News that the army’s most senior legal officer during the Iraq war has signed a letter to the Daily Mail from hundreds of lawyers opposing secret courts (tinyurl.com/cnxcazg) raises a curious prospect. If there were a military coup in this country, we would be moving to the Left (apologies to comedian Mark Steel for pinching that joke). One hardly needs to repeat here the arguments against these ‘dangerous and unnecessary’ proposals.
For lawyers however, they are all of a piece. As Laura Devine observes in her Legal Update on immigration this week, what is apparent is the seeming disengagement of reasoned debate and empirical evidence from rational policymaking. The phenomenon ‘plays itself out through crafting of policies that are more focused on beating the opposition, toeing a party line or gaining ephemeral political capital,’ she notes.
In essence, we are witnessing the triumph of ideology and cynicism over decency and even simple common sense, as demonstrated too by the court interpreters outsourcing debacle and the government’s shameful capitulation to the insurance lobby over personal injury fees. Does anyone seriously believe car insurance premiums will fall?
One notes in passing that – as they were entitled to do – financial firms with insurance interests gave the Conservative party £4.9m between December 2005 and 2011, and Peter Wood, founder of Direct Line, gave Chris Grayling, then shadow home secretary, £71,000 to run his office.