April 20, 2007

Bad Laws

This blog tries hard not to be overly unsympathetic to the government- its easy to throw stones from the outside whereas making the decisions is hard. It is hard on occasion to maintain a sympathetic attitude- especially when leglislation is passed that would make victims guilty if they failed to report a crime committed against them for fear of reprisal. Unity has dug up a bill which does just that in cases of domestic violence and of course there have been suggestions to the same effect from the Chief Constable of Merseyside this morning in respect of gun law (I am reliant throughout this piece on Unity's intelligent analysis of the legal issues over at his blog). Unity highlights the effects of such laws upon witnesses and the legal process- and I agree with him- both acts would be counterproductive and lead to miscarriages of justice- such a law risks putting people in jail for being intimidated by violent spouses or by armed gangs.

At the moment, the only crime (with the exception of the ones above) that you are required by law to tender witness to is terrorism. The problem with this law is that it prioritises catching people over the rights of the innocent bystander. In the case of a terrorist atrocity- the threat to the community can be much greater- as Patrick Mercer, the former Tory Homeland security spokesman recently warned apocalyptic scenarios of terrorist atrocities cannot be ruled out- and hence it is probably true that witnesses should be forced to give evidence despite the fact that the law in that case as this makes them a criminal even if they are not a participant in the terrorist activity. Terrorism is different- particularly as most terrorism investigations are conducted unlike ordinary criminal ones before rather than after the fact. As a society we don't lock up potential murderers despite the fact that they haven't committed a murder, we do lock up potential terrorists.

Overall though this does look to be an indefensible set of moves both by the government and the Chief Constable. The Domestic Violence leglislation, which is on the statute book, in particular looks incredibly odd- as Unity argues it would effectively penalise an 18 year old who had fled home because they had been abused but who regularly saw their younger siblings and would threaten that 18 year old with a fourteen year prison sentence. I'm not sure whether I can, as I usually try to do, give the benefit of the doubt to the government on this one- can someone else defend their measures? This looks to me like bad law and should be repealed and the gun law that the Chief Constable wants should never be passed.


Anonymous said...

All well and good but can we really trust Mr Mercer when he has been wrong so many times before. I think "anonymous" on Dale's website maybe on to somthing.

Anonymous Said.
I’m afraid the overly considerate and discreet interview of Patrick Mercer was for the most part a little more interesting than watching paint dry with all that mind-numbing tedious rhetoric about the army and terrorist attacks which has been rammed down our throats for years by the national media.

When Patrick Mercer, talks about our boys coming home dead;he would do well to remember that he was one of the people who ignored Hans Blix (the UN weapons inspector)when he begged him and other members of the select committee to give him more time. Instead Mercer voted for war, by any means necessary, thus the innocent people of Iraq died by their ten’s of thousands and our boys come home in body bags and only now in retrospect does he see or miraculously care that he got it all terribly wrong.

Come on people, you only have to look at Mercer’s indifferent rhetoric about the massacre of 16 primary school children and their teacher in Dunblane to know he is not all sunshine and lollypops. Mercer visited a school in Balderton, Newark, where he was asked what he would do about the situation in Afghanistan if he was Tony Blair,to which he replied: the bombing is wrong, but now it has started, he would continue it. Continue the wrongdoing whatever next?

That he would want to continue the bombing is no surprise because Times Online reported: “Tories' ex-Army Patrick Mercer (Newark) recommended cluster bombs as others might recommend Thornton's chocolates.” Regardless of the fact there is a clear record of enormous damage to civilians, and to British soldiers.

Tory Alan Duncan MP told BBC One's Question Time that Mr Mercer “appeared to be indifferent to the fact that someone was taunted for being black. You cannot be indifferent to that." And that’s why David Cameron rightly gave marching orders to one “industrial-grade idiot” who ought to have known to denounce and deplore the way he said it was in the army.

Actually; I think Mercer was to some extent indifferent to racism and bullying because according to Patrick Mercer, that’s the way it is in the army and we need to remember that his response to the idea of an anti-racist trade union was “Absolute nonsense. Complete and utter rot.”

“Absolute nonsense” he proclaimed, “utter rot”, now that’s a rather indifferent attitude to racism!

Rod Liddle, asked Mercer “is David Cameron a man of principle?” Remember that Mercer told us in the interview that what Cameron did to him was “nothing”, just “sticks and stones” and yet in a resentful manner he replied “He is the leader” To which Liddle said: “Yes, I know he’s the leader. I asked you if he had principle” Mercer then finished off his glass of water, smiled from the other side of the table, sticks two fingers up at Rod Liddle and boldly marches away.

There is something of the night about this man but because he seems to have sunshine pouring through every orifice and his act is damn perfect and supported by the good yet gullible folk willing to sing a chorus of “For He's A Jolly Good Fellow” few will see the monster in disguise and few will see, the Damien side, of Patrick Mercer MP.

james higham said...

I have an enormous problem with the conflict between circumventing the terrorist and the even worse scenario of virtual carte-blanche for a corrupt government locking up innocents 'on suspicion.

Gracchi said...

I made a partial reference to Mercer- to be honest there were parts of his interview that I thought were stupid and parts where I thought he was talking more sense- for instance he argued that Hillary Benn was right not to call the war on terror a war- I think he is right on that personally- but he is wrong on lots of other things and I agree his comments about the military were stereotypical.

James- I think that is the dilemma we all struggle with to be honest at the moment I agree with you.