My blog yesterday reflected on David Cameron’s choice for the Chair of the child abuse enquiry. Lady Butler Sloss is unsuited to this role for several reasons, yet the Prime Minister was robust in his defence of her when challenged. However it now emerges from one of his colleagues that he is denying something that all other MPs knew regarding the work of the Whips in the Conservative Party, and we can reasonably assume within the Labour Party and Lib Dems and their antecedents. Mark Reckless MP writes in his blog last night publishing a letter he has sent to Cameron, the letter explains in clear terms why all of us could be sure that the party whips were holding onto information shared with them by MPs and using it to the party advantage when it came to key votes and supporting unpopular polices. Mr Reckless writes
“I was surprised when you told me later that you were not aware of whips ever threatening to disclose personal information about MPs if they do not act or vote in a particular way”
He goes on to explain that not only is the practice endemic and well known throughout Westminster, but that previous post holders such as Giles Brandreth have even written about these practices in books of memoirs. The conclusion one can draw is that David Cameron is either lying to his colleague, or else he really is so naïve or stupid to not know what is happening in his own party, despite the books putting that information into the public domain. The whips are a sort of political shop steward, and David Cameron has made his distaste of shop stewards well known. Perhaps he prefers to imagine they don’t actually exist. Sadly this is simply too far fetched for any of us to take seriously. Just as the comments by Tim Yeo which I wrote about yesterday lacked any credibility when he denied the suggestion that there could have been networks of paedophiles in Westminster in the 1990’s casting a shadow that was understood by senior civil servants.
We now have an inquiry being commissioned by a Prime Minister who is clearly out of touch with his own organisation, to be Chaired by a retired judge who lacks the confidence of at least one of the victims and who retired in mid stream from a high profile inquest 7 years ago aged 73. It is vital that before this inquiry really starts its work, that it is commissioned by Parliament as a whole, not the Executive and in effect the one man in Westminster who seems to believe that Westminster is filled with sweetness and light. It is also vital that a suitable Chair is chosen to replace Lady Butler Sloss.