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Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

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Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by skwalker1964 on Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:51 am

Original including links can be found here: http://wp.me/p2sftc-3ZF

I spent this evening reading through the Tory strategy document, ‘2020 Vision: an Agenda for Transformation‘. It makes disturbing reading – a mix of delusion, hypocrisy and some revealing elements that speak volumes about the party that is currently leading the coalition government, and whose leader has expressed the wish to remain as Prime Minister until at least 2020. If you have the stomach for it, you can read the whole thing here.

You might have heard mention of this document already, as some of the news media have mentioned one implied measure to reduce benefits in some regions to try, effectively, to starve unemployed people back into work, no matter how poorly paid.

I’m going to look at that issue and some others in a separate post, but there is one item I want to feature in a separate post because I think it’s both so important, and so telling about the mentality of the parliamentary Tory party and its backers, that it merits specific attention:

The Tory party in government wants to be above the law.



In the first section of the report, titled (with consummate irony) ‘Political Commission for Better Government‘, the Tory MPs who authored the section - Nadhim Zahawi, Penny Mordaunt, George Freeman, Charlie Elphicke, James Morris and Laura Sandys – demand that Government Ministers should be above the law. Or as they put it:



The authors go on to argue:

In a fast moving, increasingly competitive globalised World we need a Government that can make decisions at speed. Yet in Britain Government operates with a lower sense of urgency than the average garden snail. A key reason for this is that the Courts second guess Government decisions so frequently that Ministers fear to make a decision at all lest they find themselves on the receiving end of a Judicial Review.

Ministers are appointed to make decisions. Ministers are accountable to Parliament for these decisions. This is the way our democracy is supposed to work. Ministers’ decisions are not supposed to be second guessed outside the Parliamentary system.

In other words, ‘We want to be able to make our decisions without the inconvenience of having to worry whether they’re actually legal or not.'

Doesn’t this speak volumes?

Even more worryingly, the report hones in on one area that it says highlights the need for Ministers to be above the law more than any other:

The largest increase in judicial review applications was immigration cases..The Department most affected by judicial second guessing is the Home Office. The Home Office is responsible for law, order, national and border security. This department is key to our safety and security as well as the security of the state. Yet this department is hobbled by persistent interference by the judiciary

Or: ‘Those pesky judges, always meddling where they’re not wanted and pointing out that we’re doing something illegal! Don’t they realise we’re important people?!

When David Cameron and George Osborne – with craven capitulation by the LibDems – forced through a decision to make the misdeeds of the bankers subject to a Parliamentary investigation rather than an independent inquiry, there was justified uproar because Parliament does not have the necessary power and stature to force witnesses to testify, to punish those who fail to appear or who lie, or to impose penalties and punishment on miscreants. It’s widely recognised that this decision was taken as part of a whitewash to avoid having to really do anything about the bankers that almost brought down our economy.

Yet the Tories – in what they described as

specific policy proposals for our 2015 manifesto

wish to make Ministers unaccountable to judges and the law they apply, and only accountable to a Parliament that, by definition, is going to be subject to the voting power of the very government to which the Ministers belong. So this proposal, effectively, is to make government ministers only accountable to themselves.

There is one slight exception – but it’s so slight as to be basically meaningless:

Only a decision that is so unreasonable that no sensible decision maker could have made it should be subject to review.

So, according to this Conservative proto-manifesto, judges have no business being involved in the decisions made by Ministers, and the only decision that should be open to challenge by judges is one that is so idiotic that every single sane person would disagree with. After all, Ministers are important people and shouldn’t be wasting their time trying to make legal decisions. If they can find one ‘sensible’ (and try finding a legal definition of ‘sensible’ that will stick!), that’s alright – no legal challenges!

Ministerial power can be used for great good, or for great evil. This government is using it to make cuts that are costing lives and livelihoods. Iain Duncan Smith is targeting disabled people with measures that are pushing up suicide rates sharply.

Theresa May makes decisions that can result in individuals being sent to countries where their lives and bodies may be in severe danger, families being torn apart, or even whole families being sent to countries where they face persecution and even death.

Jeremy Hunt – whom Parliament allowed to keep his job in spite of massive public conviction that he provided information and assistance to Rupert Murdoch’s News International on the BSkyB takeover which Hunt himself was to adjudicate (so much for accountable to Parliament!) – is now, as Health Secretary, in a position to make decisions that can result in services and treatments being withdrawn, lives lost or lives ruined, as well as costing the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of health workers.

Yet, according to the Tories, these and other ministers should only be accountable to the Parliament that by definition the party of those ministers control.

Not to judges, because apparently, when it comes to ministerial decisions, speed counts and legality does not.

The principle of ‘checks and balances’ is absolutely vital in a democracy. Everyone, ‘even’ Ministers and the Prime Minister himself, must be subject to the rule of law, to the need for due process and the possibility of legal review. Anything else risks tyranny, insanity and misery. It’s worth any amount of inconvenience to prevent that.

But the Tories and their ’2020 vision’ would prefer to be above the law. We must make sure they don’t get even a sniff of being in power in 2020 – and for a long time beyond that.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:36 am

One of the worrying things over the years about the right wing agenda, and one of the things that makes argument particularly tricky, is the constant appeal to 'common sense' - a concept that sounds so stunningly reasonable that to argue against it seems mere folly.
If you unpack the notion of 'common sense' however, you will inevitably come up with some nonsense of this sort, which substitutes expediency for fairness, reasonableness and even morally defensible action.
'Common sense' makes for good sound bites, whereas really thinking about things and making fair and just decisions makes for long and often dull arguments.
In a post modern world, swift action is often prized above considered decison making, and it is this tendency that it seems to me is giving this wicked government its mandate to act. As long as the right wing press is in its pocket and parroting their hateful slogans, it's difficult to see how real change can be effected.
It's difficult, if not impossible to devise catchy slogans that really express a social justice agenda, because real social justice so often deals with grey areas and special cases.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by Redflag on Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:44 am

boatlady wrote:One of the worrying things over the years about the right wing agenda, and one of the things that makes argument particularly tricky, is the constant appeal to 'common sense' - a concept that sounds so stunningly reasonable that to argue against it seems mere folly.
If you unpack the notion of 'common sense' however, you will inevitably come up with some nonsense of this sort, which substitutes expediency for fairness, reasonableness and even morally defensible action.
'Common sense' makes for good sound bites, whereas really thinking about things and making fair and just decisions makes for long and often dull arguments.
In a post modern world, swift action is often prized above considered decison making, and it is this tendency that it seems to me is giving this wicked government its mandate to act. As long as the right wing press is in its pocket and parroting their hateful slogans, it's difficult to see how real change can be effected.
It's difficult, if not impossible to devise catchy slogans that really express a social justice agenda, because real social justice so often deals with grey areas and special cases.

I think after last nights QT the people are not as unaware of the Tories and know exactly what they are doing, then today with the MPs wanting a pay rise of 32% there is going to be a real outcry from the great British public.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:02 am

Up to now, the House of Lords has been there to keep a damper on MP's more grandiose schemes, but what of the future?
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by Redflag on Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:15 pm

oftenwrong wrote:Up to now, the House of Lords has been there to keep a damper on MP's more grandiose schemes, but what of the future?

Lets just deal with one thing at a time OW, the first thing is lets get the Labour party into gov't then we will cross that bridge.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:20 pm

skwalker1964 wrote:Original including links can be found here: http://wp.me/p2sftc-3ZF


There are overtones in this of the long-defunct "Divine Right of Kings" which was not finally brought to an end until the execution of Charles Ist., as well as a whiff of the Star Chamber.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Chamber
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:19 pm

Oh I do hope we don't have to go through another civil war!!
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by sickchip on Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:27 pm

boatlady wrote:Oh I do hope we don't have to go through another civil war!!

Maybe it's just what we need?
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:34 pm

I know! But how will I get the washing dry?
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by Redflag on Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:22 am

boatlady wrote:Oh I do hope we don't have to go through another civil war!!

I tend to think that sickchip is right boatlady civil war but not as it was many centuries ago, more like civil unrest.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by boatlady on Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:22 am

Does seem to be the way things are heading
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by bobby on Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:00 pm

A bit of civil disobedience could be just what is needed, so long as it is done within the law or out of camera shot. We don’t want the very people who will stand and be counted banged up in the choky. What would be and understandably so is to try and get the masses to take strike action. When the Tories sold off the Council house stocks, there where and are consequences involved, and one of those consequences was to put the already hard pressed working classes into Mortgage debt. The average person who is bringing up a family on already low income then has the responsibility of a mortgage to pay will have to make a choice, either to stand up for his/her principles and allow his/her family to starve and possibly lose their home, or accept the burden of parenthood and keep the roof over their families heads and keep them fed.

We have some on these boards who call the British apathetic but if that is the case, don’t just call them names, find the cause of apathy. I guess those name callers no longer have the burden of bringing up young families so find it easy to do just as the Tories do, pick on those least able to defend themselves.

All that said, working people who have a certain amount of job security can work to rule, just how many jobs include tasks that are not written in an employment contract, so withhold those tasks that are not a part of your employment agreement. Working to rule means that not only does the worker get their wages, but the company has to find the same money for less work/output to pay for said wages. It is a slower way to win the war, but by bringing a company down and into liquidation serves neither the strikers or the companies where jobs once gone could be gone forever.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:10 pm

The Tories are currently doing a better job at digging their own grave than any protest movement might achieve.
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Re: Tory proto-manifesto: ministers to be above the law

Post by Redflag on Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:10 pm

boatlady wrote:Does seem to be the way things are heading

Its the only thing that will stop Cameron and his cronies, let us start taking our anger out on him and his lying two faced ministers in other words a good dose of DIARRHOEA.
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