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Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

Prime Minister George Grenville was the author of the 1765 stamp act – which led, in time, to the creation of the United States, but that was very far from his intent. In terms of mere formal law, Grenville had a good case for believing he could do what he did. In an obituary, Edmund Burke explained how a well-meaning man of some ability could cause so much trouble. After studying law, Grenville

did not go very largely into the world but plunged into … the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there.

Men who only know the world of government administration are dangerously limited:

habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well, as long as things go on in their common order, but when the high roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more comprehensive understanding of things, is requisite than office ever gave, or than office can ever give.

As regards Tommy Robinson:

– Sending him to jail for 13 months was ever so politically correct.

– As discussed in the comment threads of a couple of posts below, it may well also be formally correct – not in terms of some new-minted ‘hate speech’ law but in terms of established UK trial precedents. We will not know for absolute certain till we hear more (including what – if anything – Mr Robinson can say for himself), but between those who wonder if he engaged in deliberate Gandhi-style law-breaking, those who wonder if he had a layman’s (mis)understanding of the law, and those who think he’s an idiot or worse, there is ample scope for it.

– Who thinks it is actually correct to send Mr Robinson to jail for 13 months while we have yet to hear of the Rotherham councillors (or any of their imitators elsewhere) serving 13 days? (Being ordered to apologise for what they did to whistleblowers does not quite compare.)

As Burke told the MPs who voted to tax the north american colonies,

All we have a right to do is not always wise to be done.

18 comments to Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

  • Phil B

    While we can argue about the law being absolute, the sanctity of the courts and whether TR was rightly or wrongly jailed, this blog post summarises a number of creeping and nebulous concepts that I have had swirling around my mind for a long while:

    https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-collapse-of-governmental-legitimacy.html

    If the Government has lost credibility and legitimacy in the minds of the population, what then? The TR affair, together with Brexit are pushing perilously close to the edge.

    I doubt that we will vote our way out of this cul de sac …

  • terence patrick hewett

    The question I asked some months ago was – “Exactly how much narrative in newspapers is computer-generated?” This seems to be the one that the DT uses – and it looks pretty red-hot. Like driverless cars some people cannot believe it is happening – but it is.

    https://jxpress.net/about/about-jx-press/

  • bobby b

    American law provides that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to legal representation.

    What if all lawyers were simply ordered to drop their business and represent the accused – for free – in order to satisfy this entitlement?

    What if Lawyer Bobby declined to do so – arguing that the burden for ensuring criminal representation ought not be laid on one small portion of society, but should be shouldered by all – and was charged with a crime because of his refusal?

    Do we simply declare that Bobby broke a properly written law, written in order to ensure fair treatment of the accused, and so there is no controversy, the discussion is over, let’s move on?

    Some here have declared that Robinson broke a properly-written-and-passed law that was adopted to ensure the fair treatment of criminals, and so the discussion is over. We have ensured that fair trials occur, free from improper juror influence, and so there is nothing left to say.

    It’s a forest-for-the-trees thing. You cannot cure a judicial defect through another, worse, judicial defect. You ought not protect the fair trial by gagging society when there are simpler, more effective ways.

  • Mr Ecks

    Far more details than TR put out on his video were already in the public domain–so to Hell with the Beak and his tender concern for “fair” trials. A concern entirely absent when the state was actively egging on the climate of hysteria which was the foundation of old white sleb trials.

    Which egging certainly involved the now (deservedly) disgraced A. Saunders. Saunders of the CPS was certainly the Grey Eminence ( altho’ The Bulk would be a better label) behind those farcical and dodgy trials. And the “Bulk Smash” command quite possibly went all the way to the FFC –whose creature Bulkie was at the Home Office.

    Release Tommy Robinson now –and punish the Beak–I’m sure TPTB can find some bullshit pretext for that. After all that is their job.

  • Diomedes

    American law provides that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to legal representation.

    What if all lawyers were simply ordered to drop their business and represent the accused – for free – in order to satisfy this entitlement?

    I don’t know if it’s still the case, but Houston, TX used to use this system in lieu of a permanent public defender’s office; criminal lawyers who wanted to practice in Harris County had to put their names in the hat and be drafted to provide indigent representation. (I think they did still get paid by the county.)

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I sometimes think that we should have public-funded Lawyer stations, were you could go for a ‘free’ talk about any legal matters, in the same way you can enter Police stations to make complaints.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I sometimes think that we should have public-funded Lawyer stations, where you could go for a ‘free’ talk about any legal matters, in the same way you can enter Police stations to make complaints.

  • JadedLibertarian

    The UK’s problems run far deeper than TR. The government is perilously close to becoming an open enemy of the people.

    The brexit thing is the worst. We democratically voted to do something the ruling classes do not want to do, and like a petulant toddler they’re deliberately doing it slowly, badly and with a maximum of complaint in the hope that we’ll backtrack on our demand. This is utterly unacceptable.

    But this culture problem runs right through society to much more mundane things. Last week I was on my way home from a long day at work. I was overtaking another car at 50mph in a 50-zone dual carriageway. As we entered a 40-zone, I delayed my deceleration so I could complete my overtake and get in the correct lane. I had done so and was obeying the speed limit within 100 yards of the speed limit change. It was then that I realised that, hidden behind the brow of a hill, hundreds of yards away, invisible to the naked eye and pointing right at the speed limit change was a speed camera van.

    I’ve been worrying all week about whether a ticket will come. I’ve been driving 17 years and have never broken a single law. If I get a ticket, the fine and the increase in my insurance means we will struggle to make ends meet this month. My 13 year old daughter needs a new bicycle, and I’ve had to tell her that it will only be this month if I don’t get a ticket because otherwise we can’t afford it. Now this situation I find myself in is completely unambiguous legally: I did break the law. But I would contend that the fact that I’m even having to worry about this is not just and speaks poorly of the relationship between the UK government and the citizenry.

    Legal injustice is becoming more and more common in the UK and I wonder how much a society can endure before it ceases to function. If the people genuinely feel they have no means of redress through the soap box, jury box or ballot box, then there’s only one left.

  • jim jones

    “I sometimes think that we should have public-funded Lawyer stations, were you could go for a ‘free’ talk about any legal matters, in the same way you can enter Police stations to make complaints.”

    Good luck finding an open Police Station in London

  • >The government is perilously close to becoming an open enemy of the people.

    Close? Are you living in 2008?

  • Mr Ed

    “I sometimes think that we should have public-funded Lawyer stations, were you could go for a ‘free’ talk about any legal matters, in the same way you can enter Police stations to make complaints.”

    Well most people have some form of home or car insurance, and for around £20 a year can get legal expenses insurance, along with access to legal helplines that can give basic legal advice and assessments of the situation. There is a private solution to all this, any public service would be monopolised by those eager for vengeance for wrongs, however slight or even imaginary.

  • APL

    JadedLibertarian: “I’ve been worrying all week about whether a ticket will come. I’ve been driving 17 years and have never broken a single law.”

    Procrastinate, prevaricate, delay, ask for photographic evidence, ask for the calibration certificates of the camera. Make the whole exercise as expensive for the Police as you possibly can.

    It’s long been commonplace, that speed traps, like in-town parking restrictions, are a revenue generation exercise.

    A ‘clean’ licence doesn’t mean anything, and the points expire after three years. Disclosure: two SP30 & SP50 now expired four years ago.

    I’ve had property stolen, on two occasions, once in full view of a security camera, and the police ‘dutifully’ came around spent half an hour drinking my tea, gave me a crime reference and disappeared. In the case of the latter incident, started to pester me three months later to write the item off his logs. I swear, I got more calls from the police officer trying to shut the unsolved case down, than at any time during the, so called ‘investigation’.

  • CaptDMO

    JadedLibertarian: “I’ve been worrying all week about whether a ticket will come. I’ve been driving 17 years and have never broken a single law.”
    Hey, I know…don’t get caught doing anything “illegal” tomorrow either!
    Mindful of course, that there’s SOMETHING illegal we do, just by getting out of bed every day.
    Phil B: If the Government has lost credibility and legitimacy in the minds of the population, what then?
    Oh, if ONLY someone could get to the King and let him know what’s REALLY going on!
    Or simply understand that “The King” knows full well “what’s going on”.
    The Rotherham Councilors? (and others)
    According to the law? They ARE “the law”, and apparently Their “Law” doesn’t apply as advertised.
    I’ve been led to believe that SOME folks in the UK still celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, for assorted reasons.
    “In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.”, but that’s (ie)French of course.
    Decimation! But that’s (old)Italian of course.
    Prance about in your OWN filth and corruption in complaint. But that’s American of course.
    Kill, enslave, or otherwise “tax” the offensive ones . But that’s (assorted) Muslim of course.
    Political Science (NOT to be confused with Economics)has shown PLENTY of ways to address such issues, WITH consequences of course.
    But nothing changes when folks just sit quietly in the dark, in hopes that “Maybe they’ll just walk by MY house, and take my neighbors instead.”

  • rapscallion

    @CaptDMO
    “Maybe they’ll just walk by MY house, and take my neighbors instead.”

    Shades on Pastor Niemoller there surely!

  • Phil B

    @CaptDMO – Ok, poorly phrased on my part. Allow me to rephrase my statement:

    If the Government has lost credibility and legitimacy in the minds of the population, and enough of the population are angry enough to do something about it (other than stage an ineffective protest march which does naff all good) what then?

    Voting to change the government is like having the same hand of cards (with a couple of Jokers in the hand, just to screw with you) so rearranging the cards won’t change the situation.

    I think Britain is perilously close to some sort of revolution because the government will neither govern nor relinquish their control to someone that will.

    There are a lot more “people” than police, government and their minions than they suspect. If enough people say soddit, what do we have to lose? and go for it, then lamp posts may start to be decorated with unusual dangly things …

  • The last toryboy

    Sounds a bit like Brexit to be honest, negotiated by people clearly utterly unsuited to the task.

    But yes, the public sector disease is to think you are God, and that the law/state is all-powerful. You see it especially with all the attempts to regulate the internet down the years.

  • Paul Marks

    Mark Steyn produced a good article on the background to this case – I have nothing to add to it here (having given my opinion many times). Other than to say that Niall’s post is good and so are many of the comments.

    As for the 18th century – I reject the Blackstone Heresy (Sir William Blackstone’s view that Parliament could make “law” anything it felt like making “law” – for example making having brown eyes punishable by death), root and branch. I take the older view of Chief Justice Sir John Holt and Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke (of the case of Doctor Bonham) that the High Court of the Monarch in Parliament is there to apply the principles of natural justice (Natural Law as understood via the tradition of the Common Law) to the circumstances of time and place – that Parliament can not make 1+1= anything other than 2, and that Parliament can not make peaceful and property respecting conduct a “crime”. However, Edmund Burke would have been shouted down (as Pitt the Elder was shouted down) if he had suggested any limits on the power of Parliament (so firmly had the Blackstone Heresy taken root), so he tried to dodge the issue – by saying (essentially) “you may have the power to do X – but please, please-please-please with sugar on top, do not actually do X”.

    It should be remembered that Parliament ignored the pleas of Edmund Burke – and did X anyway. Hence the American Revolution.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The last toryboy @June 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm:

    …the public sector disease is to think you are God…

    AIUI: The usual knighthood for “distinguished” civil servants is the Order of St. Michael and St. George, and it comes in three grades:

    CMG (“Call Me God”)

    KCMG (“Kindly Call Me God”)

    GCMG (“God Calls Me God”)

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