McNulty: a typical Labour MP long
on theory, short on real life experience

Tony McNulty, Counter-terrorism Minister, responds to more trenchant and devastating criticism from Eliza Manningham-Buller, lately director-general of the MI5, of Brown’s plan to detain terrorists without trial for 42 days by suggesting she has little experience of such matters. That’s rich from a man whose only job outside government was as principal lecturer in organisational behaviour at the University of North London.

It is a constant theme with this government that almost all of its members are professional politicians who have entered politics from the world of political theory, following a typical route of intern to researcher to think-tank theoretician or university lecturer. McNulty has a first degree in Political Theory and Institutions and a Masters in Political Science. He then went off to be a lecturer in something called ‘organisational behaviour’ at a former Poly.

He entered Parliament in 1997, just eleven years ago, after a stint as leader of the Labour group on Harrow Council.

His first Ministerial post was Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2002-3), with responsibility for neighbourhood renewal, housing and planning. So he was part of super-buffoon John Prescott’s plans to concrete over what remains of the green belt.

He had previously served as a Whip (1999-2002) following a period as Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Blunkett.

He was promoted to Minister of State with responsibility for rail and London at the Department of Transport in September 2004, having joined the Department as Parliamentary Under Secretary with responsibility for aviation, local transport and London in June 2003.

In May 2005 he became a Home Office Minister with responsibility for Immigration, Nationality and Citizenship. In May 2006 he was appointed Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety which was changed to Minister of State for Security, Counter Terrorism, Crime and Policing in June 2007. In July 2007 he was sworn of Her Majesty’s Privy Council.

Lots of experience of terrorism and counter-terrorism there, wouldn’t you say?

Of Dame Eliza he had this to say:

“For all that solid public service over 33 years none of it was involved in the investigation and prosecutorial aspects of operations,” he told Sky News.

“Her experience in that end of operations… is very limited.”

Later Mr McNulty said Baroness Manningham-Buller’s experience had been “at the intelligence end – the intelligence end is profoundly different from the investigative and prosecutorial end.”

By contrast Dame Eliza has spent an entire lifetime in the service of the State in MI5, specialising in counter-terrorism. As such she might be thought to have acquired just a teensy-weensy bit of knowledge about terrorists and their mindset.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller:

a formidable lady who rose to

the top of her profession on merit

McNulty’s singularly stupid attack on Dame Eliza will, one suspects, have gone down like a lead balloon with Peers who are able to put a proper value on the sort of experience she has.

It is, of course, a matter entirely for you to decide whose judgement in these matters you would rather trust: a Johnny-come-lately politician who has been in Parliament five minutes or a distinguished former boss of MI5.

For my part I reckon McNulty is one of the bigger twerps this government has thrown up, a judgement confirmed by this singularly misbegotten piece of criticism of someone who has more knowledge of counter-terrorism in her little finger than he has in his entire body.

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