The decision to allow a police raid on Damian Green showed yet another bad lack of judgement by the Home Secretary.
We all know now that she showed a lack of judgement in what items to buy on expenses, and on how to explain the nature of her second home arrangements to taxpayers. She was tried and found wanting in the Court of Public Opinion favoured by her colleague, Miss Harman.
Today we can at last comment on a far more serious lack of judgement. Any Minister who loves Parliamentary democracy and understands the delicate checks and balances of our constitution would have said “No” to any idea of a raid on an MP’s office for doing his job as an Opposition Spokesman.
Let us assume that this government’s Ministers do not apply the normal rules of decency and commonsense, but just apply the rules of party advantage and realpolitic. Even on this lower standard, Miss Smith made a big mistake.
She should have said to herself that a police invetsigation of Mr Green was a lose/lose for her. She will now find out what criticism she gets in the circumstance where after a lengthy and expensive investigation the authorities decide no offence was committed that they can prosecute.
Just think though what would have happened if she had been successful and Mr Green had faced some charge. The government may have thought it was a trial about whether an Opposition Spokesman had overstepped the mark in what he had made public. Many of the rest of us, and the defence, might have seen it as a show trial of this whole government’s approach to spin, to the leaking and witholding of public information, and to the culture of fear they try to generate in forces which criticise them.
The Defence in the trial could have asked for all sorts of potentially embarrassing papers to be made available. The proceedings could have dragged on close to an election. The Home Secretary is as lucky as she is clumsy today. The trial would have been worse than the wise decision of the CPS that Mr Green has no case to answer.