“Get away from me. I will not be insulted by you. This is an insult” – Charles Clarke’s words to the father of a 7/7 survivor who challenged him about the lack of a public inquiry 3

From Rachel North

My dad, who is a parish priest and honorary Canon, read my draft article on Forgiveness (‘The F-word’) last night, and it so happened that he was going to to a clergy meeting this morning at Norwich Cathedral where the special guest was the Home Secretary Charles Clarke.

Clarke is my father’s MP.

Clarke, in his speech to the assembled clergy, made much of the fact that he had spoken to the PM ”only yesterday” and the PM was at the time considering the problem of an angry Sedgefield constituent about the closure of a school. Clarke remarked upon this system of top executives still being MPs and responsible to their constituents, how unusual this was compared to most Parliamentary systems. You lucky people, even though I am the Home Secretary, I am still also your M.P and here to help with all your little problems and enquiries. Etc.

He didn’t actually say ‘ you lucky people”, Dad said, but that was the inference. Dad was pleased that he could finally ask his M.P, Charles Clarke, the question he has been keen to ask for some months. Dad waited eagerly to ask his question; he had already written to Clarke in December 2005 with his question. But Clarke had not replied.

Dad was therefore very keen to be part of what was advertised in the meeting notes as ”30 minutes of reflection” after Clarke spoke. (In these meetings, ”30 minutes of reflection”means ”30 minutes of debate”. But it a clergy meeting, so they all ”reflect”, rather than shout and argue. It’s more dignified and godly, see. )

Unusually, according to Dad, on this occasion there was not a debate and questions from the floor, as is usual with these meetings at which Clarke was the special guest today: there were instead only 3 questions which Clarke answered at length, the questions seemed to Dad to be pre-prepared to give Clarke an opportunity to talk about things like prisons and police in a self-congratulatory way.

Dad was not able to ask his question, the last question finished and it was announced that there would be Eucharist in 2 minutes. Dad was very angry that ”the Eucharist was being used as a filibuster.” And still he had not had a chance to ask the question that was by now burning him up inside. It was time to break bread together; people began to leave the room.

My father tells me he at this point left his seat and strode up to Clarke, because he wanted to ask his question, and he said,

”Congratulations on fixing the meeting so that nobody can ask questions! You will have heard about Rev Julie Nicholson who is so angry she cannot forgive the bombers who killed her daughter on 7th July , well, I have a question, my daughter was feet away from the 7/7 Kings Cross bomb, and she and some other surivors have said they are not angry with the bombers, but with the Government, because there was no public enquiry. Why is there no public enquiry?”

Charles Clarke looked at my father ”in a very nasty way”, and then he said to my father

” Get away from me, I will not be insulted by you, this is an insult’.

And he stormed past, and Dad was so upset he could not share Eucharist with this man,

and my father left the cathedral in despair.

Dad has cheered up a bit now, but he was almost in tears at being so insulted by Clarke when I spoke to him: he did not think he had insulted Clarke at all.

Why is it an insult when the father of a bomb survivor, a gentle man of God, who has never caused trouble in his life, asks for a public enquiry? Why is his question not answered?

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3 thoughts on ““Get away from me. I will not be insulted by you. This is an insult” – Charles Clarke’s words to the father of a 7/7 survivor who challenged him about the lack of a public inquiry

  • Richard II

    A remark like this is not surprising, given that it's coming from Charles Clarke, a fat slob of a man.

    How his wife can share a bed with someone who looks like he ought to be strolling down the streets of Bangkok, picking up underage girls, is beyond me.

    I guess some women are desperate.

    We really shouldn't expect an aging, balding man like Clarke to have lucid thoughts. The top executive in a democratic country is, in fact, THE PUBLIC, but we can't expect arrogant, ignorant politicians to grasp that simple democratic fact.

    A more appropriate name for the Houses of Parliament would be a whorehouse; corporations being the clients MPs serve.

    More evidence, if anyone needed it, that politicians have nothing but utter contempt for the public.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    A very sad story, but one which graphically illustrates how divorced from reality Clarke (and others!) have become.

    I don't think that this has been a sudden development, however. Many of these people have spent decades learning the art and craft of politics, the foremost requirement of which is avoidance of awkward questions by whatever means. Turning a simple question into an accusation of 'insulting behaviour' is one of the easiest snap responses. It's a completely puerile town hall debating response. It does nothing to further logical debate or discussion and is a diversion.

    Would anyone with a shred of integrity not be prepared to stand his/her ground and argue their case?

    And we should also recognise that for almost all politicians occasions such as this are solely a means of carefully organised grandstanding. Of course Clarke was only there to answer questions which coincide with his personal agenda. Planted questions are the daily currency of Parliament. What might be interesting for Rachel's father – maybe the rest of us, too – is to know the identities of those who 'asked' the questions.

    However, Clarke's behaviour and avoidance of these matters have served a purpose well beyond that originally envisaged – and that is to create even more distrust and dislike of the current regime. One can reasonably guess where the votes of this family will go in the next General Election – and possibly for decades to come.

  • Richard II

    Chuck wrote: "A very sad story, but one which graphically illustrates how divorced from reality Clarke (and others!) have become."

    Clarke is NOT divorced from reality. He chooses to ignore reality, to ignore the public, to ignore the blood on his hands.

    When will people stop making excuses for criminals?

    What is wrong with the British? Public servants (for that is what politicians are) can spit on the British time and time again, and everyone just stands there and takes it, makes excuses for their behaviour.

    Public servants have become brazen liars. Why? Because they know the public will let them get away with it. As a result, politicians are drunk on power – power that the public has given them!

    Cabinet ministers consider themselves CEOs of Britain PLC, and look down their noses at the working public, the uncouth, smelly peasants who think they have a right to talk to "top CEOs" like Charles Clarke and Tony Blair.

    Despite all this abuse we take from our employees – after all, what other employer apart from the public would tolerate such insubordination? – people can still stomach listening to Blair lie about his belief in "God", a god that, apparently, is eager to drive up the number of bloody conflicts in the world, the same god that told a Jewish student to assassinate an Israeli prime minister (Yitzhak Rabin) in order to stall the peace process (not that there's ever really been one), the same god Pat Robertson worships, a man who called on Bush to assassinate Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected President of Venezuela, a nation that, like Iraq, has oil, but, unlike Iraq, has a free press, holds free elections, and is no threat to anyone, except to America's political and economic hegemony in that region:

    We can safely say that the god Blair worships is an extremist, and, by extension, Blair is an extremist.

    MPs have banned the public from protesting anywhere near – or even anywhere distant! – the Houses of Parliament.

    Maya Anne Evans was arrested in December for merely reading out the names of dead British soldiers – and Milan Rai, who was with her, was arrested for reading out a list of dead Iraqi civilians:

    Some British people were stupid enough to complain, NOT about the government arresting innocent people, an act more in fitting with a dictatorship than a democracy, but that these peace campaigners had not read out a list of those who died in the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

    If the majority of British are this stupid, God help us all.

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