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The Lord Chancellor is a coward. And I claim my five pounds.

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-9
08 November 2016 12:50
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past week, you will know that three top judges held that Parliament would need to vote in order to activate Brexit. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Justice Etherton MR and Lord Justice Sales stressed in their judgment that they made no comment on the merits or otherwise of Brexit itself. This was simply a constitutional point.

The Government, which is appealing, was clearly irritated. But the fury of the Daily Mail was unimaginable. It surpassed itself with the following headline:

     

Yup. Three senior judges who did exactly what they were paid to do are "enemies of the people". How dare they prevent the government for doing whatever it wants without consulting Parliament? And in case the collective spleen of Middle England wasn't sufficiently inflamed by this audacity, some handy biographies were given of the judges.

Lord Thomas is a "committed Europhile" who "banked £1m" when he downsized his family home. And he went to Cambridge. Sales LJ  "charged taxpayers £3.3m in six years" as the Government's First Treasury Counsel. He came from the same set as Tony Blair, and we all know he's a wrong 'un. And he went to Cambridge AND Oxford. And Etherton MR qualified for the 1980 Olympics as part of the British Fencing Team. A few weeks ago it was all about our Olympic Heroes. But if you're the Master of the Rolls then it just smacks of elitism, eh? And fencing, that sounds a bit iffy, doesn't it? Sure enough we're told for no reason whatsoever that Etherton is "openly gay". And he might be a bit Jewish, too. "In 2014, he and his partner, solicitor Andrew Stone, took part in the first Jewish ceremonies at a UK synagogue to convert a civil partnership into marriage".

This sort of inflammatory bilge from the Daily Mail is hardly new. Here's a headline from back in the day:

   

And if the Supreme Court finds against the government, presumably we'll have this to look forward to:

     

The vaguely sentient haemorrhoids who write from the Mail are paid to come up with this rabble-rousing nonsense. But you might expect the Lord Chancellor, on behalf of the judiciary, to take issue with it. And you would be wrong.

Nothing was heard from Liz Truss for days. When she finally put out a statement it was a sanitised, cowardly effort designed to appease her political masters. It grudgingly acknowledged that the judiciary should be independent, but it absolutely failed to make any criticism of the Mail.

Truss's appointment as Lord Chancellor back in July was widely ridiculed. Her allies said that much of this was down to misogyny, which might well have been the case - David Mellor this week described her as a "delightful girl". She isn't a lawyer. Neither were her two predecessors, Gove and Grayling, said her camp. True. But Gove was completely useless and Grayling was verging on insane. And her record prior to the job was notable largely for her excruciating speeches.  “We import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace." Hmmm.

Nonetheless she was sworn in with an oath to champion the judiciary. And within a few weeks she has broken it and lost the confidence of pretty much the entire profession. She could, and should, have waded in and destroyed the Mail's points one by one. Dominic Grieve (I declare an interest, a friend), whom absolutely everyone expected to get Truss's job, was immediately on Newsnight telling anyone who'd listen that the Mail and Telegraph were an absolute disgrace and that this sort of coverage "started to make one think that one was living in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe … I think there’s a danger of a sort of mob psyche developing".

Tory Justice Minister Lord Faulks resigned when Truss was appointed. He said "I have nothing against Ms Truss personally. But is she going to have the clout to be able to stand up to the prime minister when necessary on behalf of the judges?" At the time he was criticised for failing even to give her a chance. But he's been shown to be completely right, surely?

Truss's cravenly supine position can only encourage this mob mentality and assist the far right. Nigel Farage has announced that he's going to get 100,000 of his swivel-eyed disciples to march on the Supreme Court, just to press home to the judiciary what will happen to them if they fail to bow to the will of the people. Again, no word from Truss. It's scandalous.

  

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anonymous user
08/11/2016 22:14
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Quite a generalisation of 100,000 people.
anonymous user
08/11/2016 23:41
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Damn straight Matthew. What a shame on the profession. I give her until Christmas before she's out of a job.
anonymous user
09/11/2016 15:56
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He has 17m to pick his 100,000 from. The prospects of them all being swivel-eyed are reasomably high
anonymous user
10/11/2016 13:41
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Well said, Matthew. Shame on Liz Truss. And shame on Theresa May, too.
anonymous user
11/11/2016 16:32
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Oooh, a "friend" of Dominic Grieve. Oooh.
anonymous user
11/11/2016 18:18
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Err, maybe he is just a friend and Matthew is simply disclosing the interest?

Politicians have friends too, you know.
anonymous user
13/11/2016 08:33
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She's a middle talent politician. The past few years have seen the roll turn into a political appointment/stepping stone to the next job. It's not another instrument of government policy. But that's the PM's fault.