The Rev Tony Blair & fellow pious friend
With the passage of time and disclosure of more facts about Tony Blair’s period in office, it becomes increasingly clear that he was (is) obsessed about his ‘place in history’ and was prepared to use unorthodox methods of achieving his ends, in short he is a maverick.
Not only did Blair prove to be dishonest (eg by not revealing his conversion to Catholicism until after he had left the office of prime minister), but now it appears that he presided over the making of dubious arrangements in ‘deals’ with Republicans. Now it appears that either he or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or Home Secretary assumed powers which have no parliamentary authority; indeed are powers not openly declared to the British Parliament! I refer to the letters sent to so called ‘on the run’ terrorist suspects such as John Downey.
Legal power in England and the rest of the UK is widely accepted as residing in the two Houses of Parliament and manifests itself in the form of statutes and statutory instruments; exceptionally there may be Orders in Council. Yet here, we are to believe that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, one Peter Hain, sent out letters which granted immunity from prosecution! Even more amazingly, the courts and more recently the Lady Justice Hallett (not acting in a judicial capacity you understand) seem to have accepted the immunity granted by such letters even though no valid legal authority has been cited or, if it has been cited, has not been made widely known! Mind you, the Terms of Reference for Lady Hallett’s review did not extend to ascertaining the precise legal authority (if one exists) for sending the relevant letters.
Amongst the gems (which some might regard as verbal sophistry) Dame Heather devised were: “The Government did not publicise the scheme, but nor did it deliberately obscure it” and “Dozens of police officers, prison officers, officials and politicians must have known that some kind of scheme was in operation by which individuals received assurances that they were ‘not wanted’.”
There is ample and increasing evidence of prime ministers attempting to operate more as a president or secondary head of state. The current preoccupation with broadcast debates involving party leaders and the prime minister of the day persistently promoted by the ‘national’ media is one indication of this ‘presidential’ factor. The long established practice of placing MPs, who are supposed to comprise a body of equals, into a hierarchy is another symptom. Now, it appears that Ministers have arrogated to themselves powers which it has hitherto been widely understood to have force only when underpinned by the collective will of Parliament as expressed in the form of statutes and statutory instruments.
It is most concerning, to say the least, that powers have been exercised (such as those exercised in respect of so called ‘on the run’ terrorist suspects) without a clear cut, unambiguous legal authority having been promulgated at the time such powers were instituted or since; this is another Blair legacy.
The lesson for English people is: Do not elect anyone who does not love England and identify with us to positions of power over us!