Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sneaking Suspicion

The continuing furore over prisons has led me to suspect, just ever-so-slightly, that one or two of Her Majesty's judges have been playing the game a bit. If you want to excite the tabloids, take a paedophile's sentence down a notch (or just say that's what you are doing) and Fleet Street's finest will rage with kneejerk condemnation - but not of you. The target will be elsewhere.

The judiciary at all levels has suffered almost a decade of criticism, veiled and not-so-veiled threats, and attempts to fetter its discretion. Unsurprisingly quite a few people have had enough and we may well see more carefully worded judgements that have a subtext of making the Home Secretary and his minions look stupid.

The contempt that has been shown to the judiciary means that politicians have taken on a powerful and articulate body who are a great deal harder to sack than any minister. Where I grew up, that's called leading with your chin.

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