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Smoothing the EU path

We have received a number of e-mails from our readers in the past couple of days asking for our views on the decision (or, at least, attempt) by Tony Blair to abolish the office of the Lord Chancellor which he announced as a part of his cabinet reshuffle at the end of last week.

The Office of Lord Chancellor has been around for some 1400 years. He is the head and the overseer of the Judiciary and he is responsible for appointing Judges and running the Courts. But, he is also a member of the Executive as he sits in the Cabinet. He is, if you will, the interface between the Executive and the Judiciary. Some have suggested that this is a less than ideal method for ensuring judicial independence but, in fact, rigourous observance of custom has served to maintain judicial independence very effectively for a very long time.

Blair intends to abolish the Chancellor and replace him with a independent committee to appoint Judges and an ‘Office of the Constitution’ to advice the government on constitutional matters. This has all presented (to the extent that it has been explained at all) as merely the latest stage of the Blair ‘modernisation’ agenda which is intended to provide us with more accountable, responsive government…yadda, yadda, yadda.

What is not being said (but which, fortunately, is not being overlooked) is that Blair is trying to eradicate Britain’s remaining constitutional arrangements so as to render us more EU-compatible. Not to mention, of course, that the new offices are highly likely to be staffed with manipulable Blairite cronies.

However, this is not quite all going to plan. There is a hubbub from senior Judges and much of the press and Blair has been forced to give a statement explaining his actions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Added to which, there is the possibility of a legal challenge because nobody seems quite sure whether the Prime Minister actually has the power to abolish the Lord Chancellor. As best as I can tell, the power may exist but, by custom, it has never been exercised so nobody is entirely sure if it does, in fact, exist and, if so, under what circumstances it may be exercised.

Oh it’s all a big mess and it is for that reason that we have not yet (as some or our readers inquired) plunged in with our usual robust denunciations and insights. This is just one of a whole batch of country-altering measures that the executive seems to be rushing into enactment with unseemly haste. In fact, the hits are coming so thick and so fast that it is difficult to keep up to date with it all, even for a group effort like this blog.

My take, for what it’s worth, is that all this chaos is the result of Blair’s fawning promises to Brussels. Suddenly, he has realised that we are not ‘Europeanised’ enough to be swallowed whole and hence the frantic, sweaty haste to disassemble our constitutional arrangements and render us fit to be served up to new masters. A fitting metaphor I reckon for Blair and his minsters seem as nothing more than harrassed waiters working frenetically to prepare the banquet table prior to the imminent swarm of hungry VIPs.

The day soon cometh, methinks.

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24 comments to Smoothing the EU path

  • This topic came up a few days ago over at our spot on the nature of written vs. unwritten constitutions and whether the US Constitution has been a factor in maintaining a ‘culture of liberty’ in the US. Since posting that, of course, Blair has provided a rather interesting example of what could be done (categorically speaking) in the UK (or, rather, perhaps can be done; depending on possible legal challenges) that I don’t believe could be done in the US. So I’ve been following the case with interest born of serendipity, I suppose.

    I am also quite interested in understanding the legal aspects and tradition behind this particular mess and the British constitution in general. Any suggestions for reading?

  • Just Another Richard

    Brian

    “The English Consitution” by Walter Bagehot.
    Although written over 130 years ago it is still quite relevant and gives a clear insight into the workings of Cabinet government.

    On second thoughts maybe that sentence should read…”was quite relevant”…untill the advent of Rev. Blair and his sycophantic choir boyz (and girls). (Heavens, where would we be without the likes of Mo Molem and Clare Short to remind us of all our moral shortcomings?)

  • Toni

    Wait a min, all that’s going on in the UK? And the Tories are shut up? No conservative claiming that he’ll restore all those traditions if he gets elected? We’ll regret not having had any Anti-Federalists Papers in the Old World…

  • One friend thought the Lord Chancellor removal was worrying enough that he sent an SMS to my mobile phone to alert me hoping he could get me, er, trundling into action, red alert mode. Made me feel terribly important for about two minutes.

  • I hear that even Her Majesty was unpleasantly suprised by Tone’s announcement of changes. That true?

    And what was this about the Lord Chancellor having to don his robe and wig of old to convene the House of Lords, which is something the new person isn’t empowered to do?

    I guess when Tony and his Tranzi pals were working this out on the back of the envelope, they forgot the many roles filled by the LC and missed one.

    We’re praying for you over here, Britain.
    Tony must be stopped!
    Britain must be saved from the EU and the EUro!

  • Liberty Belle

    I’m going to behave uncharacteristically and look on the bright side. Derry Irvine told Blair he wasn’t legally competent to abolish the Lord Chancellorship. So, ever the short-sighted pragmatist, Blair held a gun to his head and suggested he resign, putting his old flatmate Falconer in instead. Poof! Just like that! (And after all that money we spent on wallpaper!) Falconer, of course, is not a constitutional lawyer and is an intellectual lightweight, which makes him such a compatible pal for Toneeeee.

    Now, has anyone noticed the elephant?

    No? By all accounts, while not being on genius level, word has it that Irvine has quite a load of intellectual gravitas on board. I think being deprived of his lofty position – not to mention all that new decor – by an uppity lightweight and former pupil like Blair is going to rankle. I suspect that Derry Irvine will make a dangerous enemy. I certainly hope so. And now that he doesn’t have anything to do, a very dedicated enemy. The man has “schemer” written all over his face, and he’s not an impetuous gadfly like Blair.

    David, you are correct that they are trying to erase Britain’s identity, as they erased, in the schools, our history – anything that makes us proud of our nationality has to go so we can be run through the EU sausage machine with all the right ingredients and none of the wrong ones, like nationalism, whether we consent to it or not.

  • Brian Micklethwait

    Last night (now being Tuesday morning British time) I spoke with Sean Gabb, who told me that he had just finished a “rant” about this, which will soon be a Free Life Commentary. He had rung me earlier on another matter, and I begged him to write something about this, since of all of us here he probably understands things like this best. As soon as his piece is internet-available I’ll link to it.

  • Dave Farrell

    Well, people in Britain don’t seem to be keeping quiet about this any more. I believe the pressure for public consultation and a referendum on the Euro constitution will become politicially irresistible. I have seen on the main UK television outlets – Sky and BBC –- plenty of very loud dissent on the stealthy coup by Labour.

    The other thing that is undercutting Blair’s push is the Franco-German determination to make Europe a counterpower to the US. This shows no sign of flagging and can be seen daily in many ways. This is not something he dares sign up to.

  • To any Americans reading this who’re still in love with Tony Blair, imagine this. Imagine if Colin Powell, because of some unforeseen quirk in your constitution which made it possible for him to do this, decided to abolish the Supreme Court without asking the President, or consulting with the Democrats, or any other Republican, and did all this against the advice of the head of the Supreme Court, whom Powell sacks for his troubles, and for daring to speak back. Oh, and by the way, this ex-head of the Supreme court was the US Army General who promoted Powell from Major, in Vietnam, to Colonel. (I add this just by way of spice.)

    And then Powell decided to replace your Supreme Court with some soon-to-be-worked-out body which suited some “International Justice” diktat from Belgium, and the United Nations.

    Oh, and in the meantime, replaced the head of the Supreme Court with some unknown and unelected non-Judge friend from his early rifle squadron days in New York, say the platoon drill sergeant, Sgt. L. Falconer.

    How would that make you feel about Colin Powell?

    Take that feeling and hold it at the front of your mind for a moment. Now add in his further unilateral decision to make the head of the Federal Reserve Board act as part-time Governor for Texas, and Donald Rumsfeld act as part-time Governor for Alaska. But to make both of them report to his new friend, heading up the interim Supreme Court, Platoon Sgt. L. Falconer.

    We haven’t finished yet. Now add in his desire to offer the citizens of Wyoming, and Nebraska a vote for a regional supra-state body, which will get a greater share of federal funds than previously, because this is constitutionally important, but won’t offer everyone in the US a vote on his constitutional plan to make all US state and federal law subservient to the International Court of Justice, in the Hague, and the UN, and Belgium, because this isn’t constitutionally important enough.

    If you can’t understand how any of the above fits together logically, but do realise its future implications for liberty within your country, for the last ingredient, add in the small matter that General Powell mentioned none of this, either before Bush’s election, or in any moment up to his plan’s announcement.

    How you feeling now? About Colin Powell?

    Because that’s how we feel about Tony Blair.

    I fervently hope and pray his days are numbered. Even his own supporters think he’s lost the plot, and I hope I’m right when I say he will be history in less than six months.

    If he is, remember you read it here first! 🙂

    (BTW, I’m a Powell man and I’m confident he will defeat Hilary Clinton in 2008 – she won’t come forward in 2004, she knows if she does Bush will turn her into toast! 🙂

  • G Cooper

    I share David Carr’s feelings that we are being softened-up for the EU by this measure. Indeed, I commented at some length yesterday, in the thread about Samizdata’s relations with the EU, on just this issue of the suddenly more urgent pace of constitutional revolution and national decline.

    Unless one of my last remaining brain cells has let me down, don’t I recall that there was a European judgement effectively against the very concept of having a Lord Chancellor, sometime within the last year or so? I seem to recall that our lords and masters objected to a politician being a judge and having power over judges. Obviously, this isn’t ideal in theory, but after 1,400 years we seem to have developed the knack of making it work.

    However, I don’t think this is entirely about the EU. Indeed, I think the proper explanation runs the other way: that Blair’s Europhilia is a product of his lack of intelligence and his complete (and possibly unique among prime ministers) lack of sympathy with the essential nature of country which he rules.

    My perception is that Phony Tony is, as has frequently been observed, a Blair of little brain and even less learning. If he actually knows any history at all, clearly he lacks any comprehension of its importance. Plainly, he loathes and detests tradition and the result of this is to make him one of the most dangerous prime ministers we have had in the past 100 years. Without actually being a Bolshevik, he is behaving like one, sweeping the silverware from the table, tearing the hangings from the walls and dreaming of collective farms. Because of this, he is more of a threat to Gt Britain than previous Labour PMs, many of whom were far further to the orthodox Left than he.

    Seeing Blair in this light explains *why* he is so obsessed with giving Britain away to the Franco-German empire. To put the horse before the cart, Blair would have wanted to abolish the House of Lords and the Lord Chancellor’s office, EU or no EU. Like a glassy-eyed schoolboy, staring out of the window, lost in his daydreams while knowledge washes past him, Blair doesn’t understand and doesn’t wish to, what Britain is about.

    And like the dreaming schoolboy, his mind is filled with visions of a glass and stainless steel future. That none of his bridges would stay up, or his buildings endure, doesn’t occur to him. The imprecision of his speech, the way words tumble from his mouth like logorrhoea, punctuated with his ‘you knows’ and ‘looks’ and ‘reallys’ reveals his nature: incautious, impatient, imprudent, driven.

    Detail doesn’t matter. Facts are just detail. Tony Blair has visions and we must follow. After all – it’s ‘modern’ – and that’s what really counts..

  • Liberty Belle

    Well, G Cooper, what can I say? You wield an elegant blade and it certainly found its mark. Every word was cutting and true. I would just add that though Blair has concentrated to date on unpicking the UK stitch by stitch, he is now – under the time constraint – ripping entire seams of the British constitution apart in a frenzied attempt to meet the deadline. (I do agree with you that he would have tried to do this even without the EU, but certainly the deadline down at the Old Frog ‘n’ Hun has added an element of urgency.)

  • Hi G Cooper,

    I think you’re right about Blair. He’s following Herr Hayek’s Road to Serfdom by tearing down anything he doesn’t understand because he doesn’t understand it.

    But the interesting question, is why is Blair like this?

    Prep school, Fettes, Oxford, Bar School, Chambers, the House of Commons – the boy’s had it all, and mostly in arenas packed with tradition. He was (by all accounts) good looking, his Tory father probably supplied him with plenty of cash, the only sexual failure in his life (by his own account), was Anji Hunter. So just what is the problem? Why is he a socialist? Where is the usual HUGE chip on the shoulder combined with immense cleverness?

    There’s only one answer. All the embittered poison must come from Cherie. She has all the symptoms: drunken father, poor scouse background, never going to be a super-model (not with those thighs). It’s classic clever-chip-on-the-shoulder-envy-the-good-looking-rich-kids territory.

    If I’m right, don’t blame Tony. It is Cherie who is the enemy, she who will have filled his head with all of its noxiousness, she the clever lawyer who destroyed English Common Law, she who is foisting upon us a horrible Euroland future, where people like her order people like us, the serfs, around.

    Why? Because she hates us. Why does she hate us? Because she has allowed her childhood neuroses to fester for too many years. If she wasn’t ruining my life, I’d be running a charity fund to help her.

    But this is even more frightening. Richard Littlejohn was right all along! 🙂

    PS> BTW did you hear that David Milliband this morning on Radio Pravda? By God, has that man swallowed the New Labour bible or what? Crazy baby. It reminded me of all those years ago when I used to listen to Radio Moscow and the success stories of East German agriculture. I think the “Wormtongue” award must pass from Mr Hain, to Mr Milliband. Though even my apolitical wife said “Who’s that? He sounds like a politician.” I fear New Labour voices are losing their charm! 😉

  • G Cooper

    Andy Duncan ponders:

    “But the interesting question, is why is Blair like this?”

    It is, I agree, an interesting question and you may well be right that his hateful wife is the Lady Macbeth in this drama.

    Of Blair’s background I have no more knowledge than most, but I do recall a former school master of his describing him in terms which, though I expect he meant them to be kind, were very unflattering. It seems that young master Blair was the boy who was forever irritatingly sticking his head round the door, eyes glazed bright with enthusiasm for some ‘helpful suggestion’ about how this or that could be improved at the school.

    The picture painted was of someone who just *knew* he was right and who had an urge to change. The child, indeed, was father to the man. He ain’t changed a bit.

    Nature or nurture? As usual, I find myself on the side of: ‘because the bugger was born that way’.

  • mark holland

    Re: the English regions bullshit. It’s definately being imposed by the EU (cch putt)

    I mean just look at their own map for goodness sake.

    How long until we see ein Volksaufstand in Britain, photo here if you don’t know what I mean.

  • Liberty Belle

    Andy Duncan, re Tony Blair, “immense cleverness”? Are we talking about the same Tony Blair? Prime minister of Britain? Lives at No 10 Downing St, London? Sometimes attendee of the House of Commons? Ghoul at royal funerals? That Tony Blair? Was he ever awarded a brief anyone actually paid for (other than Legal Aid)? Even Derry Irvine has never said that Tony Blair was bright. His high self-regard has always been a mystery to me.

    But your question remains: why is he like he is?
    Why was such a fervent member of the CND? How deep were his principles that he dropped out when he realised membership would make him unelectable?

    Why has he chosen to take the nuclear option to the British constitution and every pillar of society that makes Britain Britain? Why does he loathe Britain so much is the key. I do not believe that this depth of hatred can be ascribed to his wife. It’s somewhere deep inside Blair.

    We do know Blair’s been a superficial attention-seeker all his life, and he seems to have an overweening sense of entitlement.

    No one is second to me, not even Richard Littlejohn, in finding Cherie ghastly in every sense, from her trailer park trash name to the sausage effect in the Hinduja Bros gifted saris, but she wasn’t deprived. Her father may have been a drunk – I don’t know – but he was a TV star, so she didn’t grow up poor. She’s just a preachy, ambitious, rather greedy woman, like Hillary Clinton, except Hillary slimmed down and got a decent hairdo. She’s said to be smarter than Blair. So-o-o-o-o?

  • Rich

    I just don’t get this regional assembly thing, we are going to get dragged kicking and screaming into the EU, Parliament will be a talking shop with little real power. So where the hell does that leave regional assemblies? We are either having regional representation or we are having a Federal europe, how can having both be anything other than redundant.
    Please, will an American reader out there adopt me and my family, we don’t like it here anymore!

    p.s. Had a bet with my Mum about 2 hours ago. Tenner on Our Tone having a nervous breakdown within a year. What do you reckon?

  • Hi Liberty Belle,

    Sorry. I didn’t write that very well.

    I wasn’t suggesting Tony Blair was immensely clever, though even on my own re-reading it does seem like that! 🙂

    It’s just that most formidable socialists are “heavyweight clever”, and are driven by a “heavyweight chip” on their shoulder, usually from childhood (eg: Gordon Brown, cleverer than a hatful of goblins, and a glass eye from childhood which has twisted him into a monster; Robin Cook, eats intellectual lefties for breakfast, can edit himself while speaking on legal issues in the Commons, and is an ugly gnome who almost certainly couldn’t get a girlfriend till he reached for the elixir of power! :).

    What’s surprising about Blair is that, as G Cooper suggests, he is an intellectual lightweight, and he doesn’t appear to have a chip on his shoulder about anything, from childhood. Therefore he lacks the two essential stigmata of your heavyweight socialist.

    It’s a psychological puzzle. But then again, maybe it’s just that ol’ truism “absolute power corrupts absolutely”? And would the British people have elected him if he did display the stigmata of socialism? Of all the do-gooding middle-class weirdos in the Labour Party, maybe he was the only one who was electable?

    Rgds,
    AndyD

  • dave fordwych

    Rich

    The regional assemblies are an essential part of the federal plan.

    The idea is to destroy the old nation states which- having a history of independent action- might at some point rebel and cause problems.By -for example- breaking up the UK into Scotland N.Ireland Wales Geordieland,Yorshire+Humberside etc. The North West ,The South West, London etc.etc. and doing the same with the rest of the nation states, they will create “A Europe of the Regions” with regional assemblies owing allegiance first and foremost to Brussels.In time the old national parliaments will simply wither away and die and we -the citizens of Europe – will enter into the bright sunlit uplands of everlasting peace and harmony.

    That’s the plan anyway,as far as I can figure it out.

  • Liberty Belle

    Andy Duncan – Oh. Okay. You frightened me there for a minute. I thought there might be one person in Britain who took Blair at his own valuation.

    I agree. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder.

    He has, instead, a limitless sense of entitlement. He is self-congratulatory. He thinks he deserves admiration. Why, I wonder, given his intellectual achievements and flatline charm level?

    But the key question is, why does he hate Britain and everything Britain stands for? It’s as though he has never felt a part of Britain and hates our country for some reason and is seeking revenge. Come to think of it, there’s something curiously insubstantial about him. And there is a strange monitoring quality about him. Tony Blair is one eerie dude.

  • Katherine

    Andy, I have to confess that your Powell al la Blair scenario does not change my view on the general, because I belive that he is nothing than a Tranzi in a uniform. And although Blair’s support in the Iraqi war was very important for the US, I never forgot that he is a socialist. I only hope that Blair finally overreached and British people will come to their senses. Where is Lady Thatcher when you need her?

  • Rich

    Dave,
    Thanks for the clarification. It’s all so easy to see the need for this now.
    Is this why they are getting regional referendums? Which then gives the regional assemblies a popular mandate. Allowing them to exist beyond any future Gov’s wish or ability to see them gone.
    If we vote for them will they be here forever?
    Can they be abolished in the future?

    Sorry about all the questions.
    I’m very dense today.

  • Katherine

    As to why Tone is the way he is, I think the answer is simple: the guy is after Power. His choice is to have a chance of becoming a President of Unified Europe at the cost of the British ancient liberties and institutions, or to stay a mere PM, being subjected to electoral whims of sovereign Britain. For a really ambitious man without an ounce of humility the choice is rather obvious, don’t you think?
    Personally, I think that not only he was born this way, but his entire privileged upbringing screwed him us beyond redemption.

  • Liberty Belle

    Oh, for heaven’s sake, Katherine! He didn’t have a “privileged” upbringing! He had a middle class upbringing. I would imagine his parents had to calculate carefully for his school fees. I don’t know who paid for him to go to Oxford, but I doubt whether it was him or his parents. No offence, but this seems to me a very facile argument.

    Our friend on another thread, the affable Boris Johnson went to Eton, a far greater privilege, and he seems to be a level headed man, albeit with that killer Eton charm.

    Even if Blair had had, which he didn’t, a “privileged upbringing” why would that “screw him up”? Do you want everyone levelled down so no one gets a “privileged” upbringing? President Bush had a “privileged upbringing”, that’s for sure and he was a real screw up during his young years. Then he got mature and is now a stable, level headed individual. Al Gore had such a “privileged upbringing”, being from an old and revered Tennessee political dynasty and groomed from boyhood for the presidency. A case could be made that Al “I invented the internet” Gore is screwed up, but I don’t think it had anything to do with his upbringing. Some people are just outside the loop. Tony Blair’s hatred of Britain is deep and bitter.

  • Rick

    Quick Question:
    If the P.M. is trying to radically restructure the government by removing an office that has been around more-or-less successfully doing its proper job for 1400 years, would the Queen (whose own job is older) grant her consent to this, or would she prevent it in the exercise of her role as protector of the state? And, if she did object, what then?