Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Jones’

Another Step on the Road to Fascism as Raab Plans Attack on Judges’ Independence

October 19, 2021

Mike’s put up a chilling post about the Tories’ latest attack on our civil liberties. It starts with a tweet from Paul Delaney stating that Dominic Raab plans to set up a mechanism in the UK’s human rights act which would ‘correct’ rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. Mr Delaney concludes ‘We live in dangerous times as Fascism looms large’.

Yes, we do. As Mike points out, this means that if the government does not like the decision made by human rights judges here in Blighty, he will override them. Raab has tried to excuse this attack on the judiciary by stating that it will somehow strengthen democracy by stopping ‘judicial legislation’. But as Mike explains, the judges don’t actually make laws. They simply apply them, and stopping them from doing so breaks the law. He goes on to explain

You see, so-called “case law” – legal precedents set by judges – are only examples of the way the law should be interpreted when applied to particular situations, to be followed if such situations arise again in order to avoid contradiction and confusion. They are not situations in which judges take legislative power for themselves and Raab is lying by suggesting that.

Mike’s article also contains a tweet from Nafzir Ali, explaining that the Human Rights Act is British law, enforced by British judges in British courts. We already have a mechanism for overriding it – legislation. It is dishonest to blame foreigners for it, and challenges to government are part of the basis of democracy.

Jonathan Jones, the former head of the government’s legal service, stated that as parliament was already able to do this, it seems that Raab is attempting to enable ministers to do so without parliaments approval. Mike’s article also quotes Cambridge professor of public law, Mark Elliott stated that giving ministers the power to overturn judicial decisions simply because they didn’t agree with them cut across ‘principles that are the fundamental components of the rule of law.’ Mike’s article goes on with this quotation:

“If that is what is in contemplation, then that is profoundly problematic,” said Prof Elliott. “Indeed it turns constitutional principle on its head.

“Ministerial power to do this would itself be deeply troubling. It would reassign a basic judicial role – interpreting the law – to ministers.

“Ultimately, this all strikes me as part of a project to enhance executive supremacy by treating courts, whether foreign or domestic, as unwelcome interlopers.

“And yet all of this masquerades as an attempt to protect parliament. The reality of this executive power project, as we might call it, is that it will be the executive that is the principal beneficiary of such changes, and the loser will be basic standards of good governance.”

Mike calls this what it is: Fascism. It resembles the Nazis’ attack on the independence of the judiciary during the Third Reich.

The entry ‘Justice in Nazi Germany’ in James Taylor’s and Warren Shaw’s A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1988) has the following passages. These show how the Nazis also attacked the judiciary in order to subordinate to their control. While much of this is far more extreme than what Raab is currently proposing, I’m including it here as a warning of where this ultimately leads.

Hitler’s revision of the laws of Germany did not affect civil laws, such as those on wills, torts, commercial contracts, but criminal law was massively restructured. By 1945, 43 crimes carried the death penalty. Judges who did not conform to the practice of Nazi justice were removed from office; only conformists survived. Their role was to maintain not ‘the state’ but the Nazi view of the state, preserving the existing volkisch (traditional ‘Aryan’ and Germanic) elements, punishing anything like anti-Nazi behaviour and getting rid of any obstruction to the Party’s will. Prosecution lawyers were given added powers and importance in court, while lawyers for the defence were weakened… To ensure the operation of Nazi justice, from 1942 judges and prosecution were allowed to confer without any defence lawyer being present.

From March 1933 Special Courts (Sondergerichte) were set up to try political offences without a jury. In 1934 the People’s Courts (Volksgerichthofe) were established to try cases of high treason, but with a jury drawn exclusively from Nazi party members. This was the court over which the vicious Roland Freisler presided in Berlin and which condemned those accused of complicity in the July 1944 bomb plot.’ (P. 198-9).

As Mike has also pointed out, this has been coming for a long time. The Tories have been stirring up hatred of the courts when they have dared to rule against them. Remember the Heil’s headline labelling the judges who upheld Gina Miller’s challenge to Brexit as ‘Enemies of the people’. That could have come direct from the Nazis, Italian Fascists, Stalin or any of the other totalitarian monsters. The independence of the judiciary has been a vital part of the British constitution with its origins going right back to the founding legal theorists of the twelfth century. It, and parliament, are part of what has made Britain a democracy rather than an absolute monarchy or dictatorship.

And now Raab plans to destroy this bulwark of British freedom. And he’s justifying it by claiming it’s all being done to protect our sovereignty from those evil Europeans. Just as Priti Patel is claiming to be protecting us from the threat of illegal immigration by planning to grant officials immunity from prosecution if they push the channel migrants back out, or don’t rescue them, and someone dies.

The great Tony Benn pointed out that before the Tories start taking away the rights of the settled population, they always begin with immigrants. It’s because they can count on a good reception from the right-wing press by dressing it up in nationalist garb.

But Raab’s attack on the European Court of Human Rights is just a pretext and the beginning. After he’s passed this nasty piece of legislation, he’ll be coming for more British freedoms.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/10/19/fascism-looms-as-raab-threatens-to-correct-court-judgments/

Article on the Guardian’s Bias against Jeremy Corbyn

March 22, 2017

Michelle, one of the many great commenters on this blog, sent me the link to this article by Novara Media’s Alex Nunns, ‘How the Guardian Changed Tack on Corbyn, Despite Its Readers’. This describes the way the Guardian initially supported Corbyn, but only when it thought that he was an outside candidate, who was unlikely to win the Labour leadership election. When Corbyn did indeed win, the Guardian’s furious reaction was to publish a series of articles attacking the Labour leader for being too left-wing. The Groaniad’s companion paper, the Observer, also reacted with the same outrage. And despite the Groan’s claim to be an impartial observer in the Labour leadership contest, it ran articles strongly backing the contenders Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper.

The piece also discusses some of the individual hacks at the Groan attacking and sniping at Corbyn. These are Polly Toynbee, Michael White, Andrew Rawnsley and Jonathan Jones. It points out that Rawnsley had a personal interest in making sure the Blairites stayed in power: he had written several books on them, and they had given him privileged access and information. By challenging them, Corbyn was threatening to cut of his access to people at the centre of power. One of the other columnists, Patrick Wintour, may have had an even more personal reason for attacking Corbyn. Many on the Left believe that ‘Wintour’ is the nom de plume of Peter Mandelson. As for Jones, his article was almost bug-eyed with hysteria. He described how he joined the Communist party when he was a student, but abandoned it when he saw the reality of life in the Soviet Union for himself, noting that the Soviet regime killed 6m under Stalin. Corbyn, he decided, represented this kind of totalitarian government. He then started trying to defend the free market by saying that ‘markets are human’. Well, so are many things. But they are also subject to manipulation, and do not necessarily bring wealth to the majority of the population. Thatcherite trickle-down economics don’t work in practice. As for Corbyn himself, this is the standard Red scare the Right has been running against Socialism and the Left since the days of the Zionviev Letter. They ran it again under Thatcher against Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and about 30 other Left Labour MPs in the 1980s. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence that Corbyn is a Marxist, or that he wanted absolute nationalisation. But it just shows how far the Labour right has been infected with the Neoliberal virus.

Jones is also guilty of a bit of holocaust minimalisation in his article as well. The Soviet Union under Stalin didn’t kill 6m Soviet citizens. It murdered about 30 million, at least 8m in Ukraine alone during the manufactured famine in the collectivisation of agriculture.

The article notes that Guardian is convinced Labour needs to keep to the centre-ground, but doesn’t understand how this has changed and will change in the future. It also acknowledges that there are many left-wing columnists on the Groan. However, their presence ironically supports the dominant bias against Corbyn, as it allows the newspaper to present their opinions as views, which have been heard and then discarded. It makes the point that the newspaper has absolutely no understanding why people support Corbyn, including 78 per cent of its own readers, nor the way the media itself shapes public opinion. Nunns states that the best comment on this came from Frankie Boyle, who observed

“It’s worth remembering that in the press, public opinion is often used interchangeably with media opinion, as if the public was somehow much the same as a group of radically right wing billionaire sociopaths.”

http://novaramedia.com/2017/01/08/how-the-guardian-changed-tack-on-corbyn-despite-its-readers/