I think it fair to say the recent case in the Supreme Court over the Prime Minister’s prorogation of Parliament has added fuel to the burning platform that is the British constitution, the settlement between those who rule and those that are ruled looks severely strained as a consequence. Personally I was never in much doubt about the way the court case would go, if you have enough power and influence the path is well set now to change any outcome to your favour, hire some lawyers, shop around a Scottish court and then get the Supreme Court to sugar coat the ruling you paid for. As for the settlement, I was never much convinced we had one in any case, seems to me there is only one party in power – the establishment, we just get to chose which liar we want to send there to do their bidding. To take something positive from recent events it has at least provided clear evidence of what I have been saying for some time now.
Looking at events more coldly I do think the Prime Minister made an error to try and suspend Parliament for five weeks, that was clearly provocative, certainly excessive and in fairness to the people I profoundly disagree with they did have a case here, if you cannot provide evidence why you have suspended Parliament for such a long period of time it kind of does look like an abuse of power. Yet amongst all the heat and anger over the past few days a simple fact has escaped our commentators and media, our country is not operating within a rules based system, it operates within something called the law and we need to take pause and question something we have always been taught to accept because the law is unstable.
A few years ago I travelled around Arizona and Utah, as you push deeper in to these states you get to some very remote areas, I find Americans to be a generous, warm hearted people but as you go in to these places you begin to notice a hard edge about them. They have a deep mistrust of government (a healthy thing if you ask me) and deep resentment of interference in their lives. There is still a frontier spirit about them and if you think about it not so long ago the people that lived here lived according to natural law, thieves got horsewhipped, murderers got hanged, the Sheriff and the law, well they didn’t arrive until later in the day. I’m not someone who agrees with the death penalty by the way but I do see how free people would order their lives in the absence of government and law. It is also important to remember that harsh that their sanctions for crime might be outside of that there is a very real sense that if there is no law against it then you are free to do as you please, so ask yourself this – isn’t their hard edge really more to do with distant people trying to govern their lives? This is one of the central beliefs I have and why I want to see my country leave the EU, barely a day goes by when some distant unaccountable bureaucrat is trying to ban something in my life or force me to accept things that simply aren’t true – like there are more than two genders for example? I mean – seriously, you want to force me to believe that and make it a crime if I don’t?
Every day that passes a further layer of law is added to our lives, few if any of these laws free us to do anything, instead they constrain us further and further in how we act, speak and increasingly how we think. A recent piece of case law in the United States threw up an interesting change, a particular by-law insisted on dog leads being a certain length in the confines of a park, a dog walker unaware of this law was fined for using a longer lead, the dog walker appealed and the Judge found in his favour, ignorance of the law could now be used as a defence, the Judge accepted that people were now expected to operate within such a complex and ever shifting set of rules it was impossible for even the purest hearted of us not to transgress the law.
Returning to our recent court case, Parliament was recalled and the Prime Minister faced subsequent calls to resign. Now here is the thing and the germ of the thought I want to plant into your mind, the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament having received legal advice from Geoffrey Cox the Attorney General, the Attorney general is legal adviser to the Crown, if one of the most senior legal brains in the country cannot provide reliable advice to the Crown over what is legal then you don’t have the rule of law, you have a chaotic free for all, unpredictable in its outcomes and prone to misuse by the rich and powerful. I would not try to argue this is necessarily a result of EU membership but it does seem to me that EU law means anything the EU wants it to mean at the time. My perceptions apart, much of EU law is based on Napoleonic law which aims to build a system where the only aspects of our day to day activities we are permitted to do are the ones where there is a law that specifically says we can do it. That style of legal system I reject with all my heart since I have a pretty good idea where it ends up.
I am not making an argument for anarchy, good rules, indeed good laws help make a harmonious society. Sport provides an excellent example, we can argue until we are blue in the face about a player being off-side in a football match but that is the interpretation of the law, the law itself is clear and understood, also unlike the U.K. right now the referee cannot suddenly invent a new rule during a game to disadvantage one side. Currently our lives operate within an unstable game of snakes and ladders called the law, if our finest legal minds cannot predict its outcomes what value is it? Surely it is time to revert back to a simpler more instinctive rules based world, if the Attorney General cannot predict where this ends up don’t you think the smart thing to do is to take a pause and ask ‘we’ve kind of lost the plot here haven’t we’?