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Chris Huhne goes, but is this the Rule of Law(s)?

By Tom Papworth
February 3rd, 2012 at 11:34 am | 3 Comments | Posted in coalition, Government, Liberal Democrats

So Chris Huhne (and ex-wife Vicky Pryce)  is to be charged with perverting the course of justice as a result of allegations that the former Environment Secretary Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change allowed or persuaded his wife to accept speeding penalty points on his behalf in 2003.

Mr Huhne strenuously denies the charges (and one can’t help but wonder whether Ms. Pryce will be less keen to repeat her allegations now that she is being charged as well) but it has not saved him. He has been forced to resign from the Cabinet.

It’s an odd business, to say the least. Not the charges themselves – this matter needs to be investigated and, if there is a prima facie case, charges should be filed. What is odd is the fact that he has to resign now.

It is a fundamental principle of the rule of law that a person is innocent until proven guilty. In most walks of life, that would extend to whether one has to resign from one’s job as well. If one is accused of a crime, an employer might suspend a member of staff, to distance itself from the issue, but to sack a person (or expect them to resign) while they try to clear their name is usually considered to be unfair.

What is interesting is that different rules appear to apply to politicians – and to other public figures. On the one hand, there is no process for suspending a minister, or allowing them to step aside temporarily, while the matter is investigated. The minister must quit – end of. I suspect that this is a hangover from the origins of ministerial office, with the minister acknowledging their duty to protect the sovereign from embarrassment. It seems to be a bit harsh in the modern world. Chris Huhne, like anybody else, should have the opportunity to prove their innocence without penalty.

And if he’s guilty, he should be sacked, rather than being allowed to resign.

That being said, it has happened, and there is feverish speculation about who will replace him. Will Ed Davey come into the Cabinet? Will Norman Lamb replace Ed Davey as Employment Minister?

Both would be welcome moves, but people seem to be forgetting one obvious potential promotion. It is widely recognised that David Laws is ripe for a return to the front benches. Is this unfortunate event an opportunity to bring about the return of Laws?

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Lesson1: Never defend Chris Huhne unless you have all the facts

By Angela Harbutt
October 10th, 2011 at 11:36 am | 7 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

After the Hapless Huhne affair (poor choice of words I know) which we noted here at the time, I read Paul Walters explanation of it all on LDV with interest at the weekend.

I was surprised, particularly given Chris’ track record,that such a bold defence was mounted so promptly. Experience would have told most people to “hold on a while” just in case….

Here in essence is what Paul  said…

“Chris Huhne had obviously been having a private text exchange with (that ubiquitous Huhne Aunt Sally) “a staff member” (if you believe what Huhne told the BBC’s excellent Peter Henley..)”

“…the story concerned was probably quite inconsequential, bearing in mind that someone reasonably experienced in press matters..”

“This “#tweetfailgate” story would not have taken wing so much, had it not fed into the general assumption that Chris Huhne practises media manipulative skullduggery behind the scenes.”

“…thank goodness that the LibDems have a few people, like Chris Huhne, who know their way around the dark arts of the media”

Where to start?

WRONG – Huhne has now admitted he fed a story to a journalist about a fellow coalition minister. NOT a fellow staffer then.

WRONG -The story is NOT inconsequential. A minister is caught briefing against a fellow cabinet minister and doubles the sin by then lying – on the record – to the BBC about his actions. If lying and briefing against fellow ministers is inconsequential then what on earth is “consequential”?

RIGHT &WRONG – Yes the tweetgate story gained legs because Chris does have a reputation for manipulative skulduggery. That is NOT a good thing whatever some people might think. But a tweet from any Government minister saying “From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story. C” was always going to cause excitement.

WRONG – Chris clearly does not know his way around “the dark arts of media”. If he did he would not have a rep for “skulduggery” (some of the very best I know at this have kept their work off radar – it would shock you to the core if they were named – now there’s real manipulative skulduggery). He has also stumbled from one hapless incident to another – without any control over any of the stories he has been the centre of.

What Paul Walter didn’t say was something along the lines of …”hey Chris Huhne pushes his balls around in a wheelbarrow and whatever it turns out he has done this time, doubtless “teflon-man” will bounce back from it like he always does“.

Except I think that would be wrong too. Chris has quite clearly shot his leadership bolt – and with every day that passes his time as minister looks increasingly untenable. I don’t say that with any relish. But as a Lib Dem that cares more about the party than the career of any individual – the question has to be asked – how long can Chris’ haplessness be allowed to continue?

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It’s Hapless Huhne not Calamity Clegg..

By Angela Harbutt
October 7th, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Comments Off on It’s Hapless Huhne not Calamity Clegg.. | Posted in Liberal Democrats

What a twit! It was Chris Huhne who coined the phrase “Calamity Clegg”  yet it is “Hapless Huhne” who is running from one bad story to another. Earlier this evening Hune was reported to have tweeted “From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story. C” . Doh! Rumours are flying that it refers to a row brewing between Huhne and Osborne. That, frankly, is the best case scenario. If some mischievous paper runs a story on Nick Clegg !! Well….

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The new progressive consensus..

By Angela Harbutt
May 12th, 2010 at 1:36 am | 4 Comments | Posted in Election, UK Politics

… was identifed back in November 2007…

Above is an interview on GMTV from November 2007. Mark Littlewood (once of this parish) is being cross examined by Steve Richards (of slightly leftie Independent fame). Littlewood nails it on the blue-yellow coalition. He is now Director General of the IEA (Institute of Economic Affairs) , the original free market think tank. Looks like the IEA might again be ahead of the curve!

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He’s not the Messiah, he’s the Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary

By Julian Harris
March 9th, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Comments Off on He’s not the Messiah, he’s the Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary | Posted in UK Politics


(Update – for those emailers who did not get it – look at the name on screen…CHRIST Huhne…really?)

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