Notes On The News
By Gwydion. M Williams
Judges in Britain are an independent branch of the state, not independent entities in some transcendent or existential sense. When the chips are down, they know where they belong.
The English judiciary began as a spin-off from royal power, but had definitely established their independence in 1688, when the British gentry chased out their lawful king and established limits on royal power. In the modern world, judges are willing that a particular government should be curbed or punished, but not at the expense of the state machine. Hutton’s whitewash of the government is in line with the judicial norm, which is to support the state and the security services regardless of the rules.
2+2 is generally agreed to be a number in the range 3 to 5. Therefore the assertion 2+2=5, though mistaken, can be deemed to be an honest assessment. That’s the sort of logic they can apply, whenever it happens to suit them
Judges regularly limit the activities of the police, which is advantageous if you’re someone the police dislike. But not if the judges dislike you as well, and dislike you enough to bend the normal rules. That’s ‘checks and balances’, where abstractions take second place to real interests. They sometimes limit government, especially when it upsets the interests of the privileged class to which judges belong (whether or not they were born there). On military-security matters, their interest is to back the establishment and help them get away with stuff that is strictly illegal. Judges hate to disturb tradition, but carefully preserve their right to do so when the alternative is something they hate more
In the case of the Hutton Report, the man did not in fact serve Establishment interests very well. He must have been vain enough to think he could stamp his authority on a judgement which insults common sense. But a majority of Britons feel insulted and unconvinced. A more balanced judgement with some blame for the government would have suited Blair much better.
On the other hand, Blair learned from Reagan and Bush that there is great advantage in going on denying stuff long after a sensible person would admit it. Not all voters are sensible or bother to look at the evidence.
The Butler Committee is a cunning way of defusing the unavoidable demand for an inquiry. It was unavoidable because Little Man Bush had agreed to do one on the US side of the warmongering, an inquiry that will report after Bush’s election but before Blair could feasibly call an election. There can be little doubt that it will ‘buttle’ its way to the desired conclusion, and the Liberal-Democrats were quite right to treat it with scorn.
“Home Secretary David Blunkett says he wants to tackle terror attacks before they happen”, according to the BBC.
Actually the Blunkett proposals are much simpler: find a way to convict suspects whom a normal court would find ‘not guilty’. That’s the long and short of the matter, and it would be amazing if it passed.
Lord Hutton may have unintentionally helped kill the scheme. He’s given a massive public demonstration that judges are part of the state, spun off from the monarchy and theoretically deriving their authority from the throne. Judges will condemn politicians or the police only when they think state interests are not at risk.
If the US can do business with Gaddafi, why couldn’t they have done it with Saddam? Saddam in 1991 was ready to do deals. The USA had been disposing of unwanted allies: Ceaucescu in Romania, Mobutu in Zaire/Congo, Suharto in Indonesia. But such processes are always risky, and the USA might have been better advised to pension off such people. With the Cold War won, the USA was over-confident about its power to reshape the world.
A Western-style system will not work in a society where the West has gone to great trouble to root out the only effective Westernising forces. The USA is now up against the Iraqi Shia demand is for a system that the US cannot fix, which is just why it is being resisted.
Ayatollah Sistani is voicing Shia Arab concerns, and has authority because he has seemed to represent them well. Rival Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr is always there as an alternative if the mainstream policies stop making sense.
There are no technical problems with an early vote. The UN’s own ration-card system, set in place during the years of anti-Saddam sanctions, is better than a lot of electoral registers. Britain’s own system is clearly missing a lot of people, mostly people who dropped out during the struggle over Poll Tax.
It would be a further disgrace if the UN endorses the USA’s attempts to delay elections. The US have been in control of Iraq for nearly a year, and their big problem is that hardly anyone in Iraq likes the people the US has tried to impose. Replacing a secular dictator with religious-based parties looking to an Ayatollah might not play well in the USA, but that’s what democracy means, if you tale it seriously.
The UN is currently ‘investigating’—probably stalling till they can decide whether it’s safe to defy the USA. Meantime, I suggest that the Iraqi Shiites send an electoral commission to Florida, to see if that state is fit to run its own election. The victims of ‘accidents’ were mostly Jewish and not natural friends to Muslims, but might be persuaded to sink differences against a common foe. There were also a lot of black voters who were mysteriously not on the register when they had a clear legal right.
Interesting questions are now being asked about the fatal house-fire which killed a number of young black people back in 1981. But the reports I’ve mentioned seem to favour an accident and pay no attention to the possible significance of the date.
I myself have been wondering ever since I saw graffiti, 18-1-81, which is the date, and also something that would appeal to mad numerologists. Especially those of a neo-Nazi persuasion, who back then had an organisation called Column 88, based on the ‘H’ in Hitler being the 8th letter of the alphabet. And of course ‘Adolph’ is 1, so 18-1-81 might seem very significant to such people, a ‘divine sign’ that it was a suitable date for some major action.
If you are not a criminal, are not an habitual brawler and are not doing some legitimate but high-risk job, then motor vehicles are much your biggest peril. And drunk-drivers the worst threat, but speeding drivers are also bad news, and a speeding driver is the greatest menace to children, since drunks mostly drive late at night.
Speed Cameras have been working. That’s why there have been some noisy protests, with the government unfortunately yielding a little, more than they should.
Most people in rich counties depend on processed food. Food that contains too much sugar, salt and fat, since that makes it sell better. And sweets and snacks are constantly pushed, put at the aisles of supermarket to tempt anyone who has resisted and help children put pressure on harassed parents.
The UN has been making a modest effort to issue healthy warnings. And the US with its powerful sugar interests has been trying to sabotage it. A spokesman for the Overfeeding Industry let slip real thoughts. It is becoming like the regulation of tobacco, which is becoming increasingly effective, actually saving lives and hitting the Tobacco Barons.
The case is always built on ‘freedom’—people must have a strong desire to look like ugly dumplings, so the industry is not at fault. Our modern New Right will not see the connection between spreading stress, hedonism and uncertainty with the spread of illicit substances that deal with stress and give a short cut to hedonism.
By Libertarian or Asocialist logic, if The Individual takes drugs then it must mean that The Individual can safely deal with drugs. Legalise heroin and let units of The Individual handle the matter without any nanny-state interventions. Some Libertarians do believe just this. But the New Right depends on the votes of authentic conservatives, who are gullible but not completely stupid. But addiction to sugar, salt and fat are traditional and can be defended for the while.