Thursday, January 14, 2010
When one radical commentator was thrown into Newgate goal without trial for putting up a poster denouncing this ‘outrage’ the radical MP Frances Burdett made a stinging statement denouncing his colleagues for arbitrary practices. A vote of the commons (189 to 152) declared this statement a breach of parliamentary privilege and Burdett was committed to the
Burdett was eventually arrested by a police constable who climbed in to his house though a rear window, and taken to the tower. There followed two months of mass demonstrations around Parliament while the commons debated whether to expel Burdett. Burdett’s supporters were carried to the house daily on the shoulders of protesters through cheering crowds. In the end the governing cliques quietly allowed his release on the prorogation of Parliament.
So the whole thing ended in a somewhat British farcical whimper rather than a great resolution of the issues. It will be interesting to watch the state of Brown’s trousers as this 2010 Chilcot farce plays out, but we are unlikely to see such passionate public engagement in the issue. We do of course nowadays all have a ballot as an alternative to gunpowder…