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DAVID STARKEY: If the Supreme Court backs the Remainers on Tuesday, then forget democracy, we’ll be living under the rule of lawyers
Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng (pictured) told broadcaster Andrew Neil how, many Leave voters are ‘beginning to question the partiality of the judges’.
There are uncomfortable truths and, beyond them, unspeakable truths. But, every so often, an unwary politician blunders into uttering one.
Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng did so last week when he responded to the verdict of the Scottish judges who had ruled Boris Johnson’s prorogation – or suspension – of Parliament to be unlawful.
‘I think’, Kwarteng told broadcaster Andrew Neil, ‘that [the judges] are impartial’. But then he blew it by adding: ‘I’m saying that …many Leave voters are beginning to question the partiality of the judges… People are saying this all the time, “why are judges getting involved in politics?” ’
The roof then fell on the Minister, who was widely attacked for daring to raise the question of bias.
The truth here is that both of Kwarteng’s statements are correct. On the one hand, the judges – at least most of them – are trying studiously hard to be impartial. But, on the other, they are increasingly perceived to be prejudiced particularly, as Kwarteng said, by the Leave half of the electorate.
Trying to pretend this isn’t happening won’t make the problem of perceived bias go away.
Supreme Court Justices walk from the Supreme Court to Westminster Abbey in London and Mr Kwarteng said during his interview ‘why are judges getting involved in politics?’ (file image)
MPs have reduced Parliament to chaos with the help of a self-regarding Speaker who has blocked the Government by twisting every rule and precedent. And thanks to parliamentary privilege, he has got away with it. Yet when the Government responds with political tactics of its own, Ministers have been hauled before the courts by Remain fanatics – whereupon the judiciary seeks to hold the Government to the very highest and most abstract of standards. No wonder there are accusations of bias.
Today, there is the fatal impression that Remainers have somehow captured the law and are twisting matters in their favour. And there is a danger, indeed, that the whole system, including Parliament, is seen to be rigged. There is another, related, danger here: that Government itself will soon be subordinated to the rulings of the Bench, even on those matters which have always been protected as political. This is a doctrine which is taking hold in Scotland and is gathering strength in England and Wales.
Judges are increasingly perceived to be prejudiced against Leave voters (file image)
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will give its own verdict on Boris Johnson’s prorogation. So, yet again, an elected Government will be told what political tactics it can and cannot use by unelected judges.
I am in no doubt that courts try to give their verdict impartially on the basis of whether procedures have been followed or not, but this is to no avail when the cases themselves are fundamentally political. What happened in Scotland is a clear illustration.
After the judges in Edinburgh had delivered their verdict, Joanna Cherry, the QC and Scottish Nationalist MP who’d led the case, emerged from court. Was she robed and gowned and carrying learned tomes? Of course not. With arms aloft and scarf draped round her neck she looked like a football supporter celebrating a winning goal.
A Scottish judge has said that Boris Johnson’s behaviour in obtaining prorogation ‘was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities’.
She’d brought a partisan case to score a political point and she’d won. And the judges had let her get away with it. One of the Scottish judges declared that Mr Johnson’s behaviour in obtaining the prorogation ‘was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities’. Another proclaimed that ‘the courts have jurisdiction to decide whether any power, under the prerogative or otherwise, has been legally exercised’.
If they really are keen to cleanse the Augean stables of public life, however, let me offer their lordships another, even more ‘egregious’ case. The individual in question holds, under the Queen, one of the most solemn and dignified offices in the realm. But, unlike the Queen, he wields immense power. And it is his use of that power which is so questionable.
His former ceremonial assistant says on the record that ‘his explosive and intemperate behaviour is legendary, objectionable and unworthy of someone in such public office’. He has sole responsibility for interpreting and applying the complex regulations of the body over which he presides.
But he does so with gross inconsistency. One day he glories in breaking precedent. On another he sticks rigidly to a rule dredged up from the early 17th Century. In short, the Speaker of the Commons does whatever suits him – and his friends in Remain.
John BercoBut it is his own words, spat from his chair of office, which most condemn John Bercow. ‘Don’t tell me, young man,’ he raged, ‘what I can and cannot say. If you’re not interested, leave the chamber. I am not remotely interested in your pettifogging objection, chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position… quite frankly… you can like it or lump it.’
The situation in parliament resembles Humpty Dumpty -‘a word means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less’ (file image)
This is the authentic, ranting voice of unreasoned, despotic authority.
It’s a kind of cross between Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty – ‘a word means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less’ – and a Home Counties Hitler. What is the mote in Boris’s eye compared with the thundering great beam in Bercow’s?
If Scottish judges are silent about this truly ‘egregious’ Mr Speaker – as is the whole Establishment – then who can be surprised if there is a complaint of bias? There is one rule, it would appear, for the Leaver and another for the Remainer.
I am of course aware of Clause 9 of the Bill of Rights of 1689, which declares ‘proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside Parliament’. The original intention was not only to protect Parliament from legal interference, but also to distinguish between politics and the law, which had become hopelessly confused under the would-be absolute monarchy of the Stuarts.
But this noble aim has the immediate, unfortunate effect of protecting Bercow and his deranged authoritarianism in England –though not I think in Scotland –against scrutiny by the courts.
The legal shield of Remain does not stop there. Remain has repeatedly asserted that MPs are representatives, free to vote as they please, not delegates bound by their party affiliation or manifestos; that referenda are merely advisory; that Parliament, by which they mean in effect the Commons and Bercow as its Speaker, is sovereign.
All of these hold water, more or less, in legal theory. But only in legal theory. For, beside the law, there is another sphere: the political and the democratic. Ever since the beginnings of one man, one vote in the 1880s, MPs have not been elected personally but on a party ticket and manifesto, to which they owe a fundamental obligation (dramatically breached, of course, by arrogant Remainers such as Dominic Grieve).
There appears to be one rule for the Remainer and another for the Remainer which allows the Speaker John Bercow to be protected (file image)
The referendum of 2016 was repeatedly and solemnly declared by then PM David Cameron to be binding. Finally, the idea that the Commons is sovereign by itself is an absurdity: without a Government with a clear majority to direct and shape it, it is a mere talking shop and rabble, as the past three wasted years have so clearly demonstrated.
I think we are now beginning to understand what has happened in this dreadful, divisive period since the referendum. Quite simply, the Leavers won politically while the Remainers think they can win legally. Each side is arguing on different grounds and neither will listen or give way to the other.
Meanwhile, the Remainers can get away with anything in Parliament whereas a Leave Government is hamstrung by a network of legal technicalities. It is a gross inequity.
A terrible responsibility therefore rests on the shoulders of the judges of the Supreme Court. Will they go along with Clause 9 of the Bill of Rights and the conforming judgments of the courts in Northern Ireland and London which seek to distinguish between a legal and a political sphere? Or will they listen to the siren voices in Scotland, which claim in effect that all political actions are subject to legal review?
In which case, forget democracy. Indeed, forget politics.
The rule of law will have become the rule of lawyers and we must bow before the Bench. Or rebel.
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With an avg. 1.2M voters per MEP & Britain with 16% of EU GDP and 13% of the EU’s population yet having only 8% (if united) say, whilst holding less than 3% of the various offices within the EU Do note The EUropean Parliament has no ability to make policy and has a Commission of unelected bureaucrats, thus clearly the EU is not even a pretence of being a democracy despite its protestations!Do note that many senior apparatchicks and even elected politicians speak openly of the ‘Post Democratic era’ with no sense of shame or irony and in complete contempt of the so called electorate – yet The EU & many of its vassal States/Regions are all too willing to slaughter people in Sovereign States, to impose The EU’s chosen brand of democracy on them!
Now as President Junker announced in his ‘State of the union’ speech 2017 the aim is to create an EU military force and centralise ever more of the decision making and control!
The imposition of a Government and policies upon its vassal regions such as the peoples of Greece shows just how far from being a democracy the EU is.
Just follow the recent EU display of so called ‘Democracy’:
France and the Netherlands voted against the proposed EU constitution in 2005, only to have those votes ignored.
Ireland voted against ratifying the Lisbon treaty in 2008, but then later under pressure & threats had to change its mind.
Greece for me was the final straw. It became clear in 2015 that it didn’t matter which way the Greek people voted. The birthplace of democracy had become its tomb. That was enough. I was going to vote to leave the EU when the chance came.
No political party of any significance in Britain took active steps to achieve a Referendum – the task was eventually taken by an Indipendent West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire who personally launched and funded the gathering of a petition of 225,000 signatures delivered to Parliament via Downing Street, thus forcing a debate in the House of Commons on an IN/OUT Referendum, which led to David Cameron’s first consequential rebellion.
It was due to winning that debate, officially opposed by every party including Ukip that David Cameron was forced to include a promise of an IN/OUT Referendum in the Tory Manifesto at the next General Election. The rest is history & despite no Parliamentary Party backing the OUT vote & Government spending Millions of Pounds of public money leafletting & promoting ‘Project Fear’ to try to persuade the British people to Remain just as they had at the first Referendum in 1975 – This time their lies and threats were not heeded and in the largest vote in British history Britain voted by a clear majority to Leave.
Nikki Sinclaire’s OUT result left Cameron & his co conspirator Osborne with no option but to resign, sadly some of the other traitors have remained to try to hinder progress to BreXit, aided by their corrupt allies in the EU and \eu funding and bribes!
There will be little or no change in Britain’s economic position, if we leave the EU, using a better negotiated, customised & updated version of the ‘Norway Model’ as a stepping stone to becoming a full member of the Eropean Economic Area, where all will benefit, as we secure trade relations with the EU’s vassal regions, with an EFTA style status and can trade and negotiate independently on the global stage, as members of The Commonwealth and the Anglosphere.
This is of course dependent on a modicum of intelligence on the part of Britain’s politicians and negotiators but it also requires the integrity of Parliament to uphod democracy and the integrity of EU politicuians & apparchicks to act ethically and without their normal vindictive mallice.
I believe Leaving the EU will be turned into something of a rough ride by the ignorant and the corrupt but I have no doubt that in the long run Leaving the EU will prove conclusively to be in the best interests of Britain and our true allies. I also believe that Britain leaving the EU will prove to be the catalyst to great changes within the EU and hopefully its democratisation as without great changes it is indubitably doomed.
Do not overlook the fact that politicians have plotted and schemmed since the 1950s and we have actually been vassals of the EU, when it was still using the aesopian linguistics and calling itself The Common Market in the early 1970s, a name the bureaucrats arbitrarily changed to EUropean Union in the early 1990s as they worked towards their long term goals of an ever closer centrally controlled Political and economic Union with its own anthem, currency, flag and rigid central control by its self appointed bureacrats towards a new Empirate –
It will take many years to rectify the mess our political class got us into and we have no other peacefull means by which to extricate ourselves than to depend on that self same self styled elite, who all too often forget they work for us!
One huge benefit of BreXit will be that we can negotiate with bodies like the WTO, UN, WHO, IMF, CODEX and the like, directly, in our own interest and that of our partners around the world, in both the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere at large; rather than having negotiations and terms imposed by unelected EU bureacrats and their interpretation of the rules handed down, as if they were some great achievement of the EU’s!The greatest change and benefit will be political, as we improve our democracy and self determination, with the ability to deselect and elect our own Government, with an improved Westminster structure, see >Harrogate Agenda<.
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