And so it came to pass that Tory MP Julian Smith got his Westminster Hall debate, or as many are now seeing it, a McCarthyite ambush of the deeply subversive Guardian over its revelations over the material supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, aided and abetted by Minister James Brokenshire, and cheered on by the increasingly paranoid Louise Mensch.
Several MPs turned up, eager to engage in debate, only to find that Smith and Brokenshire took up most of the time reading out their speeches, which were as tedious as they were predictable. The Minister span the usual line, that what had been reported had damaged “National Security”, but why he could be so sure was a secret, and we had to trust him.
Smith once again lamely followed where Ms Mensch had erroneously led him: the Guardian had been “copying, trafficking and distributing files on British intelligence and GCHQ. That information not only endangers our national security but may identify personnel currently working in our intelligence services, risking their lives and those of their families”. This is total bullshit, as I’ve previously noted.
There is no evidence, anywhere at all, that any information published by the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post or ProPublica – the sole recipients of that information, despite Ms Mensch asserting otherwise – made it possible to identify any individual working for the security services, nor that any such identification could be made now or in the future.
This mildly inconvenient fact may be why so many MPs across the political spectrum were less than impressed with Smith’s effort. David Davis and Dominic Raab were two Tories falling into this category. For Labour, Paul Farrelly, David Winnick and Paul Flynn were equally unimpressed. All wanted to know why, if the Guardian had behaved as asserted, why no charges had been brought.
Smith and Brokenshire suggested that there may be charges in the very near future, but without a shred of evidence, on what basis do they expect the authorities to act? Ms Mensch persists in suggesting that there may be arrests and charges in the USA, but no law enforcement body has indicated that they have any plans to move in that direction. Yet the calls keep on coming.
Julian Smith might usefully consider where he is right now with his ill-advised campaign. His debate, consisting as it did of him and Brokenshire taking up most of the allotted time to the exclusion of any real debate, has got him precisely nowhere, except to galvanise cross-party opposition to what he is doing: allowing himself to be used by a Murdoch stooge detached from reality.
He ought to quit while he’s not too far behind. But Smith is too stupid to do that.