The reason why the Tories beat everyone else in the legal argument, my colleague told me, is that they're all barristers, Labour are all solicitors and the Liberal Democrats are all teachers.
The Solicitor General put in some very sorry stuff. Evasive, chaff-scattering, unreliable. Was this one of the greatest law officers in the land? Halfway through, someone leaned over and whispered, "One of the witnesses has been found hanged." A banker, they said. It put a shadow over the piffle we were listening to.
These bankers are being extradited to America under an arrangement that is obviously unequal (or, as the Prime Minister puts its, "roughly analogous"). America snaps its fingers and we have to send over suspects but if we want American suspects extradited this way we have to produce a case against them. It's not fair. As Michael Howard said in his most chilling way, the Solicitor General's assertions to the contrary were "entirely spurious". So, "why does he keep referring to (the arrangements) in this thoroughly misleading way?"
Mike O'Brien, the law officer, was run ragged by incredulous, scornful and disapproving interventions from all sides (especially his own).
Last week, in the Lords, Baroness Amos had called the defendants "the conspirators". This week, the Solicitor Ggeneral kept calling them the Enron Three. This struck the House as improper. There were mutterings which developed into rumblings and then interventions until Douglas Hogg raised it as a point of order. It was "prejudicial to any trial," he said and asked Sir Alan "to intervene to stop it". The Solicitor General agreed to stop it but didn't.
George Galloway electrified the House, I'm told. Luckily I wasn't there for it. The Government was in the Monica Lewinsky position, he said. On its knees. It's a cute point. But very similar to the position George himself assumed in front of Saddam Hussein. I don't like being electrified by George Galloway; I might be electrified into jumping the wrong way.
At the end of the debate, there was to be a vote but the Government refused (realising they'd lose).
NB: Andrew Robathan must have done a deal with the Speaker. He wasn't down for a question but he got called against the PM and laid out questions he was stopped from asking last week. It was a vivid selection of Prescott's improprieties - the "valuable" trade union flat, the sex with a subordinate, the conflict of interest at the Dome. Tony Blair deployed a novel defence: "Leave me alone. I don't care any more. It was all in a good cause. Hug a hoodie? Pshaw!" That was the gist, you might want to check the actual wording.Reuse content