Manor of his departure sees Adams receive apology from Cameron

The prime minister's office has issued an apology after false claims by David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, writes Kevin Meagher.

The contrasts between David Cameron and Gerry Adams could not be more stark. While Cameron was sitting his A-Levels at Eton, Gerry Adams assumed the presidency of Sinn Fein – after spending is own youth locked in guerrilla war with the British state. In order to lead Sinn Fein’s campaign in the forthcoming general election in the Republic, Adams is standing for the Dail in the Louth constituency. Relinquishing his West Belfast Westminster seat, however, has triggered a frisson of excitement among parliamentary anoraks at the manner of his departure.

As is well known, Sinn Fein Members elect not to sit in the House of Commons due to their refusal to swear the oath of allegiance to the British Crown (and also because they regard it as a ‘foreign’ parliament).

Members retiring their seats between elections are, however, obliged, under archaic parliamentary tradition, to apply for an Office of Profit under The Crown before they can stand down.

These procedural devices see retiring MPs granted the procedural title ‘Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’ or ‘Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham’. Eschewing the fripperies of British parliamentary tradition, Adams signalled his intention to resign with a simple letter to Speaker Bercow.

Cue much chortling from British politics’ public schoolboy fraternity, with David Cameron telling Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions:

“I’m not sure that Gerry Adams will be delighted to be Baron of the Manor of Northstead. But nonetheless I’m pleased that tradition has been maintained.”

But it appears that Adams – who neither sought nor accepts the antiquated title – has had the last laugh. Last night the Speaker’s office confirmed that Adams has now been disqualified as a Member of Parliament, as per his original intention. Meanwhile Adams claims that the prime minister’s private secretary apologised to him for David Cameron’s point-scoring.

A statement released by Gerry Adams last night reads:

“The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.

“That letter said:

‘A chara [equivalent of “Dear Sir”), I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat [thank-you very much]. Gerry Adams.’

“When I was told of the British Prime Minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr. Cameron has claimed that ‘The Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown.”

“This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system.

“I am proud to have represented the people of West Belfast for almost three decades and to have done so without pledging allegiance to the English Queen or accepting British parliamentary claims to jurisdiction in my country.

“Mr. Cameron’s announcement that I have become Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, wherever that is, is a bizarre development. I am sure the burghers of that Manor are as bemused as me. I have spoken to the Prime Minister’s private secretary today and he has apologised for today’s events.”

With Sinn Fein polling strongly south of the border – tying for third place with governing party Fianna Fail – the prospect of Mr Adams’s party making an historic breakthrough and emerging as part of the government in both parts of the island of Ireland is now a real possibility.

Perhaps his sneering schoolboy critics will shortly wish he had stayed where he was.

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58 Responses to “Manor of his departure sees Adams receive apology from Cameron”

  1. Anon E Mouse

    Sean South – I agree. What we have here is a special advisor to Labour’s Northern Ireland Secretary, Shaun Woodward, who renames a proscribed terrorist organisation as people fighting a “Guerilla War”.

    Despite the fact from his own link it is clear they are not fighting any Guerilla War but are clearly engaged in acts of terrorism.

    Ask the people they have killed and maimed, such as the children aged 12 and 3 blown up in Warrington and mentioned previously.

    Then we have Shamik Das, the Acting Editor of this popular Labour blog, who appears to be defending Kevin Meagher’s description of this organisation and (seemingly) refuses to agree that a proscribed terrorist organisation are just that.

    Is anyone from the Labour Party actually getting this or is it just me?

    There are an awful lot of Labour voters in this country who would be horrified to discover that the last government (apparently) employed SPAD’s who espouse such views.

    Let me try one last time. Does Left Foot Forward agree with calling a UK proscribed terrorist organisation a group engaged in “Guerilla Warfare”?

    I wonder what Ed Miliband and the Labour leadership’s position is on this?

  2. Liz McShane

    Anon – I don’t really think it’s ‘on’ trying to misrepresent the writer’s intentions or taint his character.

    Also your claims about Ed Miliband being a tax-dodging property millionaire & not having done a day’s work are simply ludicrous.

    You state that: “This type of article will offend decent Labour voters everywhere…” Well I consider myself a ‘decent’ Labour voter and I am not offended by this article.

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – The writer links to Wiki where blowing up innocent people are not included in Guerilla Warfare – his link not mine. He used it to justify his remarks.

    I don’t do smearing Liz – you may not agree with my opinions but I NEVER play the man, always the ball. You know that.

    Ed Miliband avoided paying Inheritance Tax on his father’s property using clever lawyers and went directly from university to work for Harriet Harman.

    You do more work in one day Liz than he’s done in his whole life. Who does he represent?

    Finally. You may not be offended by the article but I’ll bet if people realised SPAD’s to government ministers were describing a PROSCRIBED terrorist organisation as anything but that they would be.

    Ask the families who lost loved ones during the troubles how they feel…

  4. Liz McShane

    Anon – re the sale of Ed’s parents house – watch his interview with Andrew Neil on This Week last July:

    Re your comments on the main focus of this post – to be honest, I think are a little over-dramatic & I do not think for one minute that the writer’s intention is to belittle or minimise the hurt & loss that occurred in N.I. And to be honest the hurt & loss is not limited to nor generated by just ‘one side’

    Your stream of comments suggest that you are questioning the writer’s motives & character.

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Wouldn’t question his motive or character – read my points but my issue simplified is: David Cameron is being derided for an upbringing over which he had no choice. Gerry Adams had a choice to offer support for a terrorist organisation which he freely did.

    You should also note that I stated “terrorism is terrorism is terrorism” I make no comment on the hurt felt by either side – it’s all just as bad.

    But I really do feel that Labour needs to change from the smearing and vilifying of people they disagree with. I have been banging on since Gordon Brown about putting out positive messages because the negativity is simply not attractive. I was right then and I still am.

    Finally instead of attempting to justify it, the writer should simply have altered the post to reflect his poor and offensive description of that terrorist organisation…

    By the way it was Labour that proscribed them as terrorists in 2000…

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – I also stand by my comments on his Inheritance Tax. What his mother has done is transfer proportions of the house split between the two brothers.

    This racket is frequently used to devalue the asset so that when she passes away the value of the property and the subsequent tax on it is reduced.

    Why else would someone still living transfer proportions of their home if not to avoid paying tax on the estate in the future? What would be the point?

    It isn’t illegal and I don’t blame him but it does show how little he has in common with the working classes in this country…

    (It’s around 7 minutes 30 seconds. Good socialist principals eh Liz?)

  7. HuwOS

    I admire people who have strong and ethical convictions even if I don’t always agree with them, those with dual standards however who will refer to some politicians as mass murderers while holding back on such soubriquets for Tony Blair, George W Bush et al neither get nor deserve any respect.

  8. Anon E Mouse

    HuwOS – I most certainly have not described Gerry Adams as a mass murderer.

    Also Tony Blair and George Bush acted lawfully in each of their respective countries – one may disagree with the reasoning behind the Iraq war, especially unelected Labour spin doctors producing documents full of lies but those wars were not illegal.

    Immoral yes. Illegal no…

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