Labour MP for Falkirk Eric Joyce, who had been involved in a serious altercation in the Strangers’ Bar while in an excessively overtired state, stood before Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday in a mood of unequivocal contrition. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was duly convicted, one count being of assault by beating. Substantial fines and a weekend curfew were handed down.
But Joyce was spared a custodial sentence, mainly because he had taken the first opportunity to admit his guilt and therefore spared his victims any further inconvenience. A 12-month community order was issued instead, including a three month ban on entering any licensed premises. Had Joyce been jailed for more than a year, he would have been expelled from Parliament.
As it is, the Labour Party is expected to kick him out as soon as it has had time to consider the matter. The media reaction ranged from the factual at the BBC, to the characteristically judgmental at the Mail (which noted prominently that Joyce had been “spared prison” and that he had a recent drink driving conviction), and the tone of knowing dismay at the Guido Fawkes blog.
“No Custodial Sentence For Joyce” exclaimed the headline, with the fortunately short post concluded with “Turns out that ‘you can’t touch me, I’m an MP’ was bang on”. The inescapable conclusion is that those who write the Fawkes Blog are of the opinion that Joyce should have been jailed for his overtired and aggressive behaviour while Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart.
So two alcohol related convictions means an expectation of prison, then? Well, for those who do not meet with the approval of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, that may be true, but not where his own drink fuelled misbehaviour is concerned. Staines has not one or two such convictions to his name, but four, yet his last one did not result in a jail sentence.
When the Great Guido stood before Tower Bridge Magistrates’ Court in 2008 to face the music after his second drink driving conviction, he avoided custody – and saved his wife’s car from seizure – only because, at the last minute, the case was switched from Court 1 to Court 2, and he thus avoided the wrath of District Judge Shamoon Somjee, aka “Judge Dredd”
Paul Staines is in no position to sit in judgment on anyone when it comes to alcohol related behavioural difficulties. While Eric Joyce admitted he had a problem, Staines can still be seen refuelling himself at the Westminster Arms, and a variety of other watering holes, on a regular basis, with the inevitability of another reckoning with the forces of law and order coming ever closer.
What a stinking hypocrite. Another fine mess, once again.