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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

“Conservatives Promise Reform of ‘Abused’ Judicial Review” And it Worries Me

Posted by DeadAnarchistPhil on December 9, 2019

There’s another general election on December 12th and the Conservative party are planning another reform of ‘Judicial Review‘ – the third time as a matter of fact. In their last three manifestos the Conservatives have promised reform as they say Judicial Review has been abused to interfere in politics.

For those who don’t know (or haven’t read the above link) a Judicial Review is “... a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.” So basically holding the Government and other public bodies to account.

A  recent example of this was a judicial  review brought forward by Gina Miller against the Government’s Prorogation of Parliament, which she and others viewed as unlawful because it blocked MP’s from scrutinising the Conservative Government’s Brexit plans. Subsequently the UK high court agreed with Miller and Scotland’s Supreme Civil Court and found the Prorogation justiciable and unlawful. You can see other examples of judicial review in action here and here.

It would be intellectually dishonest of me to not mention there was more to the prorogation of Parliament other than the Boris Johnson-led executive trying to unlawfully evade Parliamentary scrutiny of his withdrawl bill.

While I disagree with the prorogation personally I see why it happened, it was a reaction to another undemocratic act – a collective one. That act was the majority of UK MP’s not respecting the vote of the UK electorate to leave the European Union in 2016. Many of those MPs have their own reasons for arguing against leaving, some say the electorate were mislead, lied to and didn’t know what they were voting for. I could argue against this but that’s a different blog and not want I want to talk about here. The fact is the majority voted to leave and were ignored, which is just as undemocratic to me as avoiding parliamentary scrutiny using unlawful prorogation.

Which brings me to section in the Conservative manifesto that concerns me… On page 48 they state:

After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to
ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that
it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless
delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.

There’s a few things in there we could unpick, but this piece worried me:

“… while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.”

It’s all quite vague and ambiguous, most likely on purpose so candidates can make it mean what they want and because the Conservative party is quite divided right now.

Though to me, from what I’m reading, it seems they want to remove scrutiny and thus accountability. They have seen how they’ve been blocked in the past and do not want it to happen again. This isn’t accountability, it’s centralisation of power and the removal of the executive (PM and cabinet) from scrutiny.

The UK tripartite system of politics works when the Judiciary, Executive and Parliament are all independent and exercising restraint on each other. Removing the Executive from that unbalances the system and our democracy, giving the PM and Ministers free rule to do what they want.

The vast majority of judicial reviews that have been conducted have found that public bodies have over stepped their bounds, there has been no abuse of the system, just the perceived abuse Boris Johnson and his cabinet see. Or maybe they don’t see it, maybe they just see an opportunity? If they really cared about “… access to justice for ordinary people” then they’d reduced the £100,000 fee we currently have pay to start one.

Obviously we’re far from a dictatorship, but the precedent it sets is a very bad one. Once we start down that slippery slope it’s a long way back. The idea of doing something undemocratic in the name of Democracy is counterintuitive. However, call me a cynic if you like, I don’t think it’s about democracy or accountability, it’s about power and money.

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Scottish Independence?

Posted by DeadAnarchistPhil on May 11, 2011

The Scottish National Party (SNP) won a majority of 69 seats in the Scottish Parliament! Now there’s talk of Independence? Before I get on to that, can I just say that the SNP only won so many seats for two reasons which were:

1 – It was about leader popularity and not policy

2 – The People of Scotland were fed-up with Labour and the Lib-Dems

I’ve heard and read a lot of people calling Scotland a “Drain on England’s resources.” and “We [the english] subsidise Scotland!” This isn’t 100% true! The UK Government takes all of Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and uses some of it to subsides some other parts of England and the UK, the same way it does with English GDP. The fact is that if Scotland was to go independent then Its GDP would be slightly higher than that of England’s because they’d have 90% of North Sea Oil and Gas.

This doesn’t mean Scotland is a victim here, it is part of a Union, the same as other nations inside of it, and money is dished out accord to population, and Scotland has a population of about five million people, which is why they get a little less back in funds each year. But Scotland is still not getting Its full amount. It’s said spending per head in Scotland is 20% higher than it is in the rest of the UK, which is true, but that money is spent of behalf of Scotland, and some it doesn’t make it to Scotland and goes elsewhere, mostly likely back to London.

So, I think it’s fair to say Scotland isn’t a burden on the UK and nor does England subsidise it, in fact Scotland has been helping to subsidises the UK, but this is nothing new and has always happened, but Scotland does not fund the UK as much as the Scottish Nationalist make out.

It’s also fair to say if Scotland did leave the Union that the UK and England would be fine! Yes, the UK would lose a lot of GDP, but we’d still be OK. The idea we’d sink over night is absurd. But Scotland does have legitimate grievances for leaving, the biggest is the squandering of the North Sea Oil by successive UK Governments, misplaced funds and a misconception that Scotland is some kind of leech on the rest of the UK.

My personal Opinion is that we’re stronger together, than we are apart! Yes, both nations would go on fine if we separated, but we’d be nowhere near as strong in the world together as we are now. Heres why:

We’re currently the Nation with the 3rd largest military budget and a world power, yes, maybe secondary, but still a power. We currently have the power to resist political pressure from the EU, USA and even China because we have our combined economic, military and cultural strengths. Apart? Well, we’re going to get sucked in to the European Union, if that isn’t there we’ll be pawns of either the U.S, China or one of the other large emerging economic powers like Brasil, Russia or India.

The above isn’t fearmongering, which is what the SNP would have you believe, nor is it impossible, it’s what will happen at some point because the world’s political and economic power structure is rapidly changing from West to East. And the Nations of the UK, whether together or apart, will come under increasing economic and political pressure from other world powers, but together, we can resist that.

Of course if the Union stays together is a matter for the people of Scotland. And to be honest, seeing the Pro-Union side consisting of David Cameron and his party, Ed Miliband and his party as well as the Leb-Dems with the background of financial turmoil caused by Economic cuts, the Scottish electorate will vote for independence in three to four years. Who wouldn’t vote “YES!” with Union activists like the above?

I forgot the issue of Scotland leaving the British Union and then joining the European Union. What is the difference between the British Union and European one? At least in the British one you have more freedom and wont be federalised, which is what will happen with the EU within the next three decades. And when you’re locked in to the European Union it’ll really hurt for any country to leave because the EU will make it harder for any outside of the EU to do business within the EU (That’s a forced incentive to join). Scotland as well as England may not be able to leave or resist an EU looking for federation (more control and political union) if we’re apart. Of course, the SNP would call this ‘fear mongering’ again, but it is truth.

We need a whole new political structure for the country, we need a British Confederation of States, one where each constituent nation has its own Parliament with a main westminster parliament that looks after limited taxation, military and foreign policy. That way the Union works for the individual nations, and not the other way around.

This could be the new British Confederation flag. I think Wales should be represented on it to.

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