How It Happened, chapter 1

Note: The Libertarian Alliance does not recommend or condone the use of violence to achieve political ends. Of course, the story published below is merely advice on how lawfully appointed Ministers of the Queen should proceed once in office. As such, it falls within the section of the Bill of Rights providing “That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal.” But the Directors and Officers of the Libertarian Alliance devoutly hope that the restoration of constitutional government will not require such extremes as are described below. SIG

[I would appreciate any eagle-eyed comments noticing spelling and grammatical mistakes.]

The tourists who had come to view Westminster Abbey gathered to view the spectacle as tanks rolled down the street towards the “Supreme Court” building on Parliament Square. There had been no warning of troop movements. The BBC had just gone off air—no one knew why—but otherwise everything was as normal. Soldiers jumped out of the vehicles, armed with machine guns. Something was happening. And there were no media present; just tourists snapping the sight with the cameras on their phones.

A court official ran out, shouting, “you can’t come in; this is illegal!”, and within a few seconds policemen, dozens of them, ran out of the Supreme Court building, blocking the entrance. Major Jackson approached them and explained his business, provoking much shouting and arguing the tourists couldn’t quite make out.

Minutes later, the news broke on Sky. The Queen had agreed, at the first meeting of the Privy Council after the election, to suspend habeas corpus and order the arrest of the judges of the “Supreme Court” on grounds of high treason. The BBC had been taken off air, but a similar stand-off was taking place outside Broadcasting House. It was reported that BBC staff were refusing to leave the building, and commanders outside were awaiting political orders on how to proceed.

The news rippled through the crowd, which stood back to allow whatever act or drama was unfolding before their eyes to continue. No one knew if the court officials would stand down, or what action the soldiers would take. Everyone now knew the soldiers had been ordered to arrest all 12 of the “justices of the Supreme Court”, and to gun down anyone who stood in their way. There were to give no quarter.

Major Jackson issued his final threat and ran back towards the men. The policemen were standing firm, and so was the court official. What they were doing was treason—revolt against the sovereign. The soldiers took aim, and with a nod from Jackson opened fire. The court official collapsed in a bloody mess, murmuring “how dare you?” as he expired. Some of the policemen fell; the others ran; the crowd screamed. But the way had been cleared. Jackson tried the door: it was locked. The cowards had locked themselves in.

The glass door would not withstand a direct collision with a tank. The tank glided up the stairs and jolted against the door, which momentarily remained in place, although shattered in pieces as vein-like cracks appeared, before those pieces fell to the ground. The tank rolled back, and the men ran in the building.

They ran down the corridors of the building, but had difficulty making contact with the enemy. They searched the building room by room, until at the back of the building on an upper floor, he found them cowering together, a group of court officials and judges dressed in haughty finery.

“You can’t touch us: we are judges”, one of them exclaimed.

“You will come with us, or be gunned down on the spot”, Jackson informed them.

“Under what law?”, asked one of the judges.

“By order of Her Majesty the Queen. We will not debate the Common Law with you. You will come, or die now”.

They submitted, all twelve of them. Their fine robes were ripped off—each of them demeaned their apparel, which was meant to signify Royal authority and the majesty of the Law—and they later emerged from the building, cuffed and cowed.

Tom Smith, the new prime minister, had promised a radical restoration of the Law, the law the Queen was required to uphold as a condition of her accession to the throne. He had humiliated the Queen in private consultation as he stressed to her that she was now required to reverse the damage she had allowed to be done over 60-odd years as monarch. In the end, she had no choice: to refuse to appoint Smith would have required another general election, which she would have lost. Smith had campaigned against our membership of the European Union, the constant ingress of Africans and Asians into our country, the official promotion of multi-culturalism and the anti-racialist hysteria, and the failure of our judges to uphold English Common Law, including the provisions of the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta. The aged Queen could not be sure of winning an election on a platform to maintain bureaucratic rule, in London and Brussels, in defiance of the constitution she had sworn to uphold.

Smith, surrounded by a phalanx of guards, came out into Downing Street, where workmen were busy removing the illegal structures that prevented the public from gaining access to the Queen’s Highway along the street, and gave more details of what was going to happen. There would be no long and drawn-out court case for the traitors of the Supreme Court: the Queen had agreed to appoint a Star Chamber that would handle the case speedily. The sole question to be resolved was whether those judges had declared themselves to be a Supreme body, no longer, as required under the Common Law, a committee of the House of Lords. If the answer to that question was that they had declared themselves to be so, they would each be publicly executed in Parliament Square the following day. Justice must be seen to be done.

Smith gave a deadline of 2pm for the BBC workers to hand over Broadcasting House. The RAF stood ready to bomb the building, he said. He was prepared to do it. A den of traitors, who had used or misused their control of information to pretend that foreign rule, multi-culturalism, bureaucratic hypertrophy and such like were in the public interest, had to be held to account one way or the other. Commissioner Sir Jamil Ahmed of the Metropolitan Police was also being arrested, he said, indicating that he, and all the other police chiefs in the United Kingdom would be subject to charges of misprision of treason. All of them knew that the entire political class had agreed to support foreign rule and the dispossession of the English people. The law did not permit them not to take action against treason. They were all guilty.

Having delivered a brief explanation of the day’s events, Smith disappeared back inside Number 10. No one knew what would happen next—who else would be arrested or what other buildings would be attacked. For a government to take power—and then take down the Establishment—this was quite unexpected. We knew Smith wanted to withdraw from the EU and was likely to curtail immigration. But no one could have predicted a palace coup on day one of the new administration.

Minutes later, it was reported that troops were surrounding Buckingham Palace. The Queen was inside—the Royal Standard was up—so had they come to defend the Queen or pose a menace to her? Press commentators argued both sides of this point, but those in the know, with connections in the Constitutional Alliance, which had taken power under Tom Smith, insisted the troops had arrived to prevent the defection of the Queen. She could steal out of the Palace and lead the bureaucratic counterattack. What were the troops’ orders if the Royal Family attempted to leave the Palace? Would the troops open fire on the Monarch herself? No one had clear answers. It felt like the October Revolution in Russia: the CA had come to power peacefully, but was now using force to impose its agenda.

Late morning, the BBC flickered back to life. Broadcasts resumed for a good half an hour, in defiance of the Order in Council, with Charlotte Dimbleby, the latest scion of the media family, known affectionately as “Dimplebottom” among the media elite, for some reason, presenting a frenetic denunciation of the elected government. Everyone must come out against the government, she argued.

“Get to Hyde Park as soon as you can. Hyde Park is the meeting place. If the people are united the government will not dare move against us. Bring whatever you need to defend yourselves”.

The BBC’s rogue broadcast had a link-up with a unit on the ground in the park, and sure enough, people were converging in small groups on the park. The Socialist Workers with their loud hailers were there, but there were more people standing on the sidelines watching what would happen. This was a government prepared to use force, and no one knew how far to push their luck. Every few minutes Charlotte and her studio cut into the live broadcast of Hyde Park with yet more pleas for popular manifestations against the new government.

Then shouting was heard at the rear of the studio, as a group of armed men pushed their way into the studio. They fired on the presenters. Charlotte slumped over the desk, and a clear image was broadcast of blood pouring out of her mouth. The cameramen were taken out. And the BBC was off the air again. It was later reported that stormy arguments raged within the BBC on whether to flout the Order in Council, with a radical group gaining control of the airwaves for a time. SAS teams had entered Broadcasting House and BBC facilities in Salford and elsewhere in a bid to prevent the broadcasts, and Charlotte had been gunned down by one of those teams.

Without the BBC, the opposition was in disarray. Sky covered the day’s events, but coverage was restrained: the facts were reported, but no attempt was made to organise popular resistance, lest a military attack on their facilities be mounted too. Finally, the 2pm deadline came and went. Our soldiers were pulled out of the BBC headquarters. A cordon sanitaire was thrown up around the facility, to prevent the workers within from fleeing for their lives. Combat aircraft were heard overhead and within seconds began to strafe the building. The first bomb shattered the windows and was followed by an explosion within. Flames poured out of the windows, with plumes of smoke rising into the heavens, deftly avoided by our airmen. The next bomb and the next found their targets, and soon the building was yellow and black, cloaked in flames, smoke and soot. They came running out of the entrance, but the army was ready for them. All of the workers who sought to leave were machine-gunned down—live on Sky TV. Smith intended the revolution to be televised, as a warning to anyone seeking to resist. The Salford workers gave themselves up, surrendering their facilities, and escaping, however unjustly, with their lives.

By late afternoon all the police chiefs were in custody. More and more reports emerged of more junior judges being arrested. Smith had only mentioned the justices of the Supreme Court, but CA sources told Sky that the entire judiciary would now be held to account. They had enforced European legislation over that passed by our Westminster Parliament, justified by their interpretation of the flagrantly unlawful European Communities Bill 1972, which the Queen had, illegally, purported to sign into law in an act that made King John’s handing over of England to Pope Innocent III a minor act of Royal perjury in comparison. The numbers being arrested continued to climb, but it seemed clear that some police constabularies were refusing to take part in the raids on homes of the members of the judiciary, despite government assurances that police officers with ranks lower than Assistant Commissioner would not be held accountable for political crimes. It would take a while to get full control of the machinery of state, a necessary consequence of a full-fronted attack on the Establishment.

The magistrates were easier to deal with. It seemed these were not going to be executed. The gallows would never be out of operation if all the traitors were hanged, and so some kind of line had to be drawn. It was announced on Sky that magistrates who had colluded in the administration of unlawful imposts such as the Council Tax—in other words, all of the magistrates, as they had all agreed to enforce “statutes” that flouted the Common Law’s prohibition of personal taxation established ever since the Peasants’ Revolt—would be subject to large fines provided they handed themselves in to the nearest police station, and would thereby not forfeit their lives. A similar concession was available for council officials who had levied a range of “fines”, in violation of the Bill of Rights. They handed themselves in in such large numbers there was no room to sit down in police jails.

The government hadn’t yet announced what was to happen to senior civil servants, including those at the Revenue and Customs who had claimed an extra-judicial right to levy fines. This was partly for fear of a collapse of the entire machinery of Whitehall. Smith was going to deal with the senior civil servants over the next few days. What counted for now was to gain physical control of London. MPs and Lords were another group of potential targets, but once again Smith had delayed an accounting with them until later in the week. Ultimately, everyone who was anyone in the British state was a traitor, but you couldn’t get them all. It was necessary, however, to get enough to them to instil fear in the rest and thus extract compliance from what remained of the state machinery.

The crowd in Hyde Park marched around, yelling slogans, and tried to move into Green Park and thus towards the Palace, but were thwarted by the troops. Penned into the park, with insufficient toilet facilities and growing weary of standing around and arguing with each other, they started to drift home. It looked by the end of the day as if Smith was basically in control. He had removed the organs of propaganda, and seized some of the key members of the Establishment. Most importantly, he had most of the army’s top brass on side, assisted by the consideration that he was a constitutionally elected head of government with the notional support of the Queen and the Privy Council on his side. He was starting to wonder what to do next. He knew he needed to act fast, as the Establishment was unlikely to go down without a fight.

At 10pm, as the new Cabinet met for the first time, news was received, by text message, that an unauthorised gathering of troops had been spotted in Horseguards Parade. This information had not been relayed by the Cabinet Secretary or the other members of the civil service in the Cabinet Office, who feigned ignorance. But thousands of men with automatic weapons and a few tanks between them had now congregated, close enough for an assault on Downing Street. This was mutiny and this was treason—and Smith knew instinctively that Sir Jocelyn Neville, the Cabinet Secretary, was not as ignorant as he made out to be. A brief call to the Palace established that the Queen had not authorised the gathering of troops, or was not admitting to having done so.

Tanks were moved in place to take on the rebels, and the media got ready for a pitched battle on Horseguards. Negotiators moved in defuse the situation. Floodlights lit up the area, and leaflets were dropped by helicopter telling the men gathered there what they were doing was treason. As the negotiations wore on, Crown forces thickened in numbers, to the point where the rebellion was seen to have failed. The commanders of the rebel force handed themselves over, and were executed on the spot, in front of the cameras on Horseguards Parade, without the luxury of a court martial. The rest of the men were arrested, but assured their lives would be spared.

By midnight, the rebellion was over. Sir Jocelyn was taken into “protective custody”—a ruse bureaucrats like himself had often used to justify unlawful imprisonment of political dissidents. The Cabinet Office was emptied of civil servants, and trusted security personnel brought in to sweep the building for eavesbugging devices and to examine the email boxes of all Cabinet Office personnel. Smith decided that they could not rely on existing Cabinet Office staff, who were likely to be in collusion with rebel elements. They were all to be prevented from turning up for work in the morning, with their salaries and pensions cancelled. The failure of the rebellion was a good sign. A window of opportunity had been created to build a free state. It could only be built by intimidating and cashiering the senior personnel of the previous regime.

In the morning, the Star Chamber met. No one knew where the Star Chamber was meant to meet, as the Star Chamber had been abolished after the Civil War, but Smith decided to hold the trial of the judges in Westminster Hall. As no plea of mitigation would be accepted, all that had to be established was whether the justices of the Supreme Court had claimed to be a Supreme Court. The judges of the Star Chamber were handpicked; the verdict was never in doubt and the trial took 15 minutes, all told.

Immediately afterwards, the judges were led in chains into Parliament Square, where the gallows had been erected, waiting for them. And, one by one, they were led up on to the platform, submitted their heads to the noose and a head covering and took their final leap. It could not have been done any other way, or else the judiciary would have frustrated all attempts at reform. The final execution of the junior judges would take weeks, but the machinery was now in motion.

Smith responded to the news of the cashiering of the judges of the Supreme Court with a statement before the cameras in Downing Street:

“I have just received a message from an official of the Star Chamber. It reads, ‘be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the judicial conspiracy against the law has been crushed’”.

In the days that followed, MPs and peers who had supported the bureaucratic regime were arrested too, a development that had been expected, although in some quarters it had been hoped that politicians would be spared in the interests of “toleration” and democracy. Smith knew that such limp-wristed considerations would defeat the revolution he was putting in place. We needed a new Establishment, and the best way to get it was to hang the old one.

32 responses to “How It Happened, chapter 1

  1. William Palfreman writes: Would lead to a counter-revolution instantly. Would never carry the Army once such barbarity became known. Would result in all the perpetrators being shot.

    There is nothing in that list of suggestions that could not be achieved better peacefully by the usually parliamentary means. The BBC is nothing without funding. Supreme Court acts can be repealed. Judges can take early retirement. It has happened twice in the last hundred years without a shot being fired, after all.

    For an incoming government to expecting the army, RAF or the Queen to go along with any of that at all beggars belief.

  2. djwebb2010

    Who is William Palfreman? The chapter is fiction. It is a fantasy of what I would like to see happen, not a prediction of what will happen. My prediction of what will happen is that England becomes ever less free, less prosperous and unhappy.

    This is not barbarity: the Common Law does provide for execution of traitors. Palfreman’s view that another approach – judges retiring – would work better is false – the Establishment would frustrate any attempt at closing down half the state – as indeed Cameron has found out, as they have rejected many of his ideas out of hand.

    Lenin and the Bolsheviks quarrelled with the Mensheviks about the Revolution: apparently some Communists couldn’t stomach revolution when they saw it, but he said “revolution is not a tea-party”. You do have to move quickly to neutralise opposition. That is all that is in this chapter.

  3. I’ve been saying for years, for example, that “teachers” (a very important sort of fellow) ought not to be allowed anywhere near other people who they will instruct – let alone children – until they are (a) at least 55, (b) have done something worthwhile, like “running Tesco” (and I don’t mean the Formby Tesco meat-counter) or “starting a business that sold things to people that wanted to buy these things”, or (c) -and I’ll make an exception for some sorts of statist – having been a successful Officer at at least Field or Staff level, and who took part in or orchestrated a successful “campaign”. (These last are often the most humane and gentle of men.)

    In the case of “teachers” as but one example, a “new establishment” will simply have to be found. Nearly all the existing ones are simply “unreliable”, politically, through haveing been through the hoops they are made to go through by the PoliticalEnemyClass.

    I don’t doubt that “judges” will have been corrupted in exactly the same way and towards achieving the same FabiaNazi objectives. Not knowing any judges at this minute, I can’t say, but the last one I came across was a self-regarding scumbag (sadly from my own University, but happily I got out of there before he got in) who feathered his nest as a “barister” and is now rather famous, and lives not far from the Nissen Hut.

  4. djwebb2010

    David the teacher training colleges need to go as a matter of urgency.

  5. I agree. They were set up on purpose as a tactical resource in the Long March Through The Institutions. It’s really a job for the War secretariat, as it’ll probably not be quite a smooth as we hope, and no tactical war plan survives first enemy-contact.

  6. Much as I would like to see sundry politicians and bureaucrats dangling from lampposts by piano wire, this a Nineteenth Century solution to Twenty First Century problems.

    Power needs to be switched from the collective to the individual. Once I finish my doomsday weather control weapon I’ll sort things out to my liking.

    The powers that be move to autonomous armed drones, figure out how to hack into one to take out Parliament, Europarl, White House… TPB genetically engineer food crops, figure out the genetic markers and contaminate the food to make it poisonous to collectivists ( Domestic robots become widespread, inject computer viruses that turn them into assassination machines. The internet as a the global surveillance grid – use cryptocurrencies and P2P applications to instantiate Jim Bell’s “Assassination Politics” –
    …with added reality TV, to the universal acclaim of the populace.

    Embrace their tyranny and use it against them.

  7. Chris Morriss

    Any merit this article has is swept aside by the truly appalling sub-Dan Brown writing. Surely the libertarian right can do better than this.
    It also reminds me, though from a different political perspective, of the analogous section in William Morris’s “News from Nowhere”.

  8. William Palfreman says again via FaceBook:

    Look, any *government* already has plenty of power. It has no trouble easing out troublesome judges, with an offer of “early retirement”. Of course one has to move decisively and resolutely, but imagining anyone getting away with shooting judges is cuckoo. The whole public sector is totally dependent on ready cash supplies. The moment they don’t get paid all of them are gone, with many leaving the country. These are not resilient people accustomed to scratching a living on stony soil. 90% or more of every single problem group in modern Britain depends on a state handout and will only stick around so long as it gets paid.

    All that happens if some idiot judges refuse early retirement and go about declaring it illegal to do xyz is that not only do they not get paid, but they find their rulings ignored, then their car gets clamped in their own driveway and before you know it they take early retirement too and off they go to the south of France along with the rest of them.

  9. Sean Gabb is correct.

    There is no need to attack the BBC building – just end the BBC tax (the so called “license fee”).

    DItto the “Supreme Court” (and so on) just STOP PAYING THEM.

    If there are any objections just reply as follows……

    “Your own heros, Maitland and so on, say that Parliament can do anything it likes – and we have decided to stop taking money (by threat of violence) from the taxpayers and giving it to you”.

    Ditto the European (and international) Conventions and Declarations of “Human Rights” – Parliament can withdraw from the lot, and (if one reads them in detail) it certainly should do so.

    The “little” problem is – how does one get a decent Parliament?

  10. djwebb2010

    I’m afraid offering judges early retirement and taking away the money will not work as a solution. The key problem is obtaining any authority at all following election. Let’s say UKIP won the next election. They would simply find it impossible to govern. The civil service would ignore everything. The whole thing would just go nowhere. It is a fantasy that the government governs. It doesn’t. The government, or the Cabinet, is just a group of men sitting in Downing Street. How to translate their policies into action is the question – once the state is already overly large, it has the resources to stand in the way of its own destruction.

    It is absurd to start attacking a fictional piece of writing, which is just a fantasy. It is a product of my own imagination alone. Everything I outlined was within the law – the execution of traitors, the covening of the Star Chamber, the suspension of habeas corpus – these have all been done before. I have started on chapter 2, but not ready yet.

  11. john warren

    Mr Webb:

    You’ve invited comment so let me say that I like it. To start at beginning, it would probably carry more effectively if written in 1st person; make the narrator a no-nonsense type. Forceful, opinionated but absolutely not scholarly. Also a hopeless romantic forced into a situation he loathes, always works well.

    Maybe a well connected recently retired army officer (Major might work best for obvious reasons). Cavalry regiment would present the possibility of having ‘Royal’ connections. He could also have to hand a few dozen loyal supporters all with combat training. (Like many other army officers who we all know and who turned to politics after retirement – ordering people about quickly becomes addictive)

    Who cares what happens to the Judges? Just round up those who are shouting off and lose them. They go nowhere.

    Of course, and here I’m with Sean and Co, carrying HM along would be all but impossible. I don’t think I’d run with that – but this is a work of fiction so hardly matters. She could be on her death bed of course so leaving the Throne vulnerable; but then who is there within the Royal family who’d run the risk of upsetting their own well-laden apple-cart? Not one I can think of – unless the ‘major’ had already done plenty of groundwork. Harry might be the type? Ok, you’re right – no not really.

    Definitely cut out ‘machine gun carrying troops’. Too vague – the major knows ‘exactly’ what weapons his boys will be carrying. Even ‘assault rifle’ sounds too vague – home in on the detail. Convince the reader you know what you’re talking about and that your characters are real.

    Don’t forget tear and smoke grenades – in such situations these are essential tools. The major will have trained his boys when and when not to use them. Plod can send in whatever it is that they’ve recently armed themselves wit. Our Major’s boys will be better armed by fighting for the honour of every fallen British soldier; not just for their own life and liberty.

    The major, should be blessed with an unforgettable name of course (one I liked was ‘Captain Pierres Ben-Gough, Officer of Hussars’. Yes, he might yet remain breathing. I knew him – looked kinda soft but tougher than nails). Of course he’ll be shot at first by some panicking, poorly trained, out of control, brain-washed, pathetic modern-day plod. He’ll then be obliged to take said plod down in order to protect his boys (wow, this major character I’m beginning to like already).

    Anyway, I have to go now but I hope this helps a little. If it was allowed to pass, you could make serious cash with this novel. Be like that Rowling woman and spread the net wide.

    That’s my twopennies worth.

  12. In terms of fiction, it’s fine to write something like this, and harmless fun. Keep going David, I’ll look forward to future chatpers.

    In terms of fact, I’ll go back to an old argument I’ve made, which is that if we’re ever in a position to do such things, we won’t need to do them, because we’re already in a “win” condition. The problem is getting to that position.

    If a Libertarian ever walks into Downing Street, he will be able to reorder the State as required. The problem is really what to do once he’s there. Getting out of a Big Government is a very hard problem, which is why on another thread here I suggested that as much as talking about what we desire, we need to talk about practical methods of getting there, step by step. Preferably without shooting anybody.

  13. djwebb says ” the Establishment would frustrate any attempt at closing down half the state – as indeed Cameron has found out, as they have rejected many of his ideas out of hand”. I thought Cameron was keen on the State controlling the power and the purse. That’s why the reforms were zero sum in reality, just the same socio-political ideas wrapped in The Big Society wrapping paper. Most saw that really, and only the reforms with lets give “pseudo private businesses” the taxes we’ve taken from the people were supported. Cameron like Blair has simply kept the status quo continuing. Closing down the State? That has never been Dave’s agenda.

  14. Mr Webb – the Civil Service would refuse to act in line with an Act of Parliament? For example still carry on collecting income tax even if Parliament abolished it?

    Finally I have met someone with a more gloomy view of the world than me.

    I still think you are wrong (although you may be right). But it is astonishing to meet (even electronically) someone who takes an even darker view of the world than I do.

    i continue to think that getting a decent Parliament (a House of Commons made up of people like Steve Baker) is the problem.

    Not a little problem – but not as bad as even-Parliament-said…..they-would-just-ignore-Parliamen-anyway.

  15. Unfortunately, statutes are ignored by the government when it feels like it – can you explain why HMRC levies fines, and do so with reference to the Bill of Rights 1688? Or why it is impossible to get a licence to own firearms to defend yourself, with reference to the same Act? With parliamentary officials refusing to allow bills to be presented that have not been OK’d by the Crown first, officials able to go-slow on an agenda they don’t like, and the courts able to give radically different interpretations to it – it is not the case that the House of Commons controls the state. It doesn’t. It couldn’t do. There are 60m people in this country – and the MPs cannot possibly control the country on the ground. Can you explain, Paul Marks, why the government has announced a public-sector wage freeze and the public-sector salaries carry on going up? Without reviewing every single spending decision, Osborne is struggling to force the civil service to play ball.

    • I missed Mr Webbs’s question – how do I explain why government wages are still going up?

      Because no Act of Parliament has been passed saying they will not.

      The statements of government ministers (unbacked by formal Acts of Parliament) are just dogs barking in the night.

  16. IANAL, but so far as I understand it, the problem with the Bill Of Rights et al isn’t that the government “ignores” it. It’s that under our later-takes-precedence system, any law that contradicts an earlier one simply repeals it. So these grand documents like Magna Carta and the Bill Of Rights have no power; they have been simply repealed, piecemeal, by subsequent acts of Parliament.

    This is why the only effective Constitution or Bill Of Rights is one that is held to be above the normal legislative process on a “higher plane”, as in the USA. Of course, even that is less useful than it might be since (a) they can be amended and (b) they can be reinterpreted, as in the ludicrous judges-in-clown-shoes reinterpretations of the Interstate Commerce Clause, or their remarkable discovery that the First Amendment has qualifications dividing speech into “protected” and “not protected”, which must be written in invisible ink that only Supreme Court judges can see.

    Anway, our Bill Of Rights has no effective power to restrain parliament at all.

  17. john warren

    I think the point being raised by David is that both government and judiciary pick and chose which bits of the law that want to apply in any given situation. They do sometimes refer back to common law and bills of right (or wrong) when it suits.

    Ian’s got it right when he says that with or without a written constitution the rules change has they go along. But I’m not certain how much it matters really. When it comes right down to it, those in charge do what the hell they like.

    A few years ago, I was involved in litigation when taking action against a German company in Germany.

    Several Judges were on the bench – which is the way it works over there and I’m all for that – anyway, the hearing lasted all day and the ruling was that the matter be sent a higher court. Moving to a higher court in Germany means re-briefing a new set of lawyers and also paying out a percentage of the claim asked for. So it was all becoming very expensive and was annoying because the case could have easily been settled at the hearing (the evidence against the company was very strong).

    My own legal team had earlier warned it might happen because moving to another jurisdiction would be far moe expensive and awkward for me. (I was playing away from home was a term I heard from lawyers several times). The defence team knew all about that of course.

    Cutting the thing short and the point I’m trying to make is, that later on the same day, when talking with my daughter, she calmly said it didn’t seem fair that the Judges were allowed to be friends of the defendant. I asked her what she meant by that. She’d apparently photographed the Judge himself and one of the other men sitting on the bench, and the defendant himself, all climb into a car in order to pop off together, we assumed, for lunch.

    I mentioned it to my German lawyer the following day who simply shook his head saying it was wrong but that’s how things work sometimes. Bloody hell, I thought.

    I’ve had similar experiences in UK courts. Even in high profile cases the powers that be do what they want to do. That is the truth of the situation. The wider public just doesn’t seem to care much anymore.

    Go ahead with the novel David and make it an all-action, bullets and guts affair. Show the rubble of the Palace of Westminster lying at the bottom of the Thames. The face of broken Big Ben. Show another, smaller and more austere version, rising from a field near Milton Keynes.

  18. djwebb2010

    No, Ian B, you don’t understand the situation at all. It was previously said that a later law always overrode an earlier law, but when the 1985 Weights and Measures Act, which allowed trading in pounds as well as kilos, was seen to have contradicted the 1972 European Communities Act – Lord Justice Lawes in the Court of Appeal ruled that certain “constitutional” acts could only be repealed by express language, and could not be “impliedly” repealed. This meant that those provisions of the 1985 Act was null and void because it didn’t specifically say it was repealing the 1972 Act. The same judgement listed many constitutional acts that could not be impliedly repealed, including the 1688 Bill of Rights, the Act of Union, the Act of Succession, and even the Human Rights Acts! The whole of the Bill of Rights remains unamended according to that judgement.

    Now the courts were then faced with a parking fines case, because fines may not be handed down by extra-judicial bodies according to the 1688 Act – this was a byproduct of Lawes’ weights and measures ruling. He decided that parking fines are not fines but “civil responsibilities” in 2 minutes hearing that resorted to casuistry to wriggle off the hook he had created.

  19. djwebb2010

    Magna Carta was not an Act of Parliament…

  20. Edward Lud

    Reminds me of Baron Corvo’s magnum opus, Hadrian VII.

  21. Edward Spalton

    The European Communities Act itself relies heavily on the doctrine of Implied Repeal – of things like Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.
    If one had a million or two to spare, it would be an interesting case but I guess that the “Supreme Court” would find a way of subverting or circumventing Lord Justice Lawes ruling.

  22. not without breaking the law they couldn’t he was only repeating the law as it is

  23. john warren

    But that’s precisely the point Albert, they (the Judges) do from time to time wilfully ‘adjust’ laws, or at least the spirit of them. Anyone who believes otherwise hasn’t used the British legal system too many times.

    Judges cannot be sacked no matter how many bad calls they make, not by anyone, and they know it. If a litigant owns a genuine complaint against a bad call, he’s sometimes advised (not always – his legal team will know the nature of the obstacles he faces and advise accordingly. I’ve known one or two good lawyers by the way) to appeal against whatever judgement it is he feels he’s been abused by.

    The Appeal route to a higher Court is often the only way real justice can be realised; that’s why we see so many appeals these days. It’s all part of a system manipulated and tolerated in order to make money for lawyers.

    Just like it’s becoming now for doctors ‘trading’ within the NHS. But that’s a different and more novel novel.

  24. A thought I just had.

    It’s a feature of some legal systems (used to be, in ours) that juries had to be approved by both legal teams and jurors could be refused by them. Maybe we ought to apply that to judges.

    “No, we refuse to have this guy decide on this case. Offer us another one.”

    Which is weakly anarcho-capitalist, in a way.

  25. And also, yes, I hope David’s going to deliver us a rip-roaring tale.

  26. Edward Spalton

    Ian B
    It is some years since I was a juror. The defence could then challenge two jurors without giving reason. It was said that the thing to do was to wear a regimental tie, a smart suit and have a copy of the Daily Telegraph under your arm if you wanted to get off service.

    In America, they actually have jury consultants who are allowed to question jurors and then object if their background or beliefs might be prejudicial to their client. Many years ago I heard one on a TV programme giving an account of his experience in the Deep South. Each juror was asked in turn what they thought of the defendant. Each said, more or less “I reckon he done it and he deserves the chair”. At the end he asked the judge to dismiss them all . The judge thought a bit, looked at the jurors and said “But you can be fair, boys, cain’t you?” “Sure Judge” they said.
    “Request denied”.

    Then there was the famous case of the Irish jury which delivered a perverse not guilty verdict in the face of overwhelming evidence. Before dismissing them, the judge addressed the foreman saying “I am not allowed to enquire into the secrets of the jury room but, in a word, for the sake of posterity, can you give a hint as to how you arrived at this verdict?”
    “Insanity, Your Honour” replied the foreman
    “What, all of you?” replied His Honour.

  27. I suspect that Bracton was the last major writer on English law not to be mislead by this Act of Parliament thing (i.e. the idea that the High Court of the Monarch in Parliament “makes law”), However, what Mr Webb is saying (and there is some evidence for his point of view) is that wwe have gone beyond even this perversion – that even if Parliament said “this evil thing is not law” the courts and Civil Service would continue to act as it was.

    One example that springs to mind is the resistance of the courts to the end of restrictions on “engrossing and forestalling”.

    As Edmund Burke pointed out (when he had the Acts of Parliament making “engrossing or forestalling” a crime, repealed) this is just another name for the wholesale trade – it is demented to try and BAN “engrossing”or “forestalling” (modern examples would be “anti trust” or “fair trading” – which seek to put everything under the arbitrary power of the state).

    People going back to the philosophy Thales (and, no doubt, long before) have engaged in such “speculation”- and there is nothing criminal in it – but the courts did not agree.

    Following the ideology of the “just price” and “fair trading” (going back to the first Holy Roman Emperor Charles-the-Great and, in turn to the old LATE Roman Empire) the courts tried to enforce a ban on “engrossing and forestalling” well into the 19th century – with people being dragged into court to be punished for normal business activity. A formal Act of Parliament had to be passed to stop the courts enforcing “law” that did not exist.

    I think what Mr Webb is saying is, for example, if Parliament formally repealed all the Acts of Parliament about “fair trading” and “monoplies” (and whatever) the courts woudl still behave as if there was “law” beyond Common Law non-aggression.

    Indeed if Parliament formally ordered the courts to STOP DOING THIS the courts (and the bureacracy – such as the “monopilies and mergers commission” or whatever) would just carry on…..

    Common Law is not about such things – Common Law is about “did he hit you over the head?” (criminal law) and “did he cheat you by claiming the lead bar he sold you was made of gold?” (civil law), It is not about “the just price is different from the price you agreed to pay”(the clash between the law of Charles the Great – and, for example, the law of the Bavarians where a “just price” just meant a voluntarily agreed price) or “there should be a certain number of sellers in this market”.

    But the judges (and civil servants) may not agree.

  28. djwebb2010

    Unfortunately, an Act of Parliament to set public sector salary increases to zero would have no more effect than government general policy to that effect. Because it is obvious that the overall figure for public-sector salaries is just the mathematical sum of millions of separate decisions. Every single promotion cannot be reviewed by the Cabinet. Ultimately, the civil service can scupper government policy, whether in Acts of Parliament or not – the judges decision to give pensions to part-time judges was a spendign commitment ordered from the judicial bench. The ability to “interpret” laws means that anything Parliament says can be interpreted in other ways – including striking down Acts that are incompatible with the EU and Human Rights Acts etc. The Establishment remains in the driving seat – and so statutes don’t get as far as the Statute Book that would threaten the Establishment. Only in a truly different environment would we see how the establishment fought back when they weren’t in charge of the policy-making agenda. Sean Gabb’s book Cultural Revolution was right – you need to shut down as much of the state as possible, to deprive these people of the resources with which to attack the reduction of the state.

  29. You present your case well Mr Webb – and have some facts to back you up. But I am not convinced that Acts of Parliament would make no fundemental difference (government officials can not all be promoted to the top jobs – there are only a few of them).

    By the way even in our most violent arguments (when we thinking of every bit of abuse to throw at each other) I have never accused Sean Gabb of wanting to use violent revolution to reduce the state.

    I have always asumed that Sean Gabb wants to shut down the BBC by cutting off its funding (the so called “License Fee”) by Act of Parliament – not by sending in the tanks.

    I still believe that Sean Gabb belives that things should be done by Acts of Parliament (not fighting in the streets).

    The question is ……….

    How do we get a Parliament where Steve Baker, Douglas Carswell (and others) are the norm – not the exception?

    I do not know.

  30. john warren

    Shutting down the machinery of any state is difficult. To shut down the British state, with all the time it’s had to erect defensive walls and fences, will need men, young men, out in front and on the barricades too. It would be nice if the enemy would agree to be voted from power, root and branch – but that will not and cannot happen and don’t we all know it?

    In my view, a friend seen to be an enemy will save our children’s future. Provided we’ve all laid down the tools they’ll need before starting the job. They’ll need a leader. Perhaps David might tell us who that might be – or at least, from where he might come?

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