Monday, May 01, 2006

Robespierrism

posted by R
(This was initially posted as a comment to the previous post. It didn't register and in any case I thought it should be a separate post so have added it as one. - k)

There is a name for Blair's principles; it is underused, but I didn't invent it, and it is very precisely what's wrong. Robespierrism: there are three important elements. Firstly, "I am the voice of the people." Second, "everyone accused is guilty." Thirdly "No Limits." Robesperre himself explicitly enunciated all these concepts in his lifetime, and Blair's government has expressed the some thoughts in slightly different words frequently.


Blair himself is obviously impatient of all the institutions and movements that attempt to express any opposition to his boundless power or open-ended personal portfolio. They are, to him, all "vested interests" and "out of touch." The actual people are wasting their time telling him what we really want, because he knows better. Blunkett, when Home Secretary, put it expressly: "The ordinary people haven't got these professional bodies and organised groups to speak up for them, there's only me to speak up for the ordinary people." Of course Thatcher and Howard said much the same from time to time. (Remember Howard announcing how he'd decided on an exercise of his judicial function by crowing how he was following a cut-out petition in The Sun.)

Blair only two weeks ago was boasting how he was going to "hound, hassle and harry" suspects out of Britain. That's SUSPECTS! Also see the Lord Chancellor's paper Doing Law Differently of April. It proposes massive powers for the police to impose restrictions, exclusions, financial and punitive sanctions, compulsory treatments and curfews on people not even charged, let alone convicted, of any offence. ("Hey, don't worry, we're decent blokes. And it isn't a breach of human rights because none of this counts as a criminal record.") And the Home Office is introducing legislation to allow police to seize bank accounts, houses and cars from - guess who? - supects! The justification is always that the human rights of The Ordinary People (a.k.a. The Silent Majority and Hardworkingfamilies) are more important than the rights of anyone accused
.
Robespierre seems not to have operated from any formal office, not even the Committee of Public Safety particularly. He was on ALL the committees. No Limits. Joined-up government with a capital G.


Note: 'Doing Law Differently' can be found in a pdf file at:
http://www.dca.gov.uk/dept/doinglawdiffacc.pdf
(no quick link because some computers take against pdf files)

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