Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Those British values in full - 1

It is always a joy to have Cherie Booth QC a.k.a. Mrs Blair, the Prime Minister’s wife, in the news. Normally, they keep her locked up to prevent her from spreading her own particular brand of foot and mouth disease. (Every time she opens her mouth she puts her foot in it.)

She has been holding forth about civil liberties and warning the government not to undermine our civil liberties in its pursuit of the terrorists. Let us get away from the inevitable MSM story – PM’s wife opposes government – and the immediate reaction to her statement – does she not want to fight terrorism, then – and look at why exactly the government has seen no choice but to pass endless legislation that constrains all our liberties.

One reason is that Mr Blair, Ms Booth’s husband, is something of a control freak and does not like the idea of liberties at all.

His party, in either its old or its new version has never been much of a friend to liberty, either. In its new version it has no knowledge of British history and, therefore, cannot understand how the concept of liberty, civil or otherwise, can be part of it.

But in practical terms, the most immediate reason is the fact that since the introduction of the Human Rights Act, a contentious piece of legislation and one that has given Ms Booth QC a good deal of highly paid work, it has been impossible to do what needs to be done: target, isolate and, if needs be, imprison or deport specific individuals who are a danger to our country, our people and our society.

Furthermore, we cannot deport certain citizens of other countries who preach death and destruction here and who are badly wanted in their own homes. Well, we could, of course, but we have signed up to endless international humanitarian agreements that forbid us to do so, if those countries do not promise to treat people well. (Yes, I know, France has signed up to those agreements, too, but Nicolas Sarkozy sees that between international humanitarian agreement and the protection of one’s own country there can be no contest.)

As a consequence, the government needs to crack down on all of us, to make sure that there is no discrimination between the guilty and the innocent. That is, indeed, undermining our few remaining civil liberties.

The answer is clear. Repeal the Human Rights Act and pass a piece of legislation that allows a country defend itself against those who wish to destroy it, if needs be, despite certain previous agreements that were never meant to apply to people who preach mass murder, anyhow.

The virtue of the western legal system as it was developed in the twelfth century or thereabouts is that it is individuals who are accused, tried and punished, not whole communities. It is the likes of Cherie Booth QC who make it impossible to maintain the legal system, civil liberties and defend the country simultaneously.

But then, Ms Booth QC seems to have a short memory, in any case. Not so long ago, I seem to recall, she appeared on some platform or another rejoicing in the fact that the women of Afghanistan were no longer forced to wear a burqua in the post-Taliban era.

Indeed, she showed with her hands how small the gap was through a which a woman in a burqua could see and invited us to be horrified about it.

Let us move two years forward. Cherie Booth QC is now the lawyer who defends Shabina Begum’s “right”, strongly advocated by her brother and another bullying male member of her family, to wear a full jilbab at school, once again using the Human Rights Act as her base.

Not a burqua, perhaps, but hardly an outfit for a modern girl in a British school that had managed to work out a uniform that was sensible and did not offend anyone’s religions feelings.

It seems that when it comes to Britain and British Muslim women, then what their menfolk happen to say is the right thing for them to do, according to Ms Booth QC. She would be horrified if similar ideas were announced for English girls. But the notion that the law is the law and rules defined by certain institutions for themselves apply to all, regardless of creed, do not seem to appeal to this particular “leading” barrister.

Incidentally, whatever happened to Shabina Begum? She was, as I recall, 16 and, therefore, this was her last compulsory year at school. Is she going to go back to do A levels or will she be forced into a marriage with someone chosen by her brother? What of her human rights then?

Which brings me to this morning’s Daily Telegraph and its entirely laudable attempt to define the core values of British identity, which I shall discuss in the next posting.

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