Archive for March 31st, 2010

Return of The UNDEAD….

Curious choice of election slogan… so I re-did it.

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Not Blawg Review… but UKBlawgReview !

Delighted to see a new initiative to promote UK law blogs!.

Do have a look at this excellent round up by Peninsulawyer

“Welcome to the second edition of UKBlawgRoundup.

The theme of the roundup is “new beginnings”. Given the season, you might expect the usual Easter cliches, but instead I have for you a fine crop of newly hatched legal blogging projects from around the UK. The only gambolling lamb is this rather tasty looking Czech sweet pastry one…..”


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A youth army ? Tomorrow belongs to us?

I was alerted to the latest idea from The Laurel & Hardy Institute of Social Policy Studies by @lazyhena – editor and star of GuyNews tv progs. Apparently the Tories want a Youth Army and run busy-bee training camps.

My response was, of course, facile…

But… I am glad to see that Old Holborn, who is standing as a parliamentarty candidate for the Jury Team… is also in such a mood…

And here is that wonderful song from Cabaret!…just to get you in ze mood.

And here are some lyrics…slightly adapted…natch!

Tomorrow belongs to me

The sun on the meadow is summery warm
The stag in the forest runs free
But gathered together to greet the storm
Tomorrow belongs to me

The logo for the Tories is leafy and green
Ashcroft gives his gold to the party
But somewhere a Tory awaits unseen
Tomorrow belongs to me

Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign
Your faithful have waited to see
The election will come
When the world is mine
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me

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Gordon Brown likely to stay as PM in hung parliament

MPs will get 18-day window to form government under emergency plan drawn up by Whitehall


There will be many who relish the prospect of a ‘hung Parliament’ – forcing people to work together. I am not, at this stage, in favour of such a result – partly because I remember the last hung parliament  and partly because I have little faith (or experience)  in politicians from the different parties in Britain being able to work together in the national interest.  I also feel that the country needs to return to being governed.  There is precious little government going on at the moment – there will even even less during the election period – and we are not in great shape.  I am, of course, given that we have not experienced these particular circumstances before  in terms of credit-crunch et al – happy to keep an open mind should there be a hung parliament.  National Governments have worked before – coalitions, tend not to.

The quality of political debate on Newsnight last night with Pickles, Prescott and Huhne shouting over each other was lamentable and..rather worrying. Newsnight is watched by adults – adults who are actually interested in politics.  It is not watched, generally,  by people who are not interested in politics – so it would be helpful if politicians would remember that when they go on Newsnight they are talking to an interested audience who do not need to hear a load of ‘political pap’ and watch grown men and women trying to score points off each other.  Eric Pickles went straight on to twitter to say that he was in a taxi.

@ericpickles:In the silence of the cab going back to the Commons after #Newsnight can still hear @ChrisHuhne & @johnprescott screaming

Hopeless….. I’m not a Tory but I do enjoy listening to Pickles.  Last night was, however, an exception

Civil servants have drawn up contingency plans – which include the Queen’s powers to forestall a second poll if it would not be in the national economic interest.  Interesting reading.  I suspect that more detailed legal analysis will follow in the press and blogs on this issue soon.

In the meantime – The Guardian has an interesting piece.

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Hat Tip to @JackofKent for reminding us of this tweet by Tom Watson MP – ironic.  Before he instructed Carter-Ruck?

Also this tweet by Beau Bo D’Or..he’s right.  Important to get the story right!

Julie Kirkbride MP ( reported by Guido Fawkes as being one of those involved in blocking libel reform…) is a Tory… at least I assume she hasn’t lost the Tory whip since I looked at her website a minute ago.

Associated Press is reporting that “Freedom of speech campaigners accused British lawmakers Tuesday of blocking attempts to reform the country’s notoriously tough libel laws. A committee of House of Commons legislators voted to delay proposed changes to current laws, which would sharply cut fees charged to both defendants and complainants by lawyers representing them in libel cases.”

But opponents — including some lawmakers on a committee scrutinizing the planned legislation — said more consultation, and a full Parliamentary vote, is needed before any changes can be passed.

“The feeling was that the impact would be that lawyers wouldn’t touch difficult cases any more,” said Labour Party legislator Chris Mullin, who voted against immediately passing the laws in a vote of a legislative committee.

Libel reform campaigner Jonathan Heawood, of human rights charity English PEN, said the decision was surprising. “It’s hard to understand why anyone would stand in the way of these reforms on costs,” he said.

Guido Fawkes picked up on this late last night, warning that details were, at that stage, sketchy:

“Details are a little sketchy tonight, but Guido understands that there has been a last minute ambush of Jack Straw’s libel reform bill in the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments.

The ambush was apparently galvanised by Tom Watson, with the support of Chris Mullins, Peter Kilfoyle, Jim Sheridan and Julie Kirkbride.

It seems inexplicable, the reform carries widespread support across all parties. Cynics note that some of last minute opponents had in the past benefitted from Conditional Fee Arrangements (CFAs). Others point to the closeness to former speaker Michael Martin, who opposes the reforms in the Lords. Others note that some of the opponents have themselves been beneficiaries of CFAs . Solicitors Carter-Ruck are lobbying intensely against to keep the no-win-no-fee system. Carter-Ruck won £50,000 for Tom Watson on that basis. Coincidentally.

Guido Fawkes

Not surprisingly, the news provoked reaction on Twitter – most of it surprised. Tom Watson MP came on to twitter to say that he would explain more in due course.

@Tom_Watson: Friends, voting on the Budget until early hours. Promise to give you a detailed reason why the proposed libel reforms were floored tomorrow

It would be rather unfortunate if the reason lawyers won’t touch libel cases anymore is the fact that libel lawyers can charge £1000 per hour (possibly more?)  whereas criminal law barristers are only getting £60 p.h as was suggested on Twitter last night… surely not?  A number of people on Twitter are asking Mr Watson why he blocked the libel reform.  His explanation better be credible, for otherwise, I suspect that he will be subject to a fair bit of comment. Libel reform is an issue which many wish to see followed through.

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