.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Comical Tommy

My fellow blogger and Labour MP, Tom Watson, may have been fired from his position of minder after going too far by accusing the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hartlepool, Jody Dunn, of being "soft on drugs" because she represented a heroin addict in court four years ago. A letter from Liberal Democrat Depurty Leader, Menzies Campbell, to Labour Chair, Ian McCartney, seems to have done the trick. As Ming's letter says:

"Jody Dunn is a barrister - she currently practices family law and previously but briefly practised criminal law. Tom Watson MP is alleging that because she once represented a client who was a heroin addict charged with theft she is herself guilty by association of being ‘soft on criminals and drugs’.

You know, and so too should Tom Watson, that under the ‘cab rank rule’ barristers are obliged to take the first case in line and do not have a choice as to whom they represent. This rule lies at the very heart of our legal system and is a professional obligation by which barristers are bound. Its purpose is to ensure that no matter how heinous the allegations, every citizen is entitled to the legal representation of their choice, and to have their case properly put.

The Labour campaign appears to be suggesting that barristers presenting themselves for election should consider their historic case records before doing so. Will Labour be applying that requirement to any barrister seeking election or re-election at the next General Election? I very much doubt it.

I am writing to request that this kind of personalised and misguided attack is stopped. Lawyers and barristers on all sides of both Houses would find a continuation of this approach distasteful and inappropriate.

There are differences of principle and of policy between our two parties on issues such as Iraq, education, health and crime. An honest debate on these issues is what the electorate of Hartlepool are entitled to. We should both ensure that they get it."

The blog Blood and Treasure reports that the letter was "a pretty sharp move by Ming the Merciful. Back in September 1999, Ian McCartney’s son Hugh died of a heroin overdose." It goes on to say:

"It would be interesting to see what Comrade Tommy and Ian McCartney have to say to each other next time they meet. It would also be interesting to know what Mr McCartney thinks of his colleague’s electoral techniques, should any professional hacks care to ask.

Meanwhile, a few questions for our Tommy. Presumably, Hugh McCartney had some legal representation in court. Should the person who gave him this representation be judged not fit to be an MP because he or she “made excuses for junkies”? Does he think that Hugh McCartney deserved a jail sentence? What does he think of the fact that Hugh McCartney's time in jail reduced his tolerance so much that “a tiny amount” of smack killed him? Is this fine by you Tommy? After all, it keeps them off the streets, doesn’t it?"

There is little wonder that Fraser Kemp, the Labour MP for Houghton and Washington West and a Government whip, has been drafted in to take over the role of minding the Labour candidate. In the meantime Tom Watson has gone on holiday for two weeks to watch the Olympics. The spirit of Tom Watson lives on however in a new spoof website known as Comical Tommy. Read it and weep.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?