This has never truly been about ‘greedy’ lawyers and saving money
It has been said of the English that they prefer pets to people; but perhaps they prefer petrol to people. A cynical observation perhaps, but as the Lords prepares to sound the death knell for civil legal aid, a peak at No 10’s e-petitions website is instructive. Over 110,000 signed a petition opposing January’s 3p a litre fuel rise, while at press time more than 80 Tory MPs were expected to rebel over the measure.
Contrast this with the 1,500 people who signed a petition opposing the civil legal aid reforms, and the steamrollering of the bill implementing the cuts through the Commons.
The coalition has been disingenuous throughout. This has never really been about ‘greedy’ lawyers and saving money. That’s how it was spun to the complaisant tabloids, suckered into cheerleading for measures that will put the law out of reach of a significant chunk of their own readership demographic. It is hard to see this as anything other than an ideological crusade bent on removing the state from another area of civil society, for which the downturn provided a useful alibi.
So will the Lords ride to the rescue? We can hope for scope concessions on clinical negligence and domestic violence. But with opposition to the cuts fractured, even that might be too much to expect. At this late stage, alas, it seems hope is all there is.