LEAST SAID

It give me no pleasure to kick a man when he’s down, but ‘Randy Andy’s’ exploits have at least performed one valuable service – they have pushed Brexit from the front pages of the news and given us all a much-needed break from  the rough and tumble of the daily political grind.  That said, I suspect it won’t be long before we are fed yet more daily doses of the same, as we try and sort the wheat from the chaff.

Fortunately we have a fair-minded and balanced Media, concentrating as they do on the burning issues and ignoring the trivia.  That said, there is news of Jo Swinston, the ebullient yet vacuous leader of the Liberal Democratic party, outed as a squirrel slayer, both grey and red, firing her catapult at the poor defenceless creatures.  For the record, when the story broke, she denied it, but then, you would wouldn’t you?

For the record, it occurred to me that two of the essential qualifications needed for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats is ebullience and vacuity, and she has them in spades.

And to be even handed, what of Jeremy Corbyn?  Yes indeed, what of Jeremy Corbyn? For those of you who may have dozed off, he is the elected leader of the Labour Party, but by all accounts, no more than a figure-head.  The real power in the Party lies with John Macdonald, the shadow something, and the proud possessor of Chairman Mao’s little red book.  Suggestions vary as to what he should do with it, but it goes to show he’s at the cutting edge of the political debate, albeit not the British political debate.

The Labour Party manifesto is eagerly awaited.  It is in the hands of the ever dependable Dianne Abbott, taking longer than expected as she has yet to master the complexities of joined up writing.

I am not mentioning the Tories, as I felt it was time to give the also-rans their moment in the spotlight before they return to the political wasteland from whence they came.

When it comes to also-rans, I miss Lord Sutch and the Monster Raving Looney Party.  They were fun in a political landscape where fun was in very short supply.  Those were the days of Ted Heath, as dry as a sea biscuit, and Harold Wilson, who elevated political chicanery to new heights.  And to round off  this Fred Karno’s circus, there was the oleaginous Jeremy Thorpe.  That said, there is nothing more to say.

As for Prince Andrew and his ‘advisers’, if he is willing to take advice, and that is not a given, then he should remember the old adage that “least said, soonest mended”.  There may be too many questions that need credible answers, and that is going to take time.  The media circus moves on.  So should he.

INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

I have no reason to believe that Lord Neuberger is anything other than a thoroughly professional and well respected Supreme Court judge.  His many attractors describe him as a man with a keen intellect and a willingness to listen to reasoned argument  even if he doesn’t follow it.

That said, it could be with a eye to his imminent retirement that he chose to enter the political domain and speak out against two of the four estates of our democracy, namely the Government and the Press.  He referred in particular to the Supreme Court’s ruling against the government in the Brexit appeal, and the Media criticism that followed it. I listened to some of the debate, dominated as it was by Lord Sumption’s colourful ties, but I was appalled to hear Lord ‘Don’t’ Pannick describe the Referendum as an irrelevance.  A crass comment and insulting to the many millions who voted and who thought they were making a difference.  At the end of the day, the Court failed to understand that the Referendum was all about the will of the people and not about Parliament.

Methinks this is a man who doth protest too much.  The Media are perfectly at liberty to criticise judges at all levels if they think they’ve got it wrong, and long may they do so.  This does not equate to an attack on the independence of the judiciary, but if Lord Neuberger feels that his detractors should remain silent,  he is overly sensitive.  He was also overly sensitive in criticising Lynn or Liz Truss, the Lady Chancellor, who knows absolutely nothing about the job, for failing to slap down these detractors.  It may be that the tabloid which branded the three High Court Judges as “enemies of the people” went too far, but if you want to be a judge, you have got to learn to roll with the punches.    To suggest therefore that media criticism of the High Court judges after they ruled last year that parliament not the government should trigger the process of leaving the EU “was undermining the rule of law” was wide of the mark and probably better not said.

He also went on to say: “They [politicians] could have been quicker and clearer. But we all learn by experience, whether politicians or judges. It’s easy to be critical after the event.”

Lord Neuberger continued: “If, without good reason, the media or anyone else undermines the judiciary, that risks undermining our society. The press and the media generally have a positive duty to keep an eye on things. But I think with that power comes the degree of responsibility.”  Amen to that.  Judges wield considerable power, and when they get it wrong, as they do from time to time, who is going to correct them?  It’s a self-perpetuating oligarchy, as judges for the most part don’t like admitting their mistakes.

Finally, to try and bring this unseemly debate to a close, his lordship made one telling and unintended remark, and I paraphrase: “With power comes responsibility.”  That responsibility is not confined to the Media or the Press, or Politicians, but extends to the judiciary.

It is not undermining the independence of the judiciary to hold it to account, and if, after mature reflection, it is plain for all to see they’ve got it wrong, it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to put it right.