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The rule of law is dead

“I will not hesitate to move swiftly, without notice and retrospectively if inappropriate ways around these new rules are found. People have been warned.”

– The ‘Right Honourable’ George Osborne MP

The rule of law is officially dead in the United Kingdom

23 comments to The rule of law is dead

  • Osborne is a Conservative? Spits on the ground in disgust.

  • Paul Marks

    This comment was sent to me – but it is a genuine quote and not out of context (I listented to the full one hour speech).

    A possible defence of Mr Osborne is that he does not grasp the implications of what he is saying.

  • David Gillies

    Yeah, that’s a great defence – a so-called Conservative minister is too stupid to understand that certainty under law and that penalties cannot be applied retrospectively are two cornerstones of Common Law jurisprudence.

  • RRS

    As previously stated, in both our nations, we no longer live with a Rule of Law, but a law of rules; and those are the Rules of Policy.

    Policy, in the social context means directing the conduct of others. All Policies are “made” to that end.

  • Lee Moore

    Without wanting in any way to detract from the general feeling of contempt for the odious Mr Osborne (is it just me, or does he sound exctly like Piers Fletcher-Dervish?) – the rule of law, so far as retrospective tax legislation is concerned died some time ago. Gordon Brown brought in retrospective anti avoidance rules in 2004ish, and later got the Treasury to produce a whole report about how effective it had been. And only a month or so, Mr Gauke – presumably on Mr O’s instructions – changed the law retrospectively to dish a Barclays tax scheme.

    To some extent the politicians are late to the game in rejecting the rule of law for tax avoiders. The courts have been at it for years.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed Mr Moore.

    “Modern lawyers” have been rejecting this “reactionary A.V. Dicey stuff about the rule of law” since the elite rejected the arguments of Chief Justice Hewart in his “The New Despotism” (1929).

    However, each step away from the rule of law is still a bad thing.

    Two wrongs (or a whole series of wrongs) do not make a right.

  • Laird

    I guess I don’t understand this “stamp duty”. Where I live, a transfer tax is imposed whenever property changes hands, and it doesn’t matter whether the buyer is an individual, corporation or some other form of entity (although some charitable institutions may be exempt). The tax is the same on all, and you can’t avoid it by putting the house into a corporate name. Is the rule different in England?

  • James

    Laird, if a company owns the property, you just sell the company, thus avoiding stamp duty.

  • Laird

    Ah, I see. Thank you, James.

  • Sam Duncan

    A possible defence of Mr Osborne is that he does not grasp the implications of what he is saying.

    Ah, a variation on what I call the “Robin Cook defence”*, in which one incriminates oneself even further. Very popular these days, for some reason.

    *Orignally, “I didn’t know anything about this because my Department is out of control”.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Osborne listed three advisers in his speech.

    Mr Adam Smith – who as cited as advising that the rich pay more in tax.

    Actually there was no income tax in the time of Mr Smith – he simply warned that consumption taxes should not be weighted on things that the poor tended to rely on more than the rich.

    One can interpret that as Smith wanting proportional taxation – which would mean that everone would pay the same percentage of their income. Rather than there being a 50% rate, a 40% rate a ….. and lots of people paying nothing at all.

    “Out of date Paul – now the top rate is 45%”.

    No it is not.

    Contrary to the impression given in the all the media reports, there was no reduction in taxation on the wealthy yesterday – just a PROMISE of a reduction in April 2013.

    As anyone who has looked at politics will tell you – a promise about something nice a year away, is VALUELESS.

    What is actually happening this year is a massive INCREASE in taxation on the wealthy (via an increase in property taxation).

    To be fair to Mr Osbourne he did say this (several times) and pointed out that it was five times larger than his promised cut in taxation for next year.

    However, no one was listening – they were too busy writing their “pensioners taxed to pay for tax breaks for the rich” stories.

    The big INCREASE in taxation on the wealthy will, of course, hit the economy – especially in London.

    No doubt any problems will be placed on the mythical – “tax cuts for the rich”.

    Mr Osbourne is not alone.

    Mr Wallace and Mr Gromit (the other two advisers that Mr O. mentioined in his speech) do seem to be more sane than the entire media.

  • Hmm

    Ayn Rand is surely writing the storyline… They all (the politicians and Media) seem to want to exude the odour of quintessential ubercorrectness while simultaneously practicing lowlevel covert war on their own( Both their electorate, and amongst themselves).

    There is now a huge political disconnect which drives politicians and media to imagine that nasty consequences (otherwise known as “reality”) somehow magically cease to be when you manipulate the reins of power… We are watching an interminable train crash, while being on the train, handcuffed to our seats and force fed 1970’s British Rail Sandwiches.

    I have a dream: That the rule of Law be based on basic truths and reality, that it should be straightforward, and both understandable and applicable for all. (But I know -it’s just a dream and bobbles along in the same realm of happenstance as Mecca opening a McHammoud’s selling Bacon Butties.)

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Oh, we do have the rule of law here in the West – especially the law that prefaces all the other laws with “When convenient.” The fact is. that ‘sovereign immunity’ makes a mockery of ‘rule of law’ and always has.

    Incidentally, we too have a Robin Cook, a popular novelist who writes horrible medical thrillers premised on the notion that doctors and lawyers act like thirteen-year olds. If your name is “Cook,” naming your child “Robin” is probably a very bad idea.

  • Alisa

    Mmm, bacon…

  • Paul Marks


    Alisa – my father was always offended when offered pork.

    “I am a Jew” he would point out.

    However, he loved bacon.

    I put that in my “human beings are complicated” file.

  • Alisa

    Paul, I like pork in most of its forms, including bacon. However, I can see how a Jew would be offended by having been offered pork without some kind of a qualification by someone who knew full well that he was a Jew. It’s not that complicated.

  • lucklucky

    There are too many law rules to be possible the rule of law.
    Obviously that is the objective.
    Discretionary power is the ultimate Graal of any Bureaucracy.

  • Paul Marks

    Good point Alisa.

    I supect the hospital people did know he was Jewish – “Harry Marks” is a bit of a give-a-way.

    As for the budget.

    Higher taxes in the wealthy – via property taxes.

    Some five times higher than the promised cut in the top rate that is supposed to happen in April 2013 (of course this cut will never actually happen – it will be politically impossible to honour this promise in Aprilk 2013).

    The threats of arbitrary taxation (see the quote).

    Higher taxes on the old (those who still work- all most be dependent on the state it seems).

    More people being sucked into the 40% rate (so much for the 40% only being for “the rich”).

    And lots of new taxes – seemingly a new one being discovered every day as people go into the small print of the budget.

    Almost needless to say …. the Economist magazine thought the budget was wondereful, very free market and brave (the front cover of the Economist magazine was so absurd as to be almost a parody).

    Still at least the company tax rate is being reduced a bit (down to 24% this year – promises for next year are a different matter) and some people at the lower end of income will find themselves no longer paying income tax this April.

    “And next year…” – do not be silly people.

  • Lee Moore

    I have to say that I’m greatly enjoying the “cash for Cameron” saga. Although, on balance, Mr Cameron’s Tories are probably a tiny tiny tiny bit less awful than Labour, they really do need a serious kicking. So them getting caught in a lovely little sting looking like the scum they are, only a week or so after announcing their enthusiasm for retrospective tax laws is almost enough to make one believe in divine providence.

  • But under the last government, it was the boast of some high earners that, with the help of their accountants, they were paying less in tax than their cleaners.

  • But under the last government, it was the boast of some high earners that, with the help of their accountants, they were paying less in tax than their cleaners.

    So what? That justifies rule-by-whim-of-the-government?

  • Paul Marks

    Indeed Perry – Mr Craddock’s comment seems to be “if the rule of law does not achieve the desired result, then get rid of the rule of law”.

    A scene from “A Man For All Seasons” springs to mind – where Thomas Moore (at least a rather idealized verison of him) refutes this opinion in one of his friends.

    Also the quote reminds me of Mr Warren Buffett – an arch bullshitter (if I may use British language).

    In the United States few (if any) cleaners pay any Federal income tax at all. And even in Britain the income tax that a cleaner pays is going to be a tiny fraction of what most rich people pay.

    I should know, after all my mother worked as a cleaner (cleaning other people’s houses) and, as a security guard and then a gate warden, I have worked with cleaners for more than twenty years.

    I doubt Mr Craddock has my level of experience.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way there is a reason that W.B. says the absurd things he does.

    He says these things to distract attention from the vast amounts of corporate welfare he and his company get.

    For example, just after Mr B. invests in railways a pipeline (that would have directly competed with his railway) gets blocked by the government – what a fortunate coincidence?

    Also Mr B. has a habit of buying shares in companies just before they get government bailouts (directly or indirectly).

    Again – a fortunate coincidence. Indeed a whole series of fortunate coincidences.

    However, while idiots are obsessed with “the rich not paying enough tax” (in reality the proportion of government revenue that comes from “the rich” has been going UP for decades) the corporatre welfare that Mr B. and his politically connected chums (such as George Soros) get, goes unnoticed.