§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I rise to take the opportunity afforded by the Motion for Adjournment, to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a subject which has been introduced, although I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman opposite in what he has said. The hon. Gentleman is in search of truth no doubt, but I would suggest that there is no such thing as a political crime so far as the administration is concerned. I prefer to use an expression which is strictly accurate. There have been certain disquieting circumstances which have recently arisen. We have been passing through a time which has been commonly described as one of "labour unrest." It has also been a time of mental and intellectual unrest, and these things, have resulted in this peculiar phenomenon of political crime. I think the distinction that ought to have been drawn, but which has not always been drawn between this crime and any other, is that the event which is illegal has been caused by circumstances affecting society, and there has been no criminal intent and no moral turpitude. This has not been caused by any anti-Socialistic influence or intention, and the only justification that the State can put forward for prosecutions under these circumstances is this, that those who hold these opinions must be taught that society cannot tolerate a propaganda which may result in deeds. The law has to be vindicated, and when it has been vindicated, then all that is necessary, under the circumstances, is that the sentence passed by the judges has vindicated the law, and the law has been vindicated by the mere passing of the sentences. If prosecutions are to be effective they can be effective only so far as they prevent obnoxious opinions being advertised, and so far as they ensure that these 2008 opinions, instead of being actually strengthened, should be suppressed. Let us assume, for instance, that Syndicalism is a dangerous doctrine—I am only assuming it—and let us assume that the Law Officers of the Crown are quite convinced that that is the case.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I am assuming that the Law Officers come to the conclusion that the doctrines of Syndicalism are dangerous to civil order, and ought to be made the subject of prosecution. If by prosecuting they suddenly raise an insignificant propaganda that nobody took the least trouble about, that nobody concerned themselves about, and nobody cared about, to a position of national importance, then they are really committing suicide, and instead of protecting civil order they are actually menacing civil order. I think that is a proposition my right hon. and learned Friend will not dispute for a single moment. What have they done? They have prosecuted five persons in three batches, two individually and three together. I admit that they have not prosecuted them because they were Syndicalists. I admit that the justification, so far as I understand it, that they put forward is that they committed certain definite acts, namely, gave certain specific advice to certain specific people who had special duties to perform, namely, soldiers, and that by giving that advice they committed an illegal and unlawful act for which they should be prosecuted. But the general effect of all that has been this: the whole of their general propaganda has been magnified, and there is not a single leaflet of the "Don't Shoot" class that has been withheld because of the prosecutions, there is not a single speech of the "Don't Shoot" class that has been unsaid because of the prosecutions. As a matter of fact, the prosecutions have brought out a flood of these leaflets that otherwise would never have seen the light of day, or appeared in printing presses, and they have given notoriety, prominence and importance to propaganda which otherwise would have remained obscure and of no consequence whatever. I think that is a great pity. I think they ought to have considered expediency as well as mere red-tape justice and legality before they took that action.
2009 Let me specify one case, which is in many respects the most important of them all: I mean the case of Mr. Tom Mann. Mr. Tom Mann never advised soldiers, as such, not to shoot; he never went to soldiers and said, "Don't shoot"; he never specifically addressed soldiers and said, "Don't shoot." He simply expressed, in a somewhat dramatic form, his opinion that soldiers asked to shoot during the time of trade disputes, or disorder arising out of trade disputes, should not shoot at all. He expressed a general opinion. He said that if soldiers were called out he would advise that they should not shoot. When he was put on trial he defended himself on the ground that when soldiers were called out under these circumstances they ought to act as ordinary citizens, and that all the operations of the law, such as coroners' inquests, and so forth, proved conclusively to his mind—this was his defence—that the soldier when shooting as a citizen under the command of his superior officer was still a citizen, and occupied precisely the position that he himself or I myself would occupy if he also shot or I also shot because somebody with a red coat and with a badge upon his coat asked him or me to shoot. That was the defence. Then the judge said, "If one went to a soldier or sailor and said you must not fire when the commanding officer orders you, that would be unlawful, because it would not be an expression of opinion." I agree. But that was not what Tom Mann did at all. The statement made by the judge of what was unlawful was not a statement of the fact so far as Tom Mann was concerned. Tom Mann expressed opinions. The judge sentenced him on the assumption that he had done a certain act which he never did at all. I think, under the circumstances, the Home Secretary ought not only to have reduced the sentence, which he did, but to have removed it altogether.
Then the next question arises, seeing that he has not let Mr. Mann out altogether, about Mr. Mann's treatment. Surely, if there was any justification for putting a condemned man in the first division that justification exists now. No one can say it was really morally a criminal act. It was purely an expression of opinion, an opinion which is expressed every day of the week in our Christian Churches, that men should not kill each other. It is an opinion that is held specifically by a very considerable section of the community—the Quakers. It is held 2010 also by another, not perhaps quite so important and influential a section, but nevertheless equally sincere and law-abiding, those who follow the doctrines of Count Tolstoi. These people are bound to express themselves in this way, and because Tom Mann, under special circumstances and at a time of special unrest, expressed these opinions in a dramatic way he is condemned. Then surely, if the whole of the sentence cannot be wiped out, my right hon. Friend will see reason to revise the decision and put him in the first class. All that is necessary surely is detention and no further punishment. If he does not he really must excuse us, for a great many believe it—I do not want to believe those things; I strive not to believe them—if we are bound to come to the conclusion that when a man belongs to certain sections of the community he gets treatment far more severe than when he belongs to other sections of the community. Take the Dr. Jameson ease. I have been refreshing my memory of that after what my right hon. Friend said yesterday. It was a case in point. It is a very clear case. The judge, in the speech he delivered before pronouncing sentence, points out that the accused persons were officers in the service of the Queen—that was one very important circumstance—with the exception of Dr. Jameson himself, who at the time of the Jameson raid, held an exceedingly important administrative office under the Crown. That is point number one. Tom Mann is a private citizen, and the difference tells against the officer of the Crown. Then the judge points out that the action of these men resulted in loss of life—in loss of property, but specially in loss of life. That did not happen at all in this particular case.
Then he points out that it led to a serious disturbance of the peace and the destruction of mutual good will and sympathy between two people who at the time were in a somewhat dangerous mental condition regarding each other. Then he passed his sentence, and the sentences were all without hard labour. Then the description in the "Times" goes on to say that when the sentences were passed the friends of these gentlemen greeted them with hearty handshakes and other expressions of emotion. I wonder what the expressions of emotion would be by the very same people if they were allowed to express them in the Tom Mann case. In the case of the Raid the sentences were for periods of imprison 2011 ment without hard labour. In a very short time they were modified, and the prisoners were made first-class misdemeanants. In Dr. Jameson's case it is perfectly true that his health broke down, and that he had to undergo an operation while still in prison. He was released while trying to get better from the operation. But that is not true of the others. It is a perfectly well-known fact—and nobody, I think, can honestly deny it—that the social influence brought to bear on the Government of that time was so enormous that they could not stand against it. The men who did all these things, and wrote one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of this country were condemned to very short sentences comparatively, fifteen months being the extreme one, and then almost in the twinkling of an eye, and upon excuses which is these days do not bear examination, they were transferred to the first division, and got a very good time during the remainder of their sentences. We cannot resist the impression, however much we may try to do it, that a working man does not get the same treatment as a man who belongs to another grade of society, and who can get influence brought to bear in his favour which a working man cannot. I want to be quite fair. I do not wish to make any unjust accusation against my right hon. Friend. We are all biassed in these matters. We have all our class prejudices—I have got mine—but there is not the least doubt that these do unconsciously influence our point of view; but in a place like this where the various forms of bias and the various prejudices are brought to bear on each other, we are able to see how they clash. That is why I brought this matter up this afternoon. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to say whether he can reconsider the decision which he announced two days ago, and put Mr. Mann while in prison into the first class.
There is another reflection that comes into our minds in regard to the administration of justice and the arrangement of prosecutions during the last two or three months. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) is going to raise a matter concerning a right hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends. [An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. Gentleman is ill."] I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is ill, and that the matter is not going to be raised. I am sorry I mentioned it so far. 2012 I had no knowledge of that, otherwise I would not have mentioned it. I understand that at Question Time the case of Malatesta was raised. I hope my right hon. Friend will not give any definite decision, especially if it is an adverse one, on this case until he has had full time to consider the whole of the facts. I happened to know Malatesta. I also understand this is going to be the subject of appeal, and, therefore, I must say nothing improper in the circumstances. But in common with everybody interested in the case, I read the statement made by the gentleman who attended from Scotland Yard, and I will say no more than this, that if that statement is true, I am the most deceived man in the whole world. What is more, if my right hon. Friend will just take the trouble to go through the writings of this man he will see that if writing means anything at all, and if a man can express his opinions and prejudices in his books and pamphlets, Malatesta himself is the most extraordinarily self-deceived man in the whole world. As a matter of fact, Malatesta was once shot at by the very school of Anarchists with which he is now being mixed up.
The whole of the man's life in this country has been the life of a citizen. Brought up under oppressive conditions in a foreign State and having been driven by those oppressive conditions while living in that State to certain acts which I dare say even the hon. Gentleman opposite might occasionally have been driven to if he lived under those conditions, yet no sooner—and this is the magnificent splendour of the right of asylum which we have in this country—does this man come to this country, something like twelve years ago, than he settles down in the mildest possible way and expresses opinions opposed to the anti-Socialist Anarchism, which is the revolutionary wild Anarchism, and fights it far more actively than the hon. Gentleman opposite and with greater knowledge and with greater mental capacity; and when there are such things as the Hounsditch crime he dissociates himself from them and constantly in newspapers, pamphlets and larger books he points out to the Italian Anarchist who comes here as a political refugee, that these men are not Anarchists at all, but merely individualists like hon. Gentlemen opposite who have not carried that individualism to the logical extreme of urging robbery, and because he has done this he gets the wrath of the whole of that crowd of blackguards upon his 2013 head and then because he libels a man we have all been libelled, and the deliberate libel of an Englishman is much more serious than the passionate libel of an Italian—because he libels a man, which is not a crime at all and no offence against the person, but because he says a certain gentleman who has been settled here for some years is suspected, though probably he may be altogether wrong and the man may be the most honest man on the face of the earth, yet the trouble is deep seated, and because he issues a leaflet, which is a libel against this man, a judge actually suggests that he has become an undesirable person and should be deported. I hope that my right hon. Friend before he makes up his mind will go very carefully into this case, because I fed perfectly certain that when the full facts are before him, he will agree that deportation is not at all in accordance, either with the crime of the man or the offence that was committed.
The final case to which I wish to refer is in reference to the Poles. This power of deportation is undoubtedly going to be oppressively used. I hope that my right hon. Friend will think very carefully before he allows himself to be used as the tool of persons who want to use this act oppressively. These were men who had come over to this country, and we are not going to raise the question whether they ought to have come or not. They work in the Lanarkshire mines, and they won the friendship of the Scotch and Irish workers. But trade disputes came along, and we have to recollect that these men are of a different race and more excitable than the Scotch miners. On a Saturday evening they occasionally broke out, but there was not a single serious charge ever brought up against them. There have been instances where the knife has been used in such circumstances, but not one of these men were ever accused of that. Nobody ever suggested that they should be deported until the recent miners' dispute. When that dispute arose there was a lot of ill-feeling, a loss of temper, and some trouble, and these Poles, being perhaps a little bit more inflammable than the Scotch miners, went a little bit further, and were far more readily inflamed than were their fellow-workers. They were sentenced, and then the sheriff asked that they should be deported. That is very unfair, and there is not the least doubt that these men could have got drunk on Saturday night and 2014 assaulted their wives and neighbours as often as they liked and there would have been no question of deportation.
But the moment a trade dispute arose, then came the suggestion for deportation. I am sorry my right hon. Friend agreed that some of them should go. I am very delighted that he has refused to send others. I hope he will not, in the case of the man who is a deserter from the Russian army, send him away. He does not deserve it. He is an excellent citizen and an excellent workman, and he has got the friendship and esteem of all his neighbours. I do beg my right hon. Friend in that case not to carry out the suggestion made by the magistrate who tried it. It is certain death to the man if he is sent back, and I am sure, if asylum means anything at all, if it is to help this man in any way, as it has always done, my right hon. Friend will not agree to the deportation of the man. I appeal to the good old Liberalism in the treatment of political crimes. In this matter rapid action is not always wise, and legal action is not always wise. We have got to use our good, broad, and far-seeing understanding and common sense, and we have got to remember that very often by prosecuting we make popular that which we wish to make unpopular. That is really why I have troubled the House at this time. I hope my right hon. Friend, in any further action he may take, will not allow himself to be pushed by mere clamour, or be led by hon. Members who do not appear to know that there is such a thing as political crime. I hope he will continue the old traditions of Liberal administration and Liberal law, because on these depend, after all, security, civil order, peace, and good citizenship.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I propose first to deal with the questions raised by the hon. Member for Nottingham as to what are the political offences, and, to some extent, they involve the questions raised by my hon. Friend in a speech which, if he will allow me to say so, breathed the true spirit of Liberalism. First, we must understand quite clearly that, generally speaking, there is no such thing known in British law as a political crime. I do not mean for a moment to say because that is so that the political nature of an offence should not be, and is not, taken into account, but it is necessary to keep quite clearly in mind that those are two distinct and separate considerations. An offence is committed whatever the motive, and 2015 the intention to commit the act, if it is a criminal act, makes the offence complete. Whether the motive was a political one or not is immaterial in determining whether or not a crime has been committed. I do not think that either any lawyer or any layman will dispute those propositions with safety. When we enter into the consideration whether or not the political nature of a crime, by which I mean the motive which has actuated the crime, is to be taken into account, then I think we enter at once into another domain. According to my experience in the administration of the law in this country, such considerations are taken into account, and properly taken into account. The hon. Gentleman seems to be surprised, but it is almost a frequent occurrence. I hesitate to use too strong a term, because we do not have very many or too many of this class of offence, or of these considerations which may affect this class of offence. But, as I understand the administration of our law, it is this, that once a crime has been committed then the motive which actuated the perpetrator of the crime is taken into consideration by the judge in passing sentence.
§ Sir J. D. REES
What I want to know is where does the right hon. Gentleman draw the line. Was the motive for the cruel assassination of Sir Curzon Wylie what could be called political?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I doubt very much whether that could be said to be political, but whether it was or was not does not affect my proposition. The judge who has to sentence a prisoner takes into account invariably all the circumstances which are proper for him to consider before he passes sentence upon a prisoner. One of the considerations which must affect the judge is whether or not the man has been actuated by what I may call pure, though misguided motives it may have been. You do not excuse crime because a man commits it from a pure motive, but you do draw a distinction between the punishment to be meted out to the person who commits a crime from some personal or selfish motive and the person who does so from some pure motive, and possibly even high and lofty.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am not dealing with the case of assassination. That does not enter into the consideration of the 2016 general proposition. In the case of assassination, as I conceive, very different considerations may apply when you come to consider motive. I am dealing now with the broad question of what should be considered. I do not want to go unnecessarily into the question, but we have only to look at the annals of crime in this country and it will be seen again and again that the motive actuating the perpetrator of the crime when it has been pure and unselfish has been considered by the judge inasmuch as he passes a less sentence than if the crime had been committed for gain or greed or from mere selfish motives or from anything which could be classified as a wrong, improper, or impure motive. To my mind that really is the answer, broadly speaking, to all the questions that can be raised on the proposition put forward by the hon. Gentleman and dealt with to some extent by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Are the considerations which the Attorney-General has described as being proper for the judge or the Court to take into account such as the Home Secretary should take: into account when he is pressed for political reasons to allow lenience for what is urged to be political crime?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I was about to deal with that. Once the Court has pronounced its sentence and has taken the motives into account—I speak with diffidence in the presence if my right hon. Friend who can answer for himself—I should have thought that my right hon. Friend would have said that he would consider the case as he considers every case put before him, and determine whether or not it is a proper case for the recommendation of mercy. He also takes into account circumstances which are brought before him, sometimes outside, sometimes inside this House, which have not been present to the mind of the judge. In any event, he has to exercise his own judgment on the matter in view of the circumstances laid before him. My hon. Friend raised another question, namely, the sentence on Mr. Tom Mann, and incidentally the prosecution. That is to say, he thought that this might be one of those cases—I am not sure whether he thought it was—in which a prosecution did more harm than good. As to that, I would say in the first instance I dissent entirely from the view of the offence which he has put forward. He put forward what would be an excellent 2017 defence if it was a true statement of the case, and on which the accused would be acquitted. If it is true that he only stated an opinion and nothing more, I do not think that would be enough to bring him within the Statute. If that was the true view—and it was the question discussed and relied on, and put by the judge in the fairest possible way, as all who have read the summing up to the jury will agree—the jury would in accordance with the directions of the judge have acquitted him. Let me put as clearly as I can the difference between the two cases. In one case it is the mere expression of opinion. Suppose, for example, my hon. Friend or any one else, in this House or outside, expressed the opinion that soldiers ought not to be brought into operation in the case of riots or of trade disputes. Nobody would say that he should be prosecuted for that. Certainly I should not. That is an expression of opinion which every man is entitled to utter, and for which no one would ever dream of prosecuting him. But when it is not an expression of opinion, when it takes the form of a writing which is published, which remains not only for the actual person to take up and read, but to be circulated amongst soldiers or other persons, then it becomes an expression which is followed by an act intended by the person who perpetrates the act to have a certain consequence. That really is the difference. Let me put it again in another form. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that this "Don't Shoot" letter was not intended, if it fell into the hands of a soldier, to induce that soldier not to fire when called upon by his officer to shoot? That really is the whole point. You may say that no armies or navies ought to exist. No doubt that would be a very enviable state of things if we could ever reach it. I have no doubt we might—
§ Mr. O'GRADY
Why do you not discharge the whole of the chaplains of the Army? They are constantly preaching to the soldiers "Thou shalt do no murder."
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Because you have chaplains in the Army, it does not follow that they are going to preach that you must not fire upon anybody under any circumstances and any conditions. But an interesting point has been raised by my hon. Friend, and I am only too glad to have the opportunity of dealing with it, because I cannot but think there has been 2018 again and again the greatest misconception with regard to it, in spite of the attempts which I have made to explain the matter. What is, perhaps, more important, is that there has been considerable misrepresentation as to the action taken by myself, and for which I have taken responsibility. These misconceptions have been shared by those who are not in a position to judge whether or not the things stated are true, and who have accepted the statements as they are made. The consequence is that there are no doubt a good many persons in this country who have been led to the conclusion that this prosecution was a prosecution against Mr. Tom Mann, not for what he had done in this respect, but for opinions which he held. I defy any hon. Member in this House to get up and state that that is his view. Again and again it has been explained.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman has just admitted that Mr. Tom Mann was locked up because he expressed those opinions in writing?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am sorry if my hon. Friend has not clearly understood what I said, but there is a difference between one's opinion and the expression of that opinion, and publishing something which is intended to have a particular effect. I put the test which is to my mind a real test in this matter. If I were a juryman and had to decide upon the matter I should take this view: That letter is brought to a soldier and the soldier reads it; is it the intention of the person who publishes that letter that the soldier who reads it shall refuse to obey the order to shoot, if called upon to do so, in the case of riot or trade dispute; that is the real point?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
It is useless to say that. It is an expression of feeling which is intended to have certain consequences. It is the intention which creates the act. It is that act which makes it criminal. You may argue about it as often as you like, but you will never get away from the fact that that is the real 2019 test of the question. An hon. Member says to me: Mr. Tom Mann never actually did publish this letter to a soldier. I do not know whether he did or not. What he did do was to publish it with the intention that it should reach the soldier, and if he did not do it, then he ought to have been acquitted. I quite understand how it did have the consequence which was intended. The House may have forgotten one incident in connection with this prosecution which I have already discussed at some length. What was the first thing that led to action being taken upon my part in this matter? It was that the letter was being taken up by a person and circulated at the Barracks at Aldershot to the very persons who were, of course, intended to be affected by it. This is the consequence which the act must have, and every man is presumed to intend the reasonable consequence of his act, and I have no doubt that a very intelligent person like Tom Mann, when he published that, knew that in some form or other it would reach the soldiers and was intended to be operative in their minds in connection with this dispute. That is the whole question. My hon. Friend assumed that I or someone in the Government was opposed to Syndicalist opinion. For fear of misconception, I repeat what I am sure no one in the House will contradict, that no question of Syndicalist opinion entered into this matter from beginning to end. It was the merest chance, I think, perhaps, an unfortunate chance, that this open letter in the form in which it was published, happened to be brought before us in the paper called "The Syndicalist," of which I never heard or knew anything before, and my view is that from the moment you get as far as that and had this letter circulated amongst the soldiers whom it was intended to reach, it became necessary to take some action to stop it, and to see that those who choose to perpetrate this offence were rendering themselves liable to very serious penalties, and were, moreover, subjecting the soldier, if he was influenced by this letter and did follow the expression of advice and the incitement held out to him in the letter, subject to the severest penalty of military discipline.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
May I point out to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the question to which I want an answer was this. Supposing I issued a statement of my own opinion that 2020 if a soldier is called out during a time of a trade dispute, he ought not to shoot, and that somebody else, without consultation with me, without being my agent in any way, takes that opinion and circulates it at Aldershot, is it the view of the Attorney-General that I am responsible for that and ought to be prosecuted?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have never said any such thing. But I will put another question to the hon. Member, or rather I will make a statement to him which will give perhaps the one addition that is necessary to make it an offence. He has left out an important thing, and it is that when he writes this opinion and publishes it, he intended it to reach the soldiers and intends to induce the soldiers not to shoot. Once you have got that intention I think he does commit an offence, and it is no good saying it is merely put forward as an expression of opinion if you have that intention present as part of the Act. That was the whole question in the hands of the Jury. They had got to determine what was the intention when the publication was made. That was the question put by the learned judge in the clearest possible terms, and it was very carefully considered by the jury and answered by them, and, I venture to think, answered in the only possible way in the circumstances. If anybody put the question to himself he could only give the same answer.
I pass from that question to one other aspect of this matter of political offences raised in this Debate. It was said that persons who commit offences of this kind ought to be treated in a different category from the ordinary prisoners. I wish to point out in the first place that that is exactly what the judge has done in this case. The judge took into account what Mr. Mann had done, and his motive, and sentenced him to what was not a severe punishment in comparison with the sentence which could have been imposed under the Act. Having done that, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary afterwards reduced the sentence because the intention with which the prosecution had been started was simply to show what the law was, in order to stop so far as he could a recurrence of this offence, and to show if people committed such acts again they would do so with the knowledge of the penalties they would incur. The question which has now been raised is whether the sentence imposed should be still further reduced. Let me point out one most 2021 important consideration. I can quite understand why a judge who tries a case of this character, and who is going to sentence a prisoner, takes into account, and properly takes into account, whether or not it is the intention of the prisoner found guilty to repeat the offence.
If a statement is made by the prisoner regretting that he has perpetrated this offence, or that he has committed it in ignorance of the law, and says that he does not intend to repeat it, then there would be no difficulty with the judge, or with my right hon. Friend in making a very material alteration in the sentence; but unless you have some reasonable ground for thinking that the offence will not be repeated, it is impossible to treat it as a matter to be dealt with nominally, and until some such course as that has taken place, the reduction of the sentence is the utmost that can be expected in the present circumstances. Some of the other questions which have been raised in this Debate I do not propose to deal with because they come much more within the sphere of the administration of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I will content myself with saying that, so far as I know, and so far as I understand the administration of the criminal law, we have never, except in considering questions of political offences in extradition treaties, attempted to define what is the meaning of a political offence. Hon. Members are aware that in our extradition treaties there are exceptions with regard to political offences, and some definitions have been laid down, which I need not quote now, because they are well known to those who take an interest in this subject. As we know, they are very difficult of application In this country, and the only pronouncement of the law on this subject you get in this country is a pronouncement as to whether a particular offence committed under particular circumstances comes within the treaty which exempts a person charged with a political offence. That is all the law says on this point.