Everyone likes Tom Tugendhat but it’s really not necessary for him to like everyone back. How many times did he “absolutely agree” and render “enormous thanks”? He is the new Security minister and this was his first appearance at the despatch box but there was no need for such winsomeness. He was forgiven the use of the term “front-footing” as some kind of verb – he is young and uses fashionable language (LOL). But did he really refer to “our excellent police forces”? With a straight face? A rising mist surrounded him: it was political capital evaporating.
He had two consecutive outings today, neither of them strictly necessary. The first was to answer an Urgent Question posed by the new chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, a stately galleon at sea under the name of Alicia Kearns.
In her early 30s, she defeated more than one Tory grandee in the election to her position – one of them being Iain Duncan Smith. This still-youthful elder statesman usually sits in front of his rival on these occasions, and asks sharp, well-phrased questions in his carrying voice. Among his supporters, he will be creating the impression that he was robbed, that the election was stolen, that he is the rightful chair.
HMS Alicia’s Question referred to Chinese police stations set up in Croydon, Hendon and Glasgow. Did you know the Chinese had their own police stations on British soil? Their officers exercise quasi-diplomatic functions by beating Chinese exiles, harassing and threatening Hong Kong dissidents, pressuring critics, bullying opponents. Very like our own police force, before they were demoralised by modern life. The Chinese police, with the aid of 22nd century technology still use medieval methods of social control.
IDS said that many European countries are expelling these police stations for violations of national sovereignty but – useless, hopeless – we haven’t even started investigating them.
Tom told the House he couldn’t comment on specific charges or allegations. So, what was the point of him? He was going to introduce legislation to make it illegal to beat up dissidents, and pull out handfuls of hair from Chinese democrats living in London. Alistair Carmichael told him it was already illegal to beat these people up and pull their hair out. But so likeable is Tom, that sounded almost rude.
The House was left wanting to hear more of the new minister. But they had to wait. For 56 seconds, as it turned out…