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Author Topic: Blair: Rule of law "too cumbersome"
Babbler # 8667

posted 13 January 2006 01:29 AM      Profile for Carter        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his property, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor shall we go against him or send against him, unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land.

- Magna Carta, Article 39

When fascism comes to Britain, it will be a genuine intellectual debate about the nature of liberty in a modern developed society such as our own:

Speech by Tony Blair, Jan. 10, 2006

The important thing about debating ASB [antisocial behavior], and the measures we are proposing, is not to debate it at the crude level of 'tough' or 'not tough'; populist or not. But, instead, to regard it as a genuine intellectual debate about the nature of liberty in a modern developed society such as our own. [...]

Let us start from two propositions we all agree with. An innocent person should be protected from wrongful accusation. The public at large should be protected from crime.

Until we began the new crime measures of recent years, these two principles existed in a very simple theoretical construct of the criminal justice system. The police would charge the accused of whatever crime, that was appropriate. The CPS would prosecute. A magistrates court or judge and jury would decide guilt. [...]

In theory, in each case the police charge, the prosecutor prosecutes and the court decides.

In theory there is no need therefore to change these criminal law processes. Except that, in practice, its not what happens. [...]

In practice, to prove that person X with 10,000 on them in cash in the middle of the city at 2am got this money through specific acts of drug dealing is too hard. You may know it. But how do you prove it? So it doesn't happen.

In practice, the months and years of a court process, with a jury utterly bemused and the legal aid bills rising - spending is very unevenly distributed between case types, with over 50% of legal aid for crown court cases spent on 1 per cent of cases - to prove serious financial fraud or conspiracy means they rarely happen and if they do, often collapse.

The theory is basically treating Britain as if it were in the 19th or early 20th centuries. The practice however takes place in a post-war, modern, culturally and socially diverse, globalised society and economy at the beginning of the 21st century. The old civic and family bonds have been loosened. The scale, organisation, nature of modern crime makes the traditional processes simply too cumbersome, too remote from reality to be effective.

The result is that whatever the theory behind the two principles - protection of the accused, protection of the public - in practice the second has not been realised.

Since the self reinforcing bonds of traditional community life do not exist in the same way, we need a radical new approach if we are to restore the liberty of the law-abiding citizen. My view is very clear: their freedom to be safe from fear has to come first. Yes, in theory, that is what is supposed to happen through the traditional court processes. In practice it doesn't. We are fighting 21st crime with 19th century methods. [...]

A few years ago, we began to change this. The Proceeds of Crime Act gave the police the power to seize the cash of suspected drug dealers. ASB law imposed FPN fines, instant on-the-spot (usually down at the police station, in fact). ASBOs came into being where general behaviour not specific individual offences was criminalised.

This has, bluntly reversed the burden of proof. The person who spits at the old lady is given an 80 fine. If they want to challenge it, they have to appeal. The suspected drug dealer loses the cash. He has to come to court and show how he got it lawfully.

Now, as I shall say later, we want to take these powers further. Today I focus on ASB. Shortly we will do the same on serious and organised crime.

But the principle is the same. To get on top of 21st century crime, we need to accept that what works in practice is a measure of summary power with right of appeal, alongside the traditional court process.

Anything else is the theory, loved by much of the political and legal establishment but utterly useless to the ordinary citizen on the street.

[Blair goes on to describe in more detail the measures he's proposing. For example, he wants to give the government the power to seize and barricade the homes of "problem" neighbors for three months, even if privately-owned, and send their inhabitants to live in relocation centers ("sin bins") where they'll be taught appropriate social behavior. And the parents of children who misbehave in school will be sent to mandatory parenting classes.]

This is not a debate between those who value liberty and those who don't. Critics need to answer the following question: if the criminal justice system was failing people, as it clearly was, what ought we to have done? To do nothing is one option. But surely it is to do better by the British people to devise relevant powers, limited by the right of appeal, to ensure that communities do not have to live with unacceptable levels of fear and intimidation.

No liberal democracy can countenance the tyranny of a minority in any of its communities. We, as government, will discharge our duties. We will attempt to create the conditions in which respect can flourish. I believe in the innate decency of the British people and I believe that, together, we will eradicate the scourge of anti-social behaviour and restore Respect to the communities of Britain.

[ 13 January 2006: Message edited by: Carter ]

From: Goin' Down the Road | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 9960

posted 16 January 2006 03:35 PM      Profile for Transplant     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
MI5 will get new powers to bug MPs

Furious cabinet revolt as Blair gives green light for security services to spy on elected representatives

The Independent - Tony Blair is preparing to scrap a 40-year ban on tapping MPs' telephones, despite fierce Cabinet opposition, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

He is expected to formally announce to the Commons within weeks that MPs can no longer be sure that the security services and others will not intercept their communications.

Until now, successive administrations have pledged that there should be no tapping "whatsoever" of MPs' phones, and that they would be told if it was necessary to breach the ban.

But that convention - known as the Wilson Doctrine, after Harold Wilson, the prime minister who introduced it - is to be abandoned in an expansion of MI5 powers following the London bombings.

MPs should be treated in the same way as other citizens and will be given the same safeguards against wrongful tapping, the Prime Minister will say.

The decision provoked a furious row in the Cabinet just before Christmas, when the Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid, voiced his opposition. ...

From: Free North America | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 16 January 2006 03:51 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My. God.

That speech of Blair's is simply horrifying. I can hardly believe that isn't a parody.

I don't know what to say. Even his starting premises are anti-democratic, show no grasp of democratic structure at all. And then his proposals for "modernizing" the laws get predictably worse.

It's time this man was retired to do something at his proper level of competence - like fingerpainting.

From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
Babbler # 3674

posted 16 January 2006 04:02 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
i thought blair had lost his ability to surprise me, but this takes the biscuit. he's the one recommending it to blair, but no mention of recommending the bugging of MPs in the Interception of Communication Commissioner's annual report (published only in November 2005).

liberal democrat mp norman baker: "I think in a democracy it's important that MPs can operate without the suspicion that what they say on the telephone can be collected by the security services and relayed to the Government."

From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged

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