New Labour hates independence of mind, and unsurprisingly therefore views Andrew Mackinlay as a threat. I doubt there is a more genuine and well-intentioned person in the House of Commons than Andrew. For years he has been devoted to the democratic development of Eastern Europe, and he is a mainstay of the all-party committees on the region. He is also an outspoken champion of the rights of Parliament against the Executive, and he asked the best ever question of Tony Blair at Prime Minister’s questions. After one toady New Labour MP after another had asked questions written in No 10 for Tony Blair to look good with a sharp answer, Andrew Mackinlay stood up and asked:
“Does the Prime Minister recall that, when we were in opposition, we used to groan at the fawning, obsequious, soft-ball, well-rehearsed and planted questions asked by Conservative members?”
The House roared with laughter at an embarassed Blair, who was lost for words as things went so badly off message. He eventually replied with a thinly veiled threat that he would make sure Mackinlay remained always a backbencher. As Andrew Mackinlay has absolutely no desire to do other than serve his constituents, and has a Trollopean respect for the House of Commons, that was no great threat.
Media sources tell me that New Labour are now whispering to everyone who will listen (only the Daily Mail has half bought it) that Andrew Mackinlay is a Russian spy and a tool of the oligarchs.
An article saying so has turned up in a Bulgarian newspaper as evidence. Evidently MI6 are losing their touch – they might have at least got it published somewhere outside the EU. Maybe Russia would have been more convincing.
Andrew Mackinlay’s sharp and very well-informed interest in foreign policy has made him a mainstay of the Foreign Affairs Committee for over a decade, where he has frequently exposed and embarassed the government. I can give first hand testimony that the New Labour government and the security services absolutely hate him. They have also tried to discredit him before. In 16 April 2003 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continued its camapiagn of internal vilification against me with the shocking revelation that I had been to a jazz bar with my secretary. In the same letter, they made the claim that I had been in strip clubs in Warsaw with Andrew Mackinlay. http://www.blairwatch.co.uk/murray/Butt.pdf See Murder in Samarkand p252.
This claim is utterly untrue. I have never hidden the fact that while in Warsaw for four years I went to a strip club on two or three occasions. But I never saw Andrew Mackinlay in or near one, and to my knowledge he has never been in a strip club, in Warsaw or anywhere else The question is, why was the FCO in 2003 libelling Andrew Mackinlay in this way, particularly in the context of a letter about Uzbekistan? Andrew had no connection with Uzbekistan. I had known him in Poland on official business as chairman of the British-Polish parliamentary group, but in 2003 I had had no contact with him for five years, so why bring in a totally irrelevant libel? Were they hitting two Iraq war sceptics with one stone? When I did contact him in summer of 2004, our telephone conversation was definitely bugged, as explained in detail in Murder in Samarkand.
Well, now they are trying to label him a Russian spy or stooge. Contempt for civil liberties has grown so strong in this country that the media has failed to focus on the truly appalling aspect of this case: when Chief Whip Geoff Hoon called Andrew Mackinlay in to dress him down for meeting with a Soviet diplomat, he knew the detail of their conversation. An MP had been bugged by MI5 inside parliament. Just ten years ago that would, quite rightly, have caused a scandal and ministerial resignations. Now it appears nobody cares.
One of the reasons the security services have targeted Andrew Mackinlay for years is that he has been a leading opponent in parliament of their exponentially increasing powers to bug citizens at will. http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/vo030703/debtext/30703-27.htm
As for the odious Geoff Hoon, Chief Whip from Minister of Defence? It seems the hopelessly impotent Hoon is given increasingly unimportant jobs until they find one he can actually do – a reverse Peter principle I hereby christen the Geoff principle. Personally I suggest they put him in charge of a sub-Post Office, and then close it.
Andrew Mackinlay is worth ten thousand of Geoff Hoon. Anyone who doubts that for a minute should read the speech he made in the House of Commons on this subject.
He is one of the very few independent spirits remaining in the Houses of Parliament. How the Establishment hate him – as I say, I can give eye witness evidence of that from many years on the inside.
I am no fan of the Putin-led Mafia/KGB hybrid that still rules Russia. But Russia and Eastern Europe are huge factors in future world development. We are sinking to the depths of cold war paranoia, that one of the most interested and informed MPs is smeared by the security services for having Russian contacts. Andrew Mackinlay is no Russian stooge and in nobody’s pocket – and that goes for New Labour too.