Thursday, March 17, 2005

Reasonable farce

Not so long ago, the Tories made great play about householders being scared to tackle burglars for fear of being prosecuted and/or sued.

Accordingly, they've put up posters suggesting that 'The law should protect me, not burglars' and made great play of this during the election campaign.

When their 'Homeland Defence Spokesman' Patrick Mercer got the chance to push a private member's bill through parliament, he proposed one that would allow homeowners to do anything apart from use 'grossly disproportionate force' against intruders. Michael Howard himself launched the bill and it is now in committee stage - although likely to fall because of the expected election.

Tuesday saw three Labour MPs turn up with Patrick Mercer, ready to debate the finer aspects of the bill. Three more Tories were expected, but as they failed to show up, the committee was inquorate and the bill looks likely to run out of time before the Easter break. Two apparently had permission to miss the session, but who was the third absentee-without-leave?

None other than our own Andrew Mitchell, shadow home office minister and the man charged with keeping the sacred torch of Conservatism alive in Birmingham by keeping the Labour hordes from overrunning the citadel of Sutton Coldfield.

Almost as if they didn't really care about the bill and just wanted a political stick with which to beat the Labour government.

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