We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Who cares about what these old white men think in modern, progressive Scotland?

“Writing in Scottish Legal News today, Quis? – a group of senior retired lawyers who have held high office in Scotland – express concerns over the Crown Office’s behaviour during the Salmond inquiry and call for reform to prevent prosecutors from overstepping their role.”

I would imagine Scottish Legal News is usually rather a staid journal, of interest only to legal professionals and legal journalists. Give ’em the clicks, this is important.

For instance, this is a sinister development:

Contempt of court orders protecting the identity of witnesses and victims of crime were once a relatively unusual feature of our legal landscape. No more. At last count there were more than 400 such orders currently in force in Scotland alone.

and so is this:

When did Crown Office, our state prosecutors, become our state censors?

When did Crown Office get the power to tell anybody to keep their correspondence secret?

Some might reasonably ask if what has been going on has remarkable similarities to English ‘super injunctions’, where you can’t even publicise the fact that the injunction exists, and some might also reasonably ask if this is quite simply ‘bullying’ tactics in order to achieve the Crown Office objective of removal of material which Crown Office asserts is necessary for protecting identities.

That would be a perfectly legitimate objective – if it was right. It will be borne in mind, however, that in a recent high-profile prosecution for such a breach, 50 per cent of the material alleged by the Crown to amount to contempt was found by the court not to be a breach of the court order.

8 comments to Who cares about what these old white men think in modern, progressive Scotland?

  • Paul Marks

    Before “Devolution” Scots Law was, on balance, superior to English (English and Welsh) Law – that is no longer the case.

    Scottish “Devolution” has been a disaster (for Scots Law, for Scottish Education – for everything), but there is odd British thing that “Social Reform” (i.e. ever bigger and more “Progressive” government) is sacred – that mistakes can not be admitted as mistakes and reversed.

    As a “Conservative” academic once said to me – “history has no reverse gear”.

    As I replied at the time – if that is true then no mistake can be reversed and decline and fall is inevitable. If this doctrine is correct then suicide is the logical response.

    Even I am not so gloomy as to believe “history has no reverse gear”.

  • Paul Marks

    A system of law does not need a “legislature” – Scots Law got on quite well without a legislature devoted to it, for centuries.

    The Parliament in Westminster did legislate for Scotland – but sparely, and even then its legislation was normally a mistake. The Parliament in Edinburgh has had no restraint – and has legislated like crazy.

    The existence of an elected “Scottish Government” has also had a horribly perverse effects – with the system of law becoming increasingly a SERVANT of that government. That has had terrible effects in relation to undermining the liberty of the subject.

  • Paul Marks

    One old feature of Scots Law (gone long before 1707) – according to John Dundas (yes I have his work on the law in the pile of the books on the dining table – with George Mackenzie’s work), is that once the titles of nobility were tied to the land – they were not gifts of the king, or even necessarily tied to families.

    So if someone bought an estate they had the “Feudal” title and obligations – the military obligation as well as the noble title that went with that land.

    Up the 1845 contracts to land and other things did not have to be in writing – a formal verbal statement in public before witnesses (with the ritual handing over off earth) was enough.

    1845 also witnessed the spreading of the Poor Law to Scotland – nearly all of Scotland had no Poor Law tax before this time (France was much later still – I think it hit France in the 1890s, but it may have been even later).

    Scots Education went from a local church matter to a national matter in the early 1870s.

    The 1870s witnessed a rise in the power of national governments in many places.

    If I had to pick a year where liberty peaked around the world and then started to go into decline it would be 1869.

    True that is not the case everywhere, for example in the German lands liberty starts to go into decline (the state starts to rise) in the early 1860s – but generally 1869 is about the right date.

  • This situation, evil in itself, is part of the natz centralisation drive – more and more power in fewer and fewer locations and bodies. Since they gained power ten years ago, much power has been stripped from Scottish regions, decentralised bodies, etc., and concentrated in the Edinburgh-based Scottish executive. This is particularly the case with powers that are, well, powerful, power-related. In Stirling, I used to come under Central Scotland police, another force handing Glasgow, another Edinburgh, another the Highlands, etc., as in England. Now we are all under centralised Police Scotland. (I need hardly tel Samizdatans that policing has not improved under this change – but that is a rant for another time, and the difference from England is in some ways only in degree.)

    If I had to guess at the motive for this drive to take power to the Edinburgh executive from the rest of Scotland simultaneous to taking it from the UK government, I would guess that while partly it just reflects the general authoritarian culture of the natz, it also comes from their awareness that their keenest voters are efficiently distributed electorally but not geographically (this became very obvious in the indyref results). There were counties that seceded from Confederate states when those states seceded from the Union, but their geographical divisions were mild and occasional compared to those of Scotland.

  • Sam Duncan

    I would imagine Scottish Legal News is usually rather a staid journal,

    IANAL, but my father was fairly prominent in the profession (a former President of the Law Agents’ Society), and I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it. Which isn’t to make a sort of ad-hominem against the publication, merely to add to Paul’s point that the Scottish legal landscape has changed almost out of all recognition over the last twenty years… and, periphery such as journals aside, largely for the worse.

    My dad used to look at stories from England about things like “super-injunctions” and gazumping, and confidently point out that such nonsense couldn’t happen here. But now it does. Regularly. Under a “government” that ostensibly stands in direct opposition to the “Englishing of Scotland”.

    If I had to guess at the motive for this drive to take power to the Edinburgh executive from the rest of Scotland simultaneous to taking it from the UK government, I would guess that while partly it just reflects the general authoritarian culture of the natz, it also comes from their awareness that their keenest voters are efficiently distributed electorally but not geographically

    They’re nationalists, Niall.

    One of the idiotic pub debates in Scotland over the last few decades has been about whether you feel yourself to be British first and Scottish second, or vice-versa. Which is absurd. I’m equally British, Scottish, Glaswegian and, yes, European. Which of these takes precedence depends on the circumstances. However, the question betrays the nationalist mindset. To a nationalist, you’re always Scottish first, and a Fifer, Highlander, Orkneyan second. Preserving regional identity – and its government – is less important to them than asserting and strengthening the national.

    (At this point, a less tactful person might mention something about “Ein volk…”. But that would be tasteless.)

  • That is a good point, Sam Duncan (April 13, 2021 at 12:10 am).

    I hope you are right – I would rather attribute natz centralisation to the desire to plaster the word Scottish everywhere, to propagandise for a Scotland-wide identity, and to incomprehension of Scottish and British (so also of Scottish and Hebridean), than to a more evilly farsighted precautionary stripping of power from potential centres of dissent.

    (At this point, a less tactful person might mention something about “Ein volk…”. But that would be tasteless.)

    Every now and then, Godwin’s law (like that of Sturgeon’s ‘Crown Office’) is more honoured in the breach.

  • Sam Duncan

    It occurs to me that “One Scotland” was indeed an SNP slogan for a while there.

  • “One Scotland” was indeed an SNP slogan for a while (Sam Duncan, April 14, 2021 at 12:15 pm)

    So was “One Opportunity” an SNP slogan for a while – till they lost the indyref and immediately decided they wanted another.

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