Friday 30 October 2020

Our Criminal Justice System - continued.

 Over the last week I have finished the Secret Barrister's second book 'Fake Law' and again had my eyes opened to the problems our Justice system (JS) faces which is of course always  a concern to the man and woman in the street.

The key thing I've learnt is that while judge's decisions are often criticised, by the tabloid press, hotly followed by ignorant 'dog whistle' politicians and then the public at large, it should be understood that judges work within the laws of the land as passed by parliament. 

So for example when there is a hue and cry over say a judge's lenient sentence politicians should look in the mirror as sentencing law is set down by an act of parliament. This is not to say that politicians haven't sought to change the laws concerning our JS but the book sets out very clearly how their interventions usually make matters worse.

I always thought David Lammy would be hard to beat for 'dog whistle' politics and jumping on every available passing bandwagon but Chris Grayling is in the same league, if not worse, and every one of his measures to 'reform' our JS, when he was Minster of Justice, has made matters worse. 

So how does this relate to our Agenda?

As I pointed out last week, the third part of our fourth demand 'The People's Consent' allows for the public to challenge and possibly reject decisions made by government, or official bodies whether elected or appointed including ministers and judges.

So in conclusion disatisfaction against 'lenient' judges would be better directed by the tabloids and public towards our 'lenient' politicians who lack the courage to out argue the vocal public minority who would brand them 'uncaring' if they were to pass tougher laws and take the necessary actions to greatly reform our complete JS including reforming of our prison service.

If the people want to see the changes they desire in our JS and more besides then the future is in their hands but is they don't work together to ensure their voice is heard then nothing will change.    



Tuesday 20 October 2020

Our Criminal Justice Sytem.

I've just finished the book 'The Secret Barrister' who describes, through various stories, the increasing problems and inadequacies of the whole of our Criminal Justice System.

 In summary he highlights the problems as the increasing work load put onto unqualified magistrates, serious financial cuts to the CPS leading to very poor and faulty case work presentation, political interference as with cases like 'Nick' and an overly complicated sentencing system. 

He however is very clear, that despite its faults ,our adversarial sytem is preferable to the continental system where the state alone presides over the proceedings.

What is completely missing from the book is any comment about the total absence of the public at large being able to have their say about how the system operates or the decisions and sentences passed by it.

Now the primary purpose of our Agenda addresses this issue by demanding that the inherent sovereignty of the people be recognised. Then under the third element of our fourth demand, 'The People's Consent', we require public approval, permitting challenge  and possiblity of rejection, of the decisions made by official bodies, elected and appointed officials, including ministers and judges.

I can think of nothing better for improving our governance and justice system, and correcting its faults, than to allow the public the ability to shine a light onto and into the whole system.

At the moment our government's priorities are seldom if ever those of the majority of the people and until that is rectified nothing much is going to change apart from a few deck chairs as the Ship of State continues to take on water. The rot in our governance has been growing for some time now but under our current incompetent government the water intake is on the increase.

Saturday 17 October 2020

Beware the trappings of power.

 I'm a fan of the 'A Very Short Introduction' series which are many and varied and I've just finished the 162 page one on 'Socialism' by Michael Newman.

 This gave a very good summary of socialism from the rapid economic and social changes, associsted with urbanization and indusrialization, in early 19th century Europe through to the break down of communism in Russia with the fall of the Berlin Wall and ending with some final thoughts of its future in the 21st century.

In outlining the Socialist Traditions in chapter one he covers Utopians, Anarchism, Marxism, Social Democracy and Communism.

I wrote about Anarchism back in August and so I was struck by the comment in this book that anarchists are critical of hierarchical organisations and provide a perpetual warning for all movements:-

"Beware the trappings of power, beware bureaucracy, and ensure that authoriy is always distrusted."

 Apart from its vision of decentralized self-governing organisations, this was its essential contribution to socialism. 

It is for the above reason that our movement will never become a party and is the danger that all new parties fall into so well typified by UKIP, the Brexit Party and I suspect will be the future of Fox's Reclaim Party.

For The Harrogate Agenda to succeed it has to become a mass people's movement aimed at restoring the inherent sovereignty of the people while being beware of the trappings of power, bureaucracy and ensuring authority is always distrusted. 

If you want to revolutionise the status quo you don't join it.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

What we can learn form the Levellers.

 On Mastermind on Monday one of the contestants specialised subjects was on the Levellers which I did vaguely recall were an early movement to improve our democracy so I looked up further details and discovered the following.

They were prominent during the Civil War in the 1600s with the political aims of extending the franchise and achieving manhood suffrage as they believed that everyone had equal rights to the  vote.

They were called the 'Levellers', as they wished to level out society. They had many ideas on how they thought society should be and their political and religious objectives were put forward to Parliament in 'The Agreement of the People' in 1647. This document was much more radical than those before it. Along with their political aims they wanted to reform the legal system to give equality to everyone before the law and achieve recognition of people's fundamental rights and liberties.

They were however not sucessful primarily because they
didn’t gain popular support which meant that they could easily be ignored and thus defeated.They also failed to make inroads into the army with only limited rank and file support, despite their aims being to their advantage, as soldiers were more interested in their pay and conditions than in theoretical schemes of government. They also had no support from the officers, the so-called 'Grandees', like Cromwell and Ireton as their power could be curbed by the Levellers ideas. This meant they had little support in Parliament because the rich and wealthy landowners felt threatened by them for if their objectives were achieved they would lose power, money and land and there would be a major destruction of the social order.

Interestingly as with the Chartists, some 200 years later, the Levellers emerged at a time when there was severe economic hardship and this made their policies attractive to working class people, who would have mostly benefited from their reforms. However, as the economic situation improved support for the Levellers started to decline. This was the major reason as to why they lacked popular support.

Coming right up to date for our agenda to achieve mass support we sadly need the economic conditions to seriously deteriorate so that the people are forced to consider how badly the current system of governance
in this country has let them down. At that point they should hopefully focus on the necessary improvements needed to give them a far greater say in the way they are governed which needs to start with a recognition of the people's inherent sovereignty.

Next year of course with the double economic whammy of Covid and at best a limited trade deal with the EU the conditions should be ripe to advance our six demands.
If the people want politcal reforms they will have to wake up and demand them - it is up to them.

 As Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote in The Leopard “If we want things to stay as they are, everything will have to change. 

Thursday 1 October 2020

Party politics destroys good governance.

 Politics, especially party politics, gets in the way of good governance and policies that would benefit the nation as a whole.

The media are unfortunately obsessed with  the whole game played out through party politics while the people only care about the necessary policies required to improve their lives. 

Only at election time do the people get to have their say but with no mechansim for the people to hold the government to account after polling day they are ignored until the campaign at the next election.

I've just finished the book 'The wake up call' by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge which is quite good at charting and explaining the decline in the West's governance, especially in the USA and UK, but when it comes to solutions they have a wish list of around 13 points. These they suggest would improve our governance but it relies entirely on the current lot in Westminster administering the changes and quite frankly that isn't going to happen for as the good old saying goes 'turkeys don't vote for Christmas'.

Over the last few years I have read over two dozen books in and around the subject of democracy but not one of them really gets to the root of the problem which is that the people do not have the power to hold their government to account between elections.

The first requirement to make this happen is for the people to have their inherent sovereignty recognised and confirmed in a new codified constitution ( Demands one and six). 

Next government needs to be brought closer to the people ( Demand two) and central government needs to be reduced in numbers and role with a new seperation of power ( Demand three)

Finally the people need the mechanisms to say no to government legislation and control their annual budget. ( Demands four and five)

There is nothing better out there at the moment than our six demands for improving our governance however as Edmund Burke said ' All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.'  

THA is ready and waiting!