Friday, February 13, 2009

Before it's too late...

I am really worried. I am worried that Britain is failing – not economically (although that is a big problem right now) – but as a civilised polity.

Let me illustrate my concerns with three cases over just the last couple of days.

In the first case, a couple were wrongly accused of abusing one of their three children. The state took all their children away and they were adopted by strangers. However, when the mistake came to light, the children were not returned to their rightful parents. The Court of Appeal said adoptions are final and that was that. Any notions of justice or fairness can go to hell. No politician has picked up this appalling case and the press have gotten bored and moved on.

In the second case, a Dutch MP was barred from the country because a Muslim Labour peer threatened to kick up a fuss. Freedom of speech was trumped by, well, nothing very much. Worse, MPs of all parties acquiesced in this decision. Hardly anyone had the guts to stand up for a cherished and vital right.

In the third case, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to prosecute policemen whom a jury had already found lied about their involvement in the killing of Jean de Menezes. The jury, using a civil level of proof, decided after hearing weeks of evidence, that the police had systematically lied under oath to deflect the blame for de Menezes killing from themselves to their victim. The Crown Prosecution Service set aside that verdict rather than ensure that it was tested by a jury in a criminal trial. Again, no politician has ever attempted to support the efforts to hold de Menezes’ killers to account. No one has ever been disciplined or even blamed.

I could multiply cases of arrogant officials never admitting error, incompetent police assaulting the innocent and political correctness used to victimise.

Whose fault is this? Well, partly it’s mine. As a citizen I have failed to make enough fuss as our rights are eroded and justice denied to those who need it. And it’s your fault too.

The press must carry more blame than us peasants. They reported the above instances but then move on. The Daily Mail is often attacked (not least by me) but at least it features stories about ordinary people. The obsession with petty politics (did Gordon Brown order an Obama DVD? Who cares?) is demeaning when there are huge issues that should be given attention. Thank goodness for Camilla Cavendish who single-handedly forced open the family courts.

Judges have also been guilty of defending terrorists but ignoring the plight of ordinary people. They are rapidly bringing the law into disrepute.

Most of all, it is the fault of all our politicians, not just the odious opportunists like Chris Hulne or Keith Vaz, but also Conservatives too busy with their directorships to use the backbenches as a campaigning platform for justice.

I can’t see anything changing in a hurry, but we must stop imagining that simply electing a Conservative government can restore our liberties. On the evidence of this week, it won’t.

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