Carswell tries to blame others for mistakes


by Rumbold
31st August, 2008 at 3:46 pm    

Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Harwich and Clacton and Conservative Home favourite, has written an article calling for judicial appointments “more democratically accountable.” This should sound alarm bells for anyone who thinks that the Conservatives are going to be significantly different from New Labour. The hallmark of New Labour has long been its hatred of independent institutions, because they represent alternative sources of power and respect.

Most political theorists argue that for a stable society democracy alone isn’t enough (see Pakistan in the 1990s), and that strong institutions, like the judiciary, are needed to keep elected governments operating within the law. Mr. Carswell and the other Conservosocialists don’t like this system, because it restricts their absolute power. For them, the description of Parliament as an “elective dictatorship” wasn’t a warning, but a promise. When politicians talk about making institutions “democratically accountable”, what this really mean is subordinate to MPs. Mr. Carswell in his article tries to drum up support with the cry of “liberal judges”:

“The Times has an interesting article about the Court of Appeal finding that judges give out “unduly lenient” sentences. Apparently some judges have been rather soft on some pretty nasty criminals.

This raises the question who should be judging the judges?”

Er… you do Mr. Carswell. A judge can be removed by Parliament if it is felt that the judge is utterly incompetent or clinically insane. However, there is a more important point to make, and that is that judges can only make sentences based on the laws passed by Mr. Carswell and his friends in Parliament. If MPs and ministers think that judges are giving lenient sentences, then they should change the law. Increasingly, politicians attack judges in order to distract from their legislative failings. John Reid (when Home Secretary) once attacked a judge for giving a sex offender a sentence he considered “soft”. It soon emerged that this was the maximum sentence available for this particular offence.

Though they sometime make irritating decisions, we must never forget that judges are the whipping boys for populist politicians.


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  1. Not As Stupid As Some — on 31st August, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

    The hallmark of New Labour has long been its hatred of independent institutions, because they represent alternative sources of power and respect.

    Glad you explained that, because I was wondering what the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Mayor of London were about.

    Numpty.

  2. Sunny — on 31st August, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

    The hallmark of New Labour has long been its hatred of independent institutions, because they represent alternative sources of power and respect.

    Erm, yeah, like making the Bank of England independent.

    In fact, while New Labour at least has been thwarted by judges on human rights issues, the people who complain most about it are the Conservatives. At first opportunity they’ll try and take away judicial power – especially on immigration issues.

    Nice try though :)

  3. Rumbold — on 31st August, 2008 at 6:08 pm  

    Not As Stupid As Some:

    “Glad you explained that, because I was wondering what the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Mayor of London were about.

    Numpty.”

    Those aren’t independent institutions dear boy. They are simply regional branches of the political class’ private members’ club.

    Sunny:

    “Erm, yeah, like making the Bank of England independent.”

    The Bank of England isn’t really independent. It is controlled by the bogus inflation target, and is only nominally independent so there is someone else to blame.

    “In fact, while New Labour at least has been thwarted by judges on human rights issues, the people who complain most about it are the Conservatives. At first opportunity they’ll try and take away judicial power – especially on immigration issues.”

    That’s what I said.

  4. Don — on 31st August, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

    Damn, Rumbold has started calling people ‘dear boy’.

    Step away from the edge, man…

  5. Rumbold — on 31st August, 2008 at 6:30 pm  

    Ha ha.

  6. David — on 31st August, 2008 at 7:44 pm  

    “Conservosocialists”

    Stop forcing your abhorrent ideology on us. I know your an anarcho-capitalist, but using the above term leads me to believe that you have joined a cult.

  7. Amrit — on 31st August, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

    Is it about time that I get on down to a print shop to get me a ‘Save Our Judiciary’ T-shirt made?

    Crikey Rumb, I’m surprised at a Tory voter such as yourself taking on the Tories at last.

    ‘Though they sometime make irritating decisions, we must never forget that judges are the whipping boys for populist politicians.’

    So true, and for the populist press, especially over things like privacy law. I like how he says ‘more democratically accountable, (i.e. answerable to Da Peeps, as I comprehend it)’ but if judges really WERE more democratically accountable, then MPs would have to be too and we can’t be having that! It would result in more of that openness-an’-transparency shit they’re so not keen on.

  8. Rumbold — on 31st August, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

    David:

    “Stop forcing your abhorrent ideology on us. I know your an anarcho-capitalist, but using the above term leads me to believe that you have joined a cult.”

    Given that the Conservatives are now socialists in tweed, I think that the term Conservosocialist is applicable. What sort of cult do you think I have joined? A radical sect with John Redwood as high priest, in which we burn a giant wicker man filled with EU regulations?

    Amrit:

    Sometimes one has to vote Tory, when the other options are so bad.

    “Then MPs would have to be too and we can’t be having that! It would result in more of that openness-an’-transparency shit they’re so not keen on.”

    Agreed. The turkeys will never vote for Christmas.

  9. David — on 31st August, 2008 at 9:18 pm  

    “What sort of cult do you think I have joined? A radical sect with John Redwood as high priest, in which we burn a giant wicker man filled with EU regulations?”

    The Devil’s Kitchen cult?

    Can’t you join those Branch Davidians types? They’re more fun than the anarcho-capitalists.

  10. David — on 31st August, 2008 at 9:27 pm  

    I would like to add that I am in agreement with you regarding this post.

  11. Piggy — on 31st August, 2008 at 11:04 pm  

    Who’s for a bit of contrast and compare?

    Rumbold today:

    “However, there is a more important point to make, and that is that judges can only make sentences based on the laws passed by Mr. Carswell and his friends in Parliament”

    Rumbold last month:

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/2117#comments (#31)

    “It never matters what the law says”

    Also, just so you know, using terms like “Conservosocialists” really does make you look a bit wingnuttish.

  12. Roger — on 1st September, 2008 at 6:46 am  

    What is the difference betwen a conservosocialist and an anarcho-capitalist?
    Which word is uglier and more meaningless?

  13. Rumbold — on 1st September, 2008 at 9:51 am  

    David:

    “Can’t you join those Branch Davidians types? They’re more fun than the anarcho-capitalists.”

    Heh.

    Piggy:

    If you read the comment from which the quote is taken, then my point was that it is more instructive to look at how the law is enforced, rather than what it says.

    To quote myself:

    “It never matters what the law says, it is how things are enforced which really matter.”

    Incidentally, if you want to link to a specific comment, just click on the blue time and then copy and past the link.

  14. Piggy — on 1st September, 2008 at 9:21 pm  

    “Incidentally, if you want to link to a specific comment, just click on the blue time and then copy and past the link.”

    Cheers, someday I’ll even get round to putting my quotes into proper block quotes

    “To quote myself:

    “It never matters what the law says, it is how things are enforced which really matter.””

    Which, if you read upwards was a response to me pointing out that the maximum legal sentence for a ‘vicious assault’ is higher than for council tax evasion. You were having a whinge because you thought independent judges were applying the law in a way that punished council tax evaders/smokers/fat people more harshly than violent thugs (specifically Joey Barton).

    At that point you had the judiciary as more or less card carrying members of the nasty bad political class. Now you’ve got your gripe on about these ‘Conservosocialists’, when one of them has a moan about judges, the judiciary becomes the valiant defender of the Ordinary Folk in the fight against Teh Evul Politcals.

    Is it just possible that your conception of the Political Class is basically anyone who does things you don’t like?

  15. Rumbold — on 2nd September, 2008 at 10:34 am  

    Piggy:

    My criticism was of how state officials were acting, although it is true that I did also criticise the judge in the Joey Barton case. But then I am not the one who makes the laws in the first place, so it is hardly hypocritical (unlike Mr. Carswell).

    Judges do make some strange decisions sometimes. But the response to that from politicians should be to make better and clearer laws, not attack them for working within the guidlines given to them.

  16. Amrit — on 3rd September, 2008 at 12:38 am  

    Rumb:

    ‘Amrit:

    Sometimes one has to vote Tory, when the other options are so bad.

    “Then MPs would have to be too and we can’t be having that! It would result in more of that openness-an’-transparency shit they’re so not keen on.”

    Agreed. The turkeys will never vote for Christmas.’

    Please. I’d rather vote Green or Lib Dem than Tory! I’d like to think it’ll never be THAT bad, y’know-what-I-mean? ;-P

    Be seeing you.

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