If, over the years, there has been a shield to spare the citizens of the UK from some of the worst excess of — shall we say — u2018zeal’ on the part of our elected overlords, it has been lodged upon the twin pillars of a relatively non-political justice system and the predominance of the doctrines of common law and equity in the courts themselves.
The first of these has not always been beyond controversy.
When, for example, in the first half of the 19th Century, Sir Robert Peel introduced his famous u2018Peelers’ — the capital’s first full-time police force — a parliamentarian of the time remarked that:
u2018It was better that half a dozen men should get their throats cut on Hampstead Heath each year than to put such an instrument of power in the hands of the state.’
Not that he was all wrong for, since then, our erstwhile u2018Bobbies on the Beat’ have moved inexorably — and at an accelerating rate — away from being the public’s servants in the protection of its persons and property, to becoming an Einsatzkommando of paramilitary social workers, kicking down doors at dawn to meet yet another dreary Stalinist list of arbitrary, central government crime-busting u2018targets’, at the same time as it flagellates itself mercilessly for its failings to reflect the latest politically correct theories about u2018gender’, u2018diversity’ and u2018social relevance.’
The law itself — which no-one would be naïve enough to imagine was ever an institution to provide a fully disinterested check on the power of the establishment — has also come under twin assaults of late.
The first attack has been launched primarily from the beachhead established by Britain’s membership of the EU, with a secondary offensive originating from our more voluntary deference to that font of One World socialism, the UN.
These have yielded ultimate legal precedence in all too many areas to Continental notions of jurisprudence and hence to a positivist, prescriptive and inherently statist system heavily based on the interpretation given to Roman law by the dictatorial genius of Napoleon, so rendering unto Caesar more by the day.
Indeed, a consideration of the degree of British compatibility with the nascent European Federation would do well to focus more on this issue, rather than distracting itself with the triviality of just whose worthless paper money we will be asked to use in our shops in future.
The other great threat to our liberty, however, has only just begun to heave into view over the horizon and this is the drive, led by that inveterate enemy of freedom, the Home Secretary, to politicize both police and judiciary, making them into servants of the Hegelian state, rather than protectors of the people.
The current behind-the-scenes tussle to cut down the power of the Lord Chancellor’s office (a plan admittedly not hindered by the egregious nature of its present Pugin-loving incumbent) might yet see David Blunkett rearrange his Home Office fiefdom into a Justice Ministry — which will ensure the Government’s rules are fully obeyed — and what will effectively become a Ministry of the Interior to chastise with whips and scorpions those who find compliance with these rules either inconvenient or abhorrent.
Blunkett, too, is obsessed — in that counter-intuitive way which afflicts so much of the Neuesarbeitspartei — with all things American in these matters, though unfortunately none of the authoritarians at the helm of our State equate America with Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, but rather with J. Edgar Hoover and Bill Casey.
Thus, members of the Milbank Politburo are not aware of the idea u2018that government is no more than a choice among evils, is acknowledged by the most intelligent among mankind, and has been a standing maxim for ages’, much less that u2018if it be demonstrated that the adoption of the new plan is a little or a trifling evil, then, Sir, I acknowledge that adoption ought to follow: But, Sir, if this be a truth that its adoption may entail misery on the free people of this country, I then insist that rejection ought to follow,’ as Henry famously pronounced.
So, the latest wheeze is for there to be more local u2018control’ of UK police forces (in other words, another specious and expensive layer of largely impotent bureaucracy will be set up). Yet, paradoxically, at the same time, the leaders of our constabulary are soon, it seems, to be headhunted (or perhaps bounty-hunted?) from abroad — presumably, from whichever foreign country is presently most effective in suppressing its citizens’ dissent, sorry, in combating crime.
And lest the heirs of Hywel Dda and Sir William Blackstone balk at the idea of foreign mercenaries running our police, they might console themselves with the thought it could be worse, for — as yet, at least — there are no plans to contract the job out to DynCorp.
At the same time, police commanders are to be urged to become u2018more visible’, as if pseudo-celebrity status, rather than a quiet diligence in discharging their responsibilities, will make us feel safer in our beds at night.
But surely Alistair Campbell (our very own Goebbelsian Karl Rove figure) is missing a trick here.
Why! We could combine all this with a phone-in vote on national TV to select our local u2018Police Idol’!
Then we could stage a reverse u2018Big Brother’ contest each week whereby, after hours of tedious, fly-on-the-wall coverage of their banalities and vulgarities, those detained u2018at Her Majesty’s pleasure’ could be voted Out of — or maybe in this case, In to — the House.
I’m sure the networks would love it and you can almost hear the scramble among the agents acting for the near-ubiquitous UK game show/Reality TV presenters — Davina, Carol, Cat and Gaby.
Whether this latest brainstorm does in fact stretch all the way to the concept of directly-elected equivalents of sheriffs has yet to be clarified in the press, but it seems much more certain that Blunkett would also like the Crown Prosecution Service to include figures akin to US District Attorneys.
If you thought it was bad enough with Red Ken grandstanding at public expense as a Noo Yawk-style mayor in London, just wait till you get an amoral and thrusting, politically ambitious, Witchfinder-General, in the mode of Rudolph Giuliani or Elliot Spitzer, bringing gratuitous charges to bear against (rich) easy targets of popular dislike over here, too!
Half the Chief Executives and pension fund bosses in England would be doing porridge before you could say u2018Sidney Carlton’!
Just imagine: a full degeneration into the tyranny of post hoc legalistic violence and the wholesale abuse of the power to levy a myriad spurious charges to the point the defendant, guilty or not, cops a plea in sheer physical and financial exhaustion.
Add to this Blunkett’s resolve to remove the principle of double jeopardy and mix it with the European system of investigating magistrates who can hold you at their hazard practically sine die, while making you prove your innocence, in direct contravention of the truly just approach, and you have a noxious brew indeed.
In fact, under such a regime, it wouldn’t be long before Gulags of Galloway, the Guantanemos of Gwent and the Konzentrationslagers of Coniston, began to fill up with the First Citizen’s opponents.
Then, of course, the only remaining step would be to recognise RobespiBlaire as de jure, not just de facto, President (and Cherie as First Lady, naturally) and then to vie with Israel and Australia (and Poland and Bulgaria and …and … and… ) in joining Alaska and Hawaii among the non-contiguous States of the Union of the Willing.
Being thus duly naturalized, the much-lionized Antoine could run — presumably with full Neo-Con backing — for the White House itself in — oh — about 2012…….