Tuesday, 9 June 2020
Priti Patel doesn't even know how the law works!
It's widely accepted that Priti Patel is one of the least intelligent members of the least talented government this country has ever suffered, but once again she's made an absolute fool of herself.
You'll probably already be familiar with some of her other blunders, like claiming that applying the death penalty to innocent people would serve as a deterrent, getting caught working as an agent for another state embedded within the UK government, and being unable to read a six digit number off a piece of paper.
Her error this time is particularly sinister and disturbing because it highlights the fact that she has absolutely no understanding of the fundamental basics of how the criminal justice system functions in a liberal democracy.
Patel's latest blunder came about when she put political pressure on the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset police to ensure criminal prosecution of the activists who took down the statue of Tory slave-trader Edward Colston over the weekend.
This is simply not how the law works, and this kind of political interference represents a dangerous step towards police state authoritarianism.
The way it's supposed to work is that the police conduct an investigation, and then pass their evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The CPS then make a decision whether to bring the case to trial, based on considerations such as the likelihood of conviction, and whether a trial would actually be in the public interest.
The legitimate role of the government, and specifically the Home Secretary, is to propose new laws, and alterations of existing laws, which are obviously subject to parliamentary approval before they can be enacted.
A legitimate position for the Home Secretary to take would be to argue that the current laws prohibiting vandalism of public monuments are not strong enough, and to propose new legislation.
It's completely illegitimate for the Home Secretary to put pressure on the police or the CPS in order to demand prosecutions, because then any case that is brought, can obviously be perceived as politically motivated.
And once we slip into the territory of politically motivated prosecutions, we end up with political prisoners, meaning we're living in a police state.
Patel is obviously far to dim to understand any of this, but ever since the Stalinist Cummings Purge of the 21 liberal-capitalist Tory MPs in September 2019, the Tory party is even more bereft of talent than it was before.
I'm obviously no huge fanboy for purged Tories like David Gauke, Ken Clarke, Rory Stewart, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Philip Hammond ... but at least these individuals would have been somewhat more likely to actually understand a little bit about the history and structure of the legal system, and the critical importance of avoiding political interference in the application of justice.
The fact of the matter is that if the protesters who organised the statue removal are found, and prosecuted, they can easily demonstrate that the prosecution was politically motivated, thanks to Patel, and then portray themselves as political prisoners if they're convicted.
I'd actually expect black civil rights campaigners to be queuing up to face such a ludicrous prosecution, because the prospect of being jailed for opposing slavery, in a politically partisan trial, would obviously create a powerful martyrdom narrative and turn their predicament into an instant cause célèbre.
Furthermore, conviction at the behest of a right-wing government would make a powerful demonstration of the systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter protesters were protesting against in the first place!
So whichever way you look at it, Patel has screwed up.
If you're you're even remotely liberal, you'll be opposed to politically motivated prosecutions as a matter of principle.
And if you're of the authoritarian persuasion, and want to see the statue-removers punished, then Patel's politicisation of the process has made the prospect of a reasonable conviction all the more difficult than it already was!
As ludicrous as this situation is, it's also deeply concerning, because once again we're an absolute laughing stock of a country, with a profoundly unintelligent and disturbingly authoritarian Home Secretary who demonstrably doesn't give the slightest damn about how the law is supposed to work in liberal democracies.
Any reasonable person, of any political persuasion (other than rabid right-wing authoritarianism) must be left wondering how on earth we've sunk so low.
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