Wednesday, 9 May 2007

A Trio of Twits

It seems to me that our political scene is the domain of fools and system breakers. I'm feeling intolerant this evening, so I'm going to criticise three members of Parliament: - One a commoner, and two 'Lords'.

Cameron

Our illustrious leader of the 'Conservative Party'. There's something about his face that evokes in me the sense of his policies: soft and useless. Many of you will now be surprised that I'm criticising a Tory. I'm not. He's not a Tory. He simply calls himself a Conservative. What policies has he come up with so far?


That one left me struggling to think. He's not suggested tax breaks. He's not suggested a harsher law and order policy. He's not opposed the iniquitous reforms to the Lords. All he seems to have done is given us rhetoric. And told us to hug a thug. Clever man. You'd have thought he went to the University of East Sussex!

The Lawyers

Where do I start? In our country, the independence of the legal system is very important indeed. Yet it must be responsible to Parliament. So a member of the Government should oversee the judicial system. That makes perfect sense.

What was wrong with our system before? It worked for hundreds of years! The Crown - then the PM - appointed the Lord High Chancellor - the head of the judges - and also appointed the Law Officers of the Crown - the most important of whom is the Attorney General.

I was asked this week whether that was not an absurd system. Simply, it's not. I would favour a Lord Chancellor appointed by the senior judges. But that would be highly undemocratic. So in a democracy, it makes sense that a democratically appointed expert appoint the judges.

But it's all gone horribly wrong. Why? Well, let us have a look at the noble and learned Lords, Lord Falconer of Thoronton L.C. and Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General. One is the old flatmate of the P.M. He was appointed after the PM's old pupil-master, Lord Irvine of Lairg, was ousted from his post for speaking out against the Government. Independant judiciary? Not of course, that I believe it to be a case of 'jobs for the boys'. But it could be perceived as such. This would be a disaster - one must have confidence in our legal.

So what about the other chap? Lord Goldsmith. As the Attorney General, he has the final decision on whether prosectutions are launched. So the cash-for-honours scandal may well come down to him. And he's refused to stand aside if it does. The problem is that he's a Labour donor. And a peer. Same problem there then. No confidence.

So what's the answer? Blame the Labour Government for pulling it apart. No we have a Lord Chancellor who's not a judge, and will become just a Minister for Justice with a poncy title. And an Attorney General who few trust. And a Supreme Court Act, spending millions of pounds creating a Supreme Court tgo do the same job as the House of Lords does at the moment.

They say politicians use activity as a replacement for achievement.

9 comments:

Francis said...

Is the Lord Chancellor, Falconer, now both the Minister for Justice and the LC, or have the two positions been fused? I'm not quite sure.

Phil' said...

The Minsitry of Justice is what will be formed when the Home Office splits. Now, he's Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. He'll be that as well. It's all going to be one job with a fancy title.

P

Gavin said...

"Ministry of Justice" sounds too 1984 for me, it's a bit modern and fightening. Give me the good old "Home Office" any day of the week.

Phil' said...

You might be intruiged to know, Gavin, that Lord Woolf (former Lord Chief Justice), raised similar concerns. Not so much about the name but about the goold old separation of powers lark.

P

Francis said...

So Phil, are you saying that Falconer remains Lord Chancellor and takes on the title of Minister for Justice (as well as Secretary of State for constitutional affairs)?

Phil' said...

In brief, the Home Office website puts it thus:

The Home Office leads a national effort to protect the public from terror, crime and anti-social behaviour.

We secure our borders and welcome legal migrants and visitors. We safeguard identity and citizenship. We help build the security, justice and respect that enable people to prosper in a free and tolerant society.

The new Ministry of Justice (new window) is responsible for criminal law and sentencing, for reducing reoffending, including prisons and probation, plus all the current responsibilities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform is now hosted by the Ministry of Justice but remains trilateral, reporting to the Secretary of State for Justice, the Home Secretary and the Attorney General.

The Lord Chancellor - in the short term at least - is Minister for Justice. Later it will probably become an MP, not a Lord.

P

Gavin said...

On the contrary, Phil, the Home Office represents a greater concentration of power, not a a separation. Constitutional conservatism in the UK can be described, arguably, as an attempt to keep power as fused as possible, so as not to lessen the executive power of the Crown (exercised out of convention by the PM / Cabinet).

Phil' said...

Are you questioning a judge on jurisprudence, Gavin? Very courageous. I'd agree with Woolf - it's safer.

And his point is essentailly that by putting the judges, the courts, the prisons, probation, etc. all under one roof, the power is fused too close. Because whilst the Home office was huge, the Ministry of Justice now has too many judicial functions. There are questions of whether political judicial influence will be abused.

P

Gavin said...

I agree. I just like the Home Office.