Cabinet leaves its stamp on Golden Cockroach awards

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The Independent Online
SIX MEMBERS of John Major's Cabinet and the entire Labour Party were reluctant winners last night at the first Bad Government Awards.

Plans to abolish the right to silence, the Matrix Churchill affair and ministerial stonewalling at the Scott arms-to-Iraq inquiry were among citations that earned a Golden Cockroach.

The spoof awards ceremony, broadcast live on Channel 4 as part of a week-long season of programmes on democracy, has been condemned as irresponsible by Conservative MPs because it comes four days before the local government elections.

But Channel 4 hopes the awards will become 'an annual irritant to those who think that to be in power means never having to listen to those who put them there'.

Winners at the ceremony, sponsored by the democracy campaign group Charter 88 and held at , London's County Hall were:

Lying Ringpiece of Westminster Award: William Waldegrave, minister for open government; Tristan Garel-Jones, former Foreign Office minister; and Sir Robin Butler, Cabinet Secretary, for performances at the Scott inquiry.

Illusionist Award: the Labour Party, for providing the illusion of an opposition.

Demolition of Local Democracy Award: John Redwood, Secretary of State for Wales, for the proliferation of quangos in Wales.

King John Award for overturning basic human rights: Michael Howard, Home Secretary, for planning to abolish the right to silence.

Mark Thatcher Award for the government department with least idea where it is going: Department of Trade and Industry, for lack of an energy policy.

Rip van Winkle Award for the individual most wedded to the past: Margaret Beckett, Labour's deputy leader, for failing to support 'one person, one vote'.

Graham Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award for the institution which has hung in there in the face of insuperable odds, without good reason: House of Lords.

Vlad the Impaler Award for the most blatant abuse of state power: Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, for sanctioning Public Interest Immunity certificates in the Matrix Churchill case; and Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Defence, and Tristan Garel-Jones - for signing the certificates.

'Opinions' lecture, page 15