Archive for June, 2010


Zappa ‘Slowhand’ Charon: OK…Nick…. Take it away….coooooooool and easy……… go buddy…..

Clegg: We have formed a new band

More importantly than anything else, we have formed a new kind of boy band

I hope this is the start of a new kind of band I have always believed in.

Diverse, plural, where good looking young hot guys with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good entertainment  the whole country deserves.

That was what we were asked to do by the people of Britain in the Final of Britain’s Got Talent and that is what we will deliver.

I want to thank David for the very open, constructive and workmanlike way in which we have come together to make this happen and how we can make music  together in this coalition band.

We are obviously good looking hot guys from different parties

I believe we are now united in seeking to meet the immense challenges that now face the country and to deliver a fairer, better entertainment for  Britain.

Of course there will be problems along the way; of course there will be glitches.  Simon Hughes….sorry… Simon  Cowell may desert us….. we might not get a record deal, or, indeed, anything out of any value in time for Christmas.

But I will always do my best to prove that new music isn’t just possible – it is also better than watching a dancing dog with leprosy on the make to get your votes…

I’d like to say something directly to the nearly seven million people who supported my last band The Liberal Democrats in the run up to the Final last week……  hahaha… you took it hook line and sinker… and now I am Deputy Prime Minister in the biggest Boy Band in the Britain….

I am now acutely aware that I carry your hopes and aspirations and that Beaker and Vince will always be backing singers

I am sure you have many questions, maybe many doubts.

But I can assure you I would not have joined this Boy Band unless I was genuinely convinced it was a unique opportunity to deliver the changes you and I believe that I fully deserve…

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Supreme court quashes troops’ human rights ruling

The Independent: The Supreme Court quashed a landmark ruling that British soldiers serving abroad are protected by human rights laws at all times. Six of the nine justices who heard the case in March at the Supreme Court overturned High Court and Court of Appeal judgments over the death of Private Jason Smith in Iraq while serving with the Territorial Army. The court was asked to rule on whether a British soldier on military service in Iraq is subject to UK jurisdiction and covered by human rights laws not only when on a British military base or hospital.

R (Smith) v Secretary of State for Defence & Anor [2010] UKSC 29

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal on the jurisdiction issue (Lady Hale, Lord Mance and Lord Kerr dissenting) and unanimously dismissed the appeal on the inquest issue. It held that it was not necessary in every case of a death of a serviceman abroad to carry out an investigation which examined whether there was fault on the part of the state because (a) the Human Rights Act 1998 did not apply to armed forces on foreign soil and (b) in any event, there was no such automatic right. The type of investigation would depend on the circumstances of the case.

The jurisdiction issue
Lord Phillips stated that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had held that ‘jurisdiction’ within the meaning of article 1 was essentially territorial but extended in exceptional circumstances requiring special justification to other bases of jurisdiction. The difficulty lay in defining those exceptions [para 11].    It was unlikely that the Contracting States, when they agreed the ECHR in 1951 in the aftermath of a global conflict in which millions of troops had been deployed, regarded it as desirable or practicable to extend the protection of article 2 to troop operations abroad [para 58]. It was a novel suggestion that a state’s armed forces by reason of their personal status fell within the jurisdiction of the state when on foreign soil and the proper tribunal to resolve the issue was the Strasbourg Court itself [para 60]. Lord Mance, dissenting, considered that as an occupying power in Iraq, the UK had under international law an almost absolute power over the safety of its forces.

The inquest issue
Lord Phillips stated that where there was reason to suspect a substantive breach by the state of the article 2 right to life, it was established that the state of its own motion should carry out an investigation into the death which had certain features: a sufficient element of public scrutiny, conducted by an independent tribunal, involving the relatives of the deceased and which was prompt and effective [para 64].    There was no automatic right to such an investigation whenever a member of the armed forces died on active service [para 84]….

James Eadie QC, representing the Ministry of Defence, had told the March hearing it would never be possible to guarantee rights under the European Convention to soldiers on duty wherever they are in the world.

“Effective and faithful application of the Convention means that not only must the State have exclusive legal and physical control over persons who benefit from it but also legal and physical control over both the area of its application and over those other persons within that area

Per Lord Collins, jurisdiction could not be established simply on the basis of the UK’s authority and control, nor where there policy grounds for extending the scope of the ECHR to armed forces, which would involve the court in issues relating to the conduct of armed hostilities which were essentially non-justiciable.

The decision is bound to attract a degree of comment.  A key difficulty identified is the practical difficulty that application of the HRA to warfare situations would be the restrictive effect it may have on decisions of field commanders on the ground.

Boris Johnson wins court order to evict Parliament Square protesters

Guardian: London mayor’s move welcomed by Westminster council as end to ‘hijacking of one of London’s historic public spaces’

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, today won a high court order evicting protesters who have turned Parliament Square into a makeshift encampment.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams said the mayor had “directed himself correctly, considered all the relevant matters and reached a reasoned decision which cannot be criticised”.

Importantly, the judgment does not affect  the activist Brian Haw, who has been protesting on the pavement by the square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, for the past nine years. Haw first set up camp in June 2001 in a one-man protest against war and foreign policy – initially the sanctions against Iraq.

When I popped over to have a look a couple of weeks ago, I noted the absence of a Police presence but did see a lot of people drinking heavily, not doing a huge amount of protesting or, indeed, anything at all and could not really see much point to what those people were doing.  But there we are.   The decision may well attract negative comment from many.  I shall not be joining the negative comment – because it is clear from the decision that rights to protest are being maintained. Indeed, May Johnson has stated that it returns Parliament Square not only to people who wish to view Parliament but also to those who wish to protest. However, The Guardian noted, the Green party GLA member Jenny Jones said it was “a bad day for democracy in London”.  I’m not so sure I see this decision in quite that light.  If people wish to protest, they will do so.    We shall see what transpires.

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Cabinet to go on the road!

With the costs reputed to have been £100,000 a time when Brown took his Cabinet on the road, it was surprising to read in The Independent today that Cameron plans to do the same.  The Coalition government is always asking members of BIG SOCIETY for ideas on cost savings.  Here is one – if they are hell bent on  carrying out this nonsense – after all, how many Brummies, Mancunians and Liverpudlians are going to meet the Cabinet…or, indeed, would wish to?

My suggestion:  use a secure Prison Van – spacious, room for the entire Cabinet and secure.  We have quite a few of them already in this country so no need for further capital expenditure.  I accept that the windows will have to be changed from Black to clear glass so that we can see our Cabinet at work and wave to them.  They can also see what ordinary people look like and wave at us.

I may have to award myself another OBE for this idea.

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Baroness Hale: Human Rights Act hampered by constitutional problems

Guardian: UK’s most senior female judge laments lack of time spent applying essence of the Act

Baroness Hale has made an insightful speech criticising the time spent on constitutional wrangling rather than on the essence of the Act. The Guardian notes: “Lady Hale suggested that the tension between the Government and the courts arising from such cases is preventing judges from doing their job”

It seems a shame that an Act, which appeared to be so clearly drafted and was trying to do such an important but radical thing, has given rise to so many difficult constitutional issues on which we have had to spend so much of our time. Maybe the previous mind-set of the practitioners and the courts is more to blame than Parliament and the Parliamentary draftsmen.

Tan Tench, Olswang,  provides a very good analysis of Hale’s speech. I can thoroughly recommend the UKSC | Blog as a first port of call on matters relating o The Supreme Court and the usual high standard is applied in this summary.

Dan Tench writes: “In her conclusion, Lady Hale regrets that the Act “has given rise to so many difficult constitutional issues”, although that was perhaps inevitable.  It is pretty clear that she would like the courts to take a bolder line, being prepared where necessary to intervene more and get ahead of the Strasbourg line and simply introduce words into statutes to provide compatibility with the Convention.  These would certainly be steps in a radical direction.”

UK bill of rights plan a ‘bad idea’, warns head of European court

Guardian: Senior judge’s remarks that human rights could be hit if act repealed threatens to inflame row over power of Strasbourg.

Plans to create a British bill of rights have been strongly criticised by one of Europe’s most senior judges, in a stance which could create further conflict between the government and the European court of human rights.

Jean-Paul Costa, the president of the court, has said that repealing the current human rights act would be a “bad idea” and could jeopardise the protection given by the European convention on human rights.

“The project of returning the court to British rule is a bad idea,” he said, in an interview with the Guardian. “The human rights act has made a big difference to the protection of rights in the UK. People have started to be acquainted with the European convention on human rights.”

After the second world war there was a clear need to re-build and prevent further European conflict.  There can be no doubt that the creation of the European Union has achieved much – but it is equally clear, with the growth of the Union, the different pace of the economies, the problems of the Eurozone and Greece in particular that the road to a European super state has been stalled.  The European Convention on Human Rights was largely a creature of British design.

The President of the European court is in danger not only of venturing into areas which should be no concern of the court or the judiciary, but of committing the sin of legal hubris. Lord Hoffmann, a former law lord,  said. “It considers itself the equivalent of the supreme court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe.” Hoffman added that is also guilty of self aggrandisement.
It also appears that the court is astonishingly inefficient. Justice delayed is justice denied.  The Guardian notes: “A number of senior UK judges have voiced strong criticisms of the court, which currently has a backlog of around 120,000 cases – a workload which it is estimated would take at least three years to clear even if no new cases were brought.”

It might be a good idea for Judge Costa to concentrate on his own back yard before he irritates judges, practitioners and commentators in this country further. His remarks and thinking  on British plans do not seem to have been fully worked out.  Perhaps this is a result of the astonishing backlog of cases?   And what is the cause of the backlog?  I shall have to look further into that.  I assume someone at the ECHR will be prepared to tell me if I telephone and ask politely?  I suspect that Judge Costa will be a bit busy preparing his 120,000 judgments or procrastinating with further thoughts on British plans.  As the man says, the European Convention gives protection but with a backlog of 120,000 cases, taking three years to clear, it isn’t doing a particularly good job of actually delivering protection.  Perhaps I need some alka seltzer – too much acid in the system this morning.  Breakfast calls.

While I appreciate the history and the drafting of the relevant law – I am beginning to wonder why we even need a European Court of Human Rights. On the not unreasonable assumption, these days, that all European nations are civilised – why can’t national supreme courts deal with human rights issues in relation to Britain?.  If we suddenly find that our Supreme Court runs amok and starts implementing government policy and ignoring the law – which is unlikely – why can’t our Supreme Court deal with all ECHR matters for UK and the same principle for all the other signatories?

European Union Law is, of course, an entirely different basket case.

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Dear Reader,

It occurs to me, being a Scot, that Rabbie Burns’ famous poem To a Mouse would be appropriate to celebrate the panache, style, elan and passion demonstrated by the Ingerland team as they disappointed, yet again, a nation of optimists.  The English translation follows…

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.

[Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.]

The good news is that all the hyperventilation and hyperbole about ‘OUR BOYS’ will die down.  I have enjoyed the World Cup – the tweets, the hubris….. the schadenfreude  (Particularly the Schadenfreude – a rather good German word)  It’s just a pity that Ingerland aren’t very good at playing football as a team.  When the German goal keeper kicked the ball up field and a German player ran after it, unchallenged in any meaningful way by defenders,  and kicked it into the Ingerland goal, I marvelled. It just got more and more surreal after that. Someone on Twitter said that a Labour MP blamed the Coalition CUTS for the lack in the English defence.

I do feel sorry for the fans – especially those who spent a lot of money getting out to South Africa.  I think there should be a class action to sue the English FA for misrepresentation, deception, passing off and, indeed, badly and perhaps we could even chuck in a bit of nervous shock mixed with  Rylands v Fletcher.  Some of those German players who escaped were pretty dangerous.   That would be new law, but good law!

I even put my Admiral avatar on for the occasion.  I end my coverage of this lamentable World Cup with this…

Back to law tomorrow……

Not all bad though.  England Cricket Team beat Australia in the One Day International and win the series 3-0.  Perhaps The Ashes in Australia is a realistic proposition?

Best, as always


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WIN or LOSE in tomorrow’s Ingerland v Germany game… we can always look on the Bright Side of Life. I know nothing about Football but Twitter, this year, has been brilliant – with plenty of gallows humour about England – so much so that I have been watching all the England games.   It was great to see Ghana win tonight. I was born in Ghana and I have known some very amusing Ghanaians in my time. Great stuff.

I was particularly pleased when I put up a Tweet about the England v Germany match and cited the GREAT ESCAPE theme tune, modified the famous line in the film… “Give up your hopeless attempt to escape.”  (and wondered what marvellous nonsense our Tabloids would come up with for tomorrow’s front pages) .. to see that FIFA responded to my Tweet!   One would have thought they had more important matters to do than monitor Twitter – but, hey, I am NOT complaining. I’m now getting into the football

I am also delighted that Clegg and Cameron took time out of their busy schedules to make a cameo appearance at Glastonbury – GO WEST!!! which, I understand from friends on twitter, was covered by BBC Glasto.

And I had a wonderful and surreal exchange with Tom Watson MP on twitter. Saturday night nonsense… no more than that…. but amusing nevertheless.  It started when I Re-Tweeted a poll result  about the standing of the parties in the polls.  This was then Re-tweeted by a few others, including John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister  (whose own tweets are usually amusing).

And then came this wonderful exchange. I am not a fan of Nick Clegg’s recent change in principles.  Nor would it seem are many, judging by the polls.   Tom Watson MP, who is a keen user of twitter and does engage with a lot of people (not just his voters) on Twitter,  then sent out this tweet….

This prompted Labour’s ex-Twitter Czar, @KerryMP to tweet…

And… gloriously… and in my view… rightly…. this tweet!

Tom Watson MP did clarify…. and I have to say…. it made my evening….. political commentary  does not have to be serious (The polbloggers are very good at the humour) …. and it is good to see a bit of gallows humour in these dark days……

I have broken no confidences with these tweets. They were public – and, frankly, it won’t do Inspector Cleggeau any harm to know that his Party  poll rating has dropped to 16 points and not everyone is as impressed with him as he is with himself.


Link to footage

Link to Tunes….

Link 1 above

Link 2 above

Link 3 above

AND FINALLY……… THE GREAT ESCAPE THEME TUNE... you can even download it to your iPhone!  –  I have it on my iCharonphone... naturally.

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