- Gordon Brown and David Miliband shamed:
- British government banned talk-radio host Michael Savage from entering Britain is straight out of the sitcom "Yes, Prime Minister,"
Jim: "So we're banning this fellow Savage from Britain because he's a dangerous Islamic terrorist, are we?"
Sir H: "Not quite, PM. We're banning him because he isn't a dangerous Islamic terrorist."
Jim: "I see -- No, I don't."
Sir H: "Well, there are a lot of dangerous Islamic terrorists on the list already. It might give the impression we don't approve of them. So we're adding other names to, well, balance them out and, er, reassure them."
Jim: "Balance, eh? So this Savage is dangerous in other ways."
Sir H: "Indubitably, PM. He's a conservative shock-jock radio broadcaster."
Jim: "I don't know what that is, but it doesn't sound especially dangerous. Why do we say we're keeping him out?"
- Sir H (consults document): "I think the phrase is 'likely to cause community tension,' PM."
- Jim: "Is Savage likely to cause community tension?"
- Sir H: "Not really, sir. Nobody in the community has ever heard of him." (Both laugh.)
- Jim: "Well, they'll hear of him once we ban him." (They laugh again.)
- Sir H: "But it will be for the one and only time." (They fall over laughing.)
So it would've been if a shrewd old mandarin like Sir Humphrey were still running the Home Office in Whitehall.
- He'd never have made the elementary error of putting the real reasons for banning Savage in a confidential e-mail. He'd know that the final destination of confidential Labor government mail is the front page of the conservative Daily Mail.
Which is where the internal Home Office e-mails relating to Savage's exclusion from Britain ended up this week.
- Savage himself is owed most of the credit for exposing this latest farce: He decided to fight his exclusion by launching a slander suit against the home secretary (the hapless Jacqui Smith, who has since resigned amid an avalanche of gaffes),
- and then obtained his own list of incriminating e-mails as part of the legal process.
These e-mails are fully as silly -- and damaging -- as anything in "Yes, Prime Minister." One makes it explicit that Savage is being named as an excluded person
- "to ensure that the names disclosed . . . are not all Islamic extremists." Another reveals that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the
- Foreign Secretary David Miliband are "firmly behind" this "naming and shaming."
A third e-mail (from a civil servant who seems a potential Sir Humphrey) prudently warns his bosses that all this sounds too much like "duplicity."
Indeed, it does.
- The list of "named and shamed" included not only Islamic "extremists" but also two Russian skinheads imprisoned for 20 racial murders. What had Savage done to justify including him in such company?
The worst that the cautious Home Office official could cite was that he was "homophobic" -- which isn't a crime even in San Francisco, the birthplace of Savage's show.
- And why proclaim his exclusion when he'd shown absolutely no sign of wanting to enter Britain?
The answer is that naming and shaming Savage was a low exercise in cheap politics all too characteristic of the Brown government. Its methodology is similar to the recent scandal wherein a Gordon Brown aide had to resign on being found spreading false rumors (also via e-mail) that opposition Tory leaders and their families were mired in various sexual sins.
- It had another low political motive as well as that of appeasing radical Islamism -- namely,
- attempting to discredit conservatives by associating them with extremists
- and political criminals.
Exactly the same tactics --
were later used against Geert Wilders, the anti-immigration Dutch politician. Whatever flaws of taste or opinion they may have committed, neither man posed any threat to security, the British way of life
- or even community tension.
Home secretaries, either Smith or her successor, would be well advised not even to attempt the "robust" defense their department promises in response to Savage's slander suit.
All the same, it would be fun to see Savage being cross-examined by one of those clever British barristers." "Condemned by Their Own Laptops," NY Post, 7/29/09
- "John O'Sullivan, a former Post editorial- page editor, is executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague."