Tuesday, June 15

Scroungers, Left-Handed Lawyers … Conservatives Dodge Scrutiny by Making Up Enemies | Nick cohen


YNothing coherent can be said without generalizing, so to generalize, the British will lose their right to challenge too powerful and overwhelming a state because they hate foreigners more than they love political responsibility.

The Johnson government knows that as long as it portrays asylum seekers as cheaters arriving in the UK illegally and their lawyers as “left-handed lawyers” activists, misleading the unsuspecting public into allowing marauding aliens to remain on our island, it may end. to scrutiny of their abuses. of power.

Stopping accountability is, after all, its main purpose. Journalists and academics write so much about populists that you can be forgiven for thinking they are complicated men. They couldn’t be simpler. The answer to the question of what populists want is that they want power: to win it, keep it, and ban the opposition.

Boris Johnson’s government dodges all tough problems, from poor social care to declining productivity. Instead, it proposes to put scrutiny of your actions beyond the reach of the courts by restricting judicial review of illegal state decisions.

Ministers will sell secrecy as a defense against today’s canny left-handed lawyers, forgetting to add that judicial review has existed for 400 years. I have a photo of conservative voters cheering on Priti Patel and Johnson as they beat up asylum seekers only to find, too late, that the government has abolished their right to challenge plans to drive a highway through the fields next to their home. or build houses in your green town.

Or even challenge any illegal government decision. With a typically indolent concern for the truth, Attorney General Robert Buckland argued that the government’s review of the courts had encountered a “disturbing” trend of judges moving beyond their legitimate sphere. In truth, the review panel, chaired by former Conservative Minister Lord Faulks no less, found no “general trend that could be drawn” and recommended only minor changes. Buckland vowed to abide by the law when he took office and later approved Johnson’s plan to violate international law during the Brexit crisis. You can’t expect anything better from him.

The rejection of independent advice, however, is as characteristic of the populist when the will to power is upon him as the disregard for the truth. Sir Alex Allan, Johnson’s ethics advisor, resigned after finding evidence that Patel intimidated public officials and Johnson chose to uphold her instead of basic standards. Johnson ignored warnings of doctors and epidemiologists on the dangers of releasing the lockdown too soon and condemning thousands to unnecessary deaths. When an appointment panel declined to name Paul Dacre president of Ofcom, because a former editor of the Mail It was unlikely that he would defend impartial broadcasting, Johnson would not accept his decision. He created a new interview panel and told him to try again. Last week, it was another independent advisor, Sir Kevan Collins. He resigned because his recommendations to save the education of students with Covid problems were superseded by Rishi Sunak’s “half-hearted approach [that] it runs the risk of failing hundreds of thousands ”.

Populism wants a good press instead of good government. Johnson will calculate that hurting students will not hurt the Conservative Party, whose support is dominated by retirees without school-age children. You can count on the right-wing press and the knee-jerk beliefs of conservative voters to argue that asylum seekers are criminals because they arrived illegally and forget how difficult it is for genuine victims of persecution to travel legally to Britain.

For all that, I still don’t see how anyone other than sociopaths can look at the judicial review of conditions at Napier Barracks on the Kent coast by the High Court last week and conclude that the ministers can be left. rule in the dark safely.

The Interior Ministry sent 414 asylum seekers, who had not committed any crime, to the abandoned camp. He left them in cramped, stuffy dormitories instead of staying in hotels that the pandemic had emptied. Decent accommodation could have produced headlines about freeloaders living in luxury and that would never work. There was a “very clear direction to eliminate the use of hotels for contingency accommodation,” said Mr. Judge Linden while saying indicated the political imperative to keep tabloids happy. “Interior Ministry personnel were rarely present, leading to dangerous deficiencies.”

Although they were not intended to be prisoners, the men were locked in a field surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by security guards. There was a serious fire, the site was littered with plywood and asbestos, while an inevitable Covid outbreak caused the fall of nearly 200 inmates and staff.

Johnson wants to prevent judges from examining such horrors for many reasons. He does not want to pay compensation to the victims, as the judge’s decision that the detention at Napier’s barracks was illegal may compel him to do so. He does not want to allow the courts or anyone else to force ministers and public officials to work hard and do their duty. And he’s very keen on keeping the conservative voting public in a politically useful state of ignorance.

But, as is often the case, the simplest explanation is the best. As a triumphant leader with an unassailable majority and a divided opposition, Johnson does not believe that anyone should hold him accountable.

The Napier Barracks is named after Sir Charles Napier (1782-1853). He was a hero of the Napoleonic wars, whose horse was shot twice below him in the Peninsula campaign. He was also a surprisingly liberal general by 19th century standards. In the late 1830s, he commanded 6,000 soldiers in northern England with orders to crush the Chartist movement. Yet far from viewing the campaign to democratize Britain as a threat, Napier sympathized with the Chartist demand for one man, one vote and condemned the poverty endured by the new working class. If there were problems, he said: “Tory injustice and whig imbecility”They were its root causes. More change.

In everything he does, from trying to silence the courts to manipulating broadcast regulation, Johnson shows that he wants to hide the facts and escape the consequences of his own injustice and foolishness.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for Observer


www.theguardian.com

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