Saturday, June 24, 2006

People losing their damn minds #17

Our illustrious leader Tony Blair without a doubt. Or maybe it's me - I was driving and listening to Radio Four at the same time and could swear I heard comments attributed to the Chosen One that had something to do with the 'political establishment' being too favourable towards the victim rather than the criminal. Then there was something about the need for a 're-balancing' of 'rights'.

Taken at face-value, who could disagree with the sentiment? But it's the detail I'm having a problem with. Who, for example, does this 'political establishment' consist of in this government that has accumulated executive powers to a degree completely unprecedented in this blogger's lifetime; that apparently exists side by side with a Prime Minister who has exercised his powers of patronage to an extent hitherto unseen in postwar British political history; and who chooses to announce new legislation, not in Parliament but from the sofa of day-time TV? Who, in other words, does he imagine has been 'governing' this country since 1997?

And did he really conflate the concepts of a suspect and a criminal? If so, and considering he's trained as a barrister, he has quite clearly lost his damn mind. Because they are two different things. The accused and the criminal, that is. While for someone to have been found to be the latter, they must always have been the former, the former is not necessarily the latter. Or am I missing something? Maybe - after all, I haven't the benefit of a Fettes education.

What is this crap about 'balancing rights'? The innocent are entitled to have their liberties protected. This is why it would be nice if this regime could actually enforce the laws we have already, rather than 'new initiatives' and 'crackdowns' and fucking get-to-bed-early education programmes.

As it would be if innocence could be continued to be imputed to the accused, as has been the custom under English law. How can there be any 'balancing adjustment' in favour of the innocent if the threshold by which the state can deny this status to a British subject is diminished, thereby making it more likely that miscarriages of justice occur?

And why is the concept of 'tough laws' and punishment seen as necessitating a reduction in what the government understands as 'civil liberties'? I just don't get it. They should go Kantian, then they wouldn't have these problems. The innocent are entitled to protection from crime; the victim to restitution; the accused are entitled to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise; and the guilty have a right to be punished, this being their entitlement as human beings and as citizens.

It would be a rights-maximising plan, then, if this lot would actually do some governing. Instead they say in effect, "I know we haven't been too good with the powers we already have but if you give us some more, we promise to do better". No, sorry - that's what they would say if they were honest.

But they are not, so they don't. Instead they act as if we are somehow failing our moral duty if we fail to approve of the surrendering of further liberties, despite the fact that they have been demonstrably incompetent at preserving the ones we already possess.

I suppose the damn mind losing syndrome can afflict anyone who has been in power for too long but it extends further than this. I recall a contributor to one of Britain's most widely-read blogs suggesting at election time that people should be ashamed of not voting for a government that has gathered more powers to the executive than either Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Heath or Wilson.

Curiously, the self-designation of those agreeing with this bizarre notion is 'liberal-left'.

Lost their damn minds, no mistake.

Anthony "God calls me Tone" Blair: a 'Liberal' firmly situated in the force-feeding Suffragettes kinda tradition.

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