Wednesday, January 09, 2008

'Nothing to be done'

In December last year we were given an unexpected opportunity of which I must give you a description.
After a number of unanswered telephone calls and emails, we were invited for an appointment with our Romsey MP, Mrs Sandra Gidley. (Our post of 17 March 2007 indicates the stage at which we had left off with her.)
During our 15 min allocated slot, Mrs Gidley let us know that the Gaul saga was the most frustrating thing she had had to deal with, and that she didn’t know where to go with it anymore.
Moreover, the Romsey MP feared that this case was taking a lot of her time, which could otherwise be spent resolving things for her constituents – things that have a better chance of getting a resolution. The Gaul affair, in her opinion, was going round in circles, and had already exhausted her resourcefulness.
Basically, it was a case of ‘Nothing to be done’, as Estragon said while waiting for Godot.
As she could not see a way forward herself, she called for our suggestions, in view of one more attempt, the last one, from her.
Eager to avail ourselves of her last favour, we suggested that she could ask - the Home Secretary, this time - why the Fraud Squad have been dragging their feet for almost a year in following up our fraud complaint.
Mrs Gidley would not go for that though. Trying to impress on us the futility of our endeavours, and lightly amused with our ignorance of the sacred rites of contemporary parliamentary procedures and political confrontations, she informed us that there was always a battle with the Table Office about how and to whom Parliamentary Questions should be addressed – a battle which, in this case, it seems, was not worth fighting.
She was already anticipating that our question would not be passed to the Home Office, but to another department.
She could write a letter to the Home Secretary instead… at least initially… she suggested. Then, if all fails, she could, perhaps, address a Parliamentary Question. We’ll see…
(This implied dragging on matters further, at least until the end of March, as some would dearly hope.)
So, we pondered, Parliamentary Questions are no longer an effective tool for holding the government to account, and Parliament is no longer a deliberative assembly, but a fortified temple where politicians find shelter and escape the consequences of their actions.
We asked our MP how it felt sitting in the House of Commons in such company.
Unmoved, Mrs Gidley recommended that we should not believe what we read in the newspapers.
Ah, well, we thought, if only things were that rosy…
We reminded our MP that, in our view, a number of offences had been committed, and that we were able to substantiate our allegations beyond reasonable doubt. However, having learned from our past mistakes, and as Mrs Gidley was not employed by the Met, we did not wish to pass her all the details.
Finally, Mrs Gidley assured us that, unlike her, many MPs would have given up on this matter long before, right after the first set of parliamentary questions and the unsatisfactory answers received thereto.

[…] “Such is life,” Estragon would have added.

Perhaps Sandra Gidley is right. Challenging the ethical indifference of our current politicians may not be an easy job; it may be as maddening and exhaustive as waiting pointlessly for a Godot to come. Perhaps life under the New Labour regime has changed us all, making us more prone to defeatism and cynical practicality, and blunting our capacity for indignation – that healthy human reaction which, as a philosopher put it, once separated us emotionally from wickedness and injustice.

“Why are we here, that is the question? And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion on thing is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come.” Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

No comments: