Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Tuesday Truth


Out of the frying pan into the fire?

Goodbye Mr Grayling. It can be sad when relationships end, lost opportunities, ongoing feelings, intense bitterness, well in your case its just intense bitterness.   It is difficult for me to find the appropriate words to sum up my feelings at your departure from the Ministry of Justice. But I will try!

“Go now go walk out the door

  Don’t turn around now

  Cause you’re  not welcome anymore

  Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt us with your lie?  (or being charitable genuine mistakes)

  Did you think we’d crumble?

  Did you think we’d lay down and die?

  Oh no, not us

  We will survive

I know you wanted to give it another go. Upon your successful re-election as a Member of Parliament you indicated your desire to be returned to the Ministry of Justice to continue your work/destruction within the criminal justice system.   Sadly, Mr Cameron your boss did not see things the same way.   Perhaps it was the £70,000 odd  in costs wasted on defending the judicial review of your ban on books, perhaps it was the various other litigation that you lost or injudicious comments, but in the end you have been replaced with Mr Gove.

As soon as news leaked of Mr Gove’s elevation lawyers up and down the country received messages via text and social media from teachers sending their condolences and other unprintable remarks.

Many years ago Mr Gove wrote an article in The Times where he stated that there would be far less risk of corruption to the criminal justice system if the death penalty was re-introduced.   Of course now any such re-introduction would have to be predicated on the basis that the defendant had discharged all of his or her financial obligations, including costs to the prosecution, victim surcharge, the new Court tax, and that might delay the administration of the death penalty. Serco and G4s will soon be putting in tenders for such executions. No need to worry about anything going wrong then!

We already know that Mr Gove is going to tear up the Human Rights Act, and consequently the fight for justice goes on. Of course, this time it is not a coalition government it is a Conservative government, and therefore we do not have the Liberal Democrats to hold the Conservatives to account in respect of access to justice, although that will probably make no difference whatsoever (farewell Simon Hughes, you sold your principles down the line and were sentenced to losing your seat; thoroughly deserved).

On many occasions the Tuesday Truth has made grand declarations of the need to stand together to fight for our beliefs, to stand with the other stakeholders in the criminal justice system, for what is right and proper. We now need to stand together with other professions; doctors and teachers, to demonstrate that health, education and access to justice are the central pillars of an effective, civilised democracy.  Each of the three sectors profoundly impacts the other and each needs the other to be properly functioning.   There is a real risk that in five years time each will have sustained irreversible damage. 

The job I do I love.  I love going to court, to police stations, preparing cases. I feel it has a value, a benefit, I feel I deliver value for money. I hope that Mr Gove will allow the people who work at the coalface greater influence, and put off reform and cuts for greater review, in the end I just want to be left alone to do my job……..

Finally I have a question, to which I hope someone might have an answer. Is there an end to austerity? The Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman says that uniquely in the Western world the UK (and now we should limit that to England, Wales and Northern Ireland since Scotland has voted so decisively) suffers from an “austerity delusion” all other advanced economies having realised very quickly that austerity of the type we have endured here actually limits economic recovery quite apart from the very real harm it causes to vital parts of the public services. With regard to the justice system a number of us have pointed out that the MOJ’s objective to bring down expenditure to £1.5bn has been achieved three years earlier than projected. To paraphrase the hapless Liam Byrne MP there really is no more money left to cut.  Mr Gove is credited with a fine mind and I fervently hope that he realises that Two Tier is unworkable and will prove to be a political embarrassment on his watch and that further cuts are unsustainable and will push us justice survivors into another fight when we all want to just get on with the job we love.


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