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Move along Mr Oborne, to influence MPs is embarrassing.

Peter Oborne
Peter Oborne
9 July 2008

Peter Oborne (London, Daily Mail): James Jones and I were apprehended by a policeman and prevented from distributing our pamphlet Muslims Under Seige (opens as pdf) to MPs outside Portcullis House. We were told that a formal complaint had been levelled against us by Barry Sheerman MP. Charles Clarke told us that our behavious was ‘embarrassing’. When I objected and said that handing out political literature was surely what Parliament was all about, this met with short shrift, and we were moved on.

Moderator: Peter's pamphlet was made to accompany his Dispatches film. Stuart Weir covered its findings here.

Stuart Weir (Cambridge, Democratic Audit): It is a great pleasure working with
Peter Oborne. His sheer energy and open commitment to principle are
remarkable. Not satisfied with making a Dispatches documentary on
Islamophobia, writing a Democratic Audit pamphlet on it with the television
researcher, James Jones, negotiating a spread in the Daily Mail
and a front-page story in the Indie, he also decided to take his case
to MPs and peers in Parliament. I feel cheated as several of us from the
Audit were going to hawk the pamphlet outside or inside Portcullis House
with him, but the final date coincided with a seminar we were
running.

I am not surprised that the police intervened. I thought and hoped that they would as their interference only goes to show how restricted our civil liberties are, even at the most banal level.  But what are we to make of the two Labour MPs, Barry Sheerman and Charles Clarke, who found Peter's conduct improper and embarrassing?  So much empirical evidence and study of constitutional arrangements has clearly shown that Parliament is there
as a barrier to popular democracy and to public involvement in politics.  So too is the culture of the place. It has entered in the souls of Labour MPs like Sheerman and Clarke and most of their colleagues. Let's hear no more talk of the "People's Party"! Come to think of it, that particular bit of rhetoric has long been abandoned.

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