Archive for March 4th, 2010

Politics just gets better everyday…although I am beginning to wonder if the Rioja I drink is making me hallucinate when I read the newspapers and that the stories I read aren’t actually real.  The latest ‘Alice and Wonderland’ fable comes from The Independent

Tories cleared over Ashcroft donations

An Electoral Commission report today cleared the Conservative Party and its deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft of breaching electoral law in relation to £5.1 million of donations from Bearwood Corporate Services.

The Commission rejected allegations that Bearwood – which is controlled by Ashcroft – was not carrying on business in the UK and was therefore ineligible to donate money to political parties.

However, the Commission has asked to meet Conservative officials to ensure that they are clear about their responsibilities for complying with the law.

It transpires, however, that the Electoral Commission has no power to compel people to attend for questioning…so some Tories decided they would decline the invitation to tell the Electoral Commission what had been going on.  It would appear, therefore, that the Electoral Commission cleared the Tories on incomplete evidence… how wonderfully BRITISH!… Yes Minister has nothing on what is going on in 2010!

The Independent notes…. “Today’s report said there was “no basis to conclude” that the donor was anyone other than Bearwood. And it said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that the party was uncertain as to the identity of the donor when accepting the donations”. But it revealed that a number of Conservative officers and staff declined to be interviewed on the issue. The Commission has no power to force people to attend interviews.”

And the report said: “The Commission asked various officers and staff within the party to attend interviews on a voluntary basis, but these requests were not agreed to.”

A Conservative spokesman said the party has “a clean bill of health”.

Next!  There is bound to be something surreal to report on tomorrow from those in power and those who seek power..over us.

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Harman calls for Tory heads to roll over Ashcroft tax row

The Times reports: “The Ashcroft non-dom tax saga exploded on the floor of the House of Commons today as Harriet Harman called for Tory heads to roll. The Leader of the House, deputising for Gordon Brown at Prime Minister’s Questions, said William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, had “not a shred of credibility” on the issue. During a stormy 30-minute session, Ms Harman said the country had been misled into believing that the Tory peer was paying full tax in Britain.”

I watched PMQs yesterday.  It was like watching Dr Who as a child…I would have been better hiding behind the sofa. Hague may well have a few questions to answer about the Ashcroft affair but he is a better orator.  Meanwhile, Unite boss Jack Dromey, Harman’s house husband  is taking time out from bringing British Airways to its knees and is being parachuted in to a safe seat.  Apparently he achieved this remarkable feat by winning on an all wimmin shortlist according to Hague….. but it may be that I was hallucinating and dreamed this up while taking some restorative Rioja. I have very little sympathy for the proposed British Airways strike but if Mr Dromey and his cabin crew cohorts want to wreck British Airways and bring British Airways down even further in these hard times they will… but BA supremo Willie Walsh is fighting back with some corporate Viagra to stiffen his resolve if Unite harden their position.

William Hague hid Lord Ashcroft’s tax status for months

The Guardian reports: Former leader’s disclosure reveals peer kept financial affairs secret from senior Conservatives for a decade.

Time to shoehorn a bit of law in… I shall do it gently with this wonderful piece from our American friends…

Are You a Member of the Gen-Y ‘Slackoisie’? Find Out Here

The Wall Street Journal blog reports: “A word’s inclusion in the Urban Dictionary isn’t exactly the same as it being added to the OED. Anyone, it seems, can add pretty much any word to the UD at any time. Exclusive it ain’t.

Still, the UD goes where others don’t dare go. And along the way picks up some funny, if not g-rated or politically correct, definitions.

But the one to which we’ll introduce you today has nothing to do with drugs, sex, or rock & roll. It’s funny, though, and will probably strike many out there as either spot-on or downright offensive. It goes like this:


Prounounced “Slack-wah-zee”. This term was coined by J. Daniel Hull, Esq., author of the “What About Clients?” blawg (Pictured right …looking relaxed – CQC), and popularized by Scott H. Greenfield, Esq., author of the “Simple Justice” blawg. It refers to:

(1) a class of narcissistic young professionals, particularly attorneys (usually Gen Y/millennials), who believe that having a job is an entitlement, rather than a privilege. They often complain about the work they have (if working), opine the lack of “real lawyer” jobs available in the market, and are critical of the long hours and inadequate pay found at most small firms. They believe they are entitled to work/life balance, that their opinions on any subject are inherently important and that whatever benefits they enjoy are inadequate. The Slackoisie are more interested in having a place to go in the morning and some spending money than committing themselves to their clients and the profession; or

(2) a slacker with an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement.

I like this word… I’ve come across a few of this breed in my time in the law over here…. gawd bless ’em… some of them live in West London, the land of milk and honey where they know how to pronounce ‘grande latte’ and do so with imperious style at various coffee filling stations on Chiswick High Street while they try to make the best of house price values in a country heading towards a double dip recession.  It may be time for me to resurrect my ‘West London Man’ parody series.

On that issue… Guido Fawkes has an interesting observation this morning about Britain’s debt (less safe than Chile even after the Earthquake) and it would appear that our American friends (taking a break from sitting on the fence on the Falkland’s issue) now bracket our economy with that of Greece and are saying that we are the next basket case.

Guido notes: Chile has just had an 8.8 on the richter scale earthquake, looting and rioting are commonplace.  Even so, U.S. investors still prefer Chilean government debt to UK government debt as measured by CDS rates. Do you get how bad things are?”

Jack Straw refuses to reveal why Bulger killer has returned to jail

The Times reports: “Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, was under pressure last night to lift the veil of secrecy over the decision to return one of James Bulger’s killers to custody for breaking the terms of his parole……..Mr Straw insisted that it was not in the public interest to disclose the reason for the recall, but he was contradicted by Mr Johnson, who said: “I believe the public do have a right to know and I believe they will know all the facts in due course but I must in no way prejudice the future criminal justice proceedings.”His comment was later clarified by the Ministry of Justice, which said that Mr Johnson had been referring to a review by the Parole Board of the decision to recall Venables. The ministry said: “The Home Secretary was talking in general terms about criminal justice proceedings. He is referring to forthcoming proceedings by the Parole Board.”

Jack Straw has been very busy recently.  It appears that he may not be too keen on the appointment of Lord Justice Wall as President of the Family Division…

Top family law post vacant after challenge to government critic

Jack Straw has challenged the appointment of a new head of the family justice system who castigated the Government over its policies, including opening family courts, The Times has learnt.

An appointments panel staffed by senior judges put forward Sir Nicholas Wall to fill the post of President of the Family Division, but only one month before the post is vacated no announcement has been made. Mr Straw, the Justice Secretary, is understood to have exercised his right under the new appointments system to ask the panel to reconsider.

One senior judge said: “It is an appalling state of affairs, not to know who is taking over.” Another said: “An appointment like this is usually announced several months ahead. There is no explanation as to what is going on.”

The Times noted…. wrly?….“but the belief in legal circles is that Lord Justice Wall’s comments in a lecture last November will not have helped his cause. He told the Association of Lawyers for Children that it was the duty of judges to speak out over changes that were damaging the service to children and families.”

I have little interest in Family Law, but John Bolch of Family Lore and Pink Tape will, no doubt, be commenting on this?

Prison service ‘cannot cope with indefinite sentences’

The Independent reports: “Controversial open-ended prison sentences introduced to protect the public may have to be scrapped after inspectors warned that their cost to the penal system outweighed any benefits.Just 75 of almost 6,000 convicts held under the indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) have won their liberty since the measure was brought in by Labour four years ago.The result, said Chief Inspector of Probation, Andrew Bridges, and the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, is that prisons have become swamped with inmates whom the probation service did not have the resources to deal with. They warned that the situation has become “unsustainable” and called on ministers to begin a major review of the policy.”

A quick look at what the law bloggers are up to….

Obiter J reviews the thorny issue of… Mobile phones and driving: just what is “using”

and begins his analysis with …”Regrettably, a lot of legislation is not always entirely straightforward to interpret (or “construe”).  The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 Rule 110 seems to give rise to such problems.  Reg. 110(1) states – “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using (a) a hand-held mobile telephone; or (b)…”

The Fat Bigot…says…Goodbye Michael Foot

So, Michael Foot is no more, gone at the age of 96. Proof that the old saying “the good die young” gives only half the story. Reports of his death contain gushing tributes to a “man of principle” who was “true to his beliefs” and a “magnificent orator”. I can’t read stuff like that without wanting to bring up my dinner. Nick Griffin is a man of principle, David Koresh was true to his beliefs and Mussolini was great at stirring up a crowd, yet they are or were despicable pieces of filth who deserve nothing but condemnation for the dire effects of their principles, beliefs and oratory on other people….”
The Stilettoed Socialist has a fulsome tribute…“The Labour Party, today, has lost a true hero. Michael Foot was a parliamentarian held in Gordon Brown, Tony Benn and a fitting tribute was made in the House of Commons by Jack Straw after a frankly embarrassing Prime Ministers Questions, the depressing nature of which was put into sharp focus by the news of Foot’s passing. But more on that in a moment. the highest regard. One of the most outstanding orators this country has ever known and a man who defined the notion of principled politics. Tributes have been pouring in today, from Foot was the mind of the Labour Party. A remarkably intelligent writer who went from Fleet Street to Westminster with the same principles and values underpinning all his endeavours, values which were unashamedly, unapologetically socialist. Without a doubt Foot was a visionary politician, to some extent an idealist, but was one who admired, if not idolised perhaps the greatest pragmatist British Politics has ever known.”

For my part – Michael Foot was a superb orator, an intelligent and thoughtful radical and probably the worst (in terms of effectiveness) leader of the Labour Party… but one of the best in terms of principle. His manifesto may have been described as the longest suicide note in history… but he did bring to politics a sense of fairness and critical thinking which is not always to the forefront of modern political agendas.

Finally…Bystander JP of the Magistrate’s blog asks…

How Would You Deal With This?

Two middle-aged men are side by side in the dock. Each has a care worker with him as both have learning difficulties. They have committed sexual offences against girls of 12 (I have to be careful here, but suffice it to say that no physical contact was involved, but rather crude and inapproriate sexual talk) that has obviously caused great fear and upset to the young victims. The defendants are quickly identified, and brought to court.

They are charged under Section 12(1)a and other sections of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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