Monday, 5 December 2016

The Supreme Court will not be pronouncing on the Referendum result nor flouting that vote but rather adjudicating in the light of our Constitution.

Judges and others have been subjected to the most contemptible attacks and all of it under the supposedly altruistic guise of ‘defending the peoples’ rights’.

High Court decision was a resounding defence of the Constitution, Rule of Law, the Sovereignty of Parliament and Parliamentary democracy 

Ever since the decision of the High Court on those matters associated with introducing Article 50, the Royal Prerogative and the Sovereignty of Parliament the Judiciary, anti-Brexit remainers and political figures have been subjected to the most contemptible attacks and under the supposedly altruistic guise of ‘defending the peoples’ rights’.

The reality always was that there was that it would have been highly unlikely that the High Court judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, would seek to overthrow parliamentary sovereignty. It has after all been supreme since the Civil War and the Bill of Rights in the seventeenth century. 

The decision of the High Court was a resounding defence of the Constitution, Rule of Law, the Sovereignty of Parliament and Parliamentary democracy.  It was not making any pronouncement on the outcome of the Referendum on June 23. To pretend otherwise is a travesty.

It also reaffirmed and highlighted the principle that the Judiciary is independent from both Executive and the Legislature. Even the right wing press, the most ardent Brexit Tory MPs and Ministers and yes even UKIP leaders must realise that the principle of the separation of powers is the bedrock our democracy is founded on and indeed it can be traced as far back as the Magna Carta.

But the attack by the media and politicians was outrageous and unprincipled – and it was also bordering on populist incitement. Since the Brexit vote they have sought to delegitimise their opponents’ views and silence them through intimidation. After the High Court decision some  newspapers incorporated acial innuendo with accusations of treachery, whilst casting themselves as representatives of the people against unelected “out of touch” judges.

In fact I have been pondering has anything akin to all this taken place before during my lifetime?

What I have been able to come up with is the following. Yes there have been challenges to the judges and the rule of law and I have in mind in particular the Trade Unions stance over the Industrial Relations Act of the early 1970’s, events and outrages during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, then during the period when Derick Hatton and the Militants were running Liverpool Council,  disorder and major crowd disturbances during the Miners’ strikes in the 1980’s and of course the rioting and protests over the Poll Tax in early 1990’s.

However I do not recall any of it being as sinister as what has been propagated by people and sources that should know better. There is little doubt that the views expressed and the language used goes way beyond character assassination and right-wing posturing into something darker and potentially more sinister.

What the Attorney General Jeremy Wright, who is leading the Government’s Supreme Court appeal said of the three judges that they effectively ignored the ‘will of the electorate’, relegating the vote ‘almost to a footnote’ was completely out of order.

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell said the ruling was an example of “shocking judicial activism – these judges are politicians without accountability”. Suzanne Evans described the judges as “activists” and it was ‘Time we had the right to sack them.’

Ian Duncan Smith went further, that it is not the job of Judges ‘to tell Parliament… how they go about their business. That's for Parliament to decide. I would simply advise that the Government should ignore it."

What has been far more troubling is where has the prime minister been in all this? Surely as a former Home Secretary she must understand and accept that the rule of law requires that the courts have jurisdiction to scrutinise the actions of government and what is more to ensure that they are lawful?

Then there was the Lord Chancellor Liz Truss, who has a constitutional duty to defend the judges?

All that came from both of them were bland statements as to how they value the independence of the Judiciary – but nothing whatsoever on the vile attacks that the Judges and the Judiciary have had to endure.

I leave it to Lord Elystan Morgan to explain and expand further.