I write from The Bollo, Silk Cut lit, a glass of Rioja to my right, on this last day of legal smoking in enclosed public spaces.
The rain continues to fall and I have decided to spend my afternoon writing and catching up on the events of the week. And what a remarkable week it was.
First, we had Ruthie being interviewed on the Today programme about snobbery and exclusion at the Bar. Ruthie went to South Bank University, applied for pupillage, was told that she was competent to do pupillage but was rejected by Chambers because her university was not acceptable to Chambers – it would not fit with the ‘Chambers notepaper’. John Humphrys countered with the perfectly reasonable point that perhaps it was less a case of snobbery than a desire for Chambers to recruit the best from the best universities which, of course, include Oxford & Cambridge. It is difficult to counter such a point – although Ruthie did her best to. Listen to her interview with John Humphrys. Enjoyable interview. As a tribute to the good old days of the BBC… I wore a dinner jacket to listen to this wireless interview.
The practical reality is that there is a league table of universities, with Oxford & Cambridge at or near the top in pretty well every field of scholarship and research. Not unreasonably, recruiters to leading law firms and Chambers will seek to recruit from the top universities in preference to middle or lower order universities. That is the way of natural selection and competition.
Ruthie, however, has a point and it is this point which the legal profesion can do something about – if it is so minded. Many of those who are able to secure a place at a top order university come from privileged, middle class or wealthy backgrounds and have, more likely than not, enjoyed the very real benefit of private education. giving them a competitive advantage, over those less advantaged, in terms of getting into a top order university. The BBC covered this in an interesting news item.
The BBC reports than 70% of judges enjoyed the benefits of a private educationa t our leading public schools and 78% come from Oxford & Cambridge. I believe in competition but I also believe in socialism. The two are not, as some may feel, mutually exclusive. I shall return to this and the question of diversity and access – a theme I am working with others on in another guise.
And so… we have a new government of all the talents.
Cyclops, The Highwayman, Broon…whatever you care to call him, ascends to the role of Caesar: with no glowering Chancellor, or other power base, skulking in the sidelines to subvert, disrupt or be blackmailed by. Early days, but the inclusion of Admiral West as a Security Minister and retaining the services of the politically independent Lord Stephens is likely to prove a significant boon to bolster government in the field of security and counter terrorism. Less interested in the Business Council which is, to my eye, is a piece of ‘froth’. The government has always been in a position to draw on advice – presumably? Cameron is likely to be under some pressure now. The Independent, today, suggested that it was time for cameron ‘to do serious’ and give the ‘sunshine’ a bit of a rest. Osborne continues to be deluded into believing that The Tories will have a better chance of winning an election with Blair gone. The fact that Brown is unlikely to be a great orator at the Despatch Box may well prove to be a benefit. Do we see the beginnings of a return to government by Cabinet and power and prestige being returned to Parliament?
And now… that the Rioja is hitting the spot… to other matters…
First… advice from my brother Charon M.D.
Don’t urinate on a jelly fish sting. Urine has absolutely no effect on jelly fish stings and you will almost certainly find yourself getting some pretty strange looks from others nearby or receive unwelcome attention from the British Transport Police. Go immediately to a restaurant and ask for some vinegar. balsamic vinegar may also work, and you can order some bread and olive oil while you soothe your sting.
It came as no surprise to find that Charlie Falconer was dropped as Justice Minister and LC. Surprised only that he hung around waiting for the summons for directions – but as I am not privy to his thoughts or ways, I am not able to comment further. Jack Straw as LC without going into the Lords – a first working of the Constitutional Reform Act in this context… as a judge friend of mine pointed out to me. It was not, as it happens, necessary for him to do so – but he does enjoy giving me of his wisdom and on most occasions it is useful to receive it. Is the A-G role soon to be reviewed? is change in the wind, in terms of power?
And… if you would like to read an interesting review of Taking Liberties by Lawyer-2-be…here it is.
I had no idea it was the 200th anniversary of Garibaldi’s birthday. Thank God for The Independent for carrying this breaking news today.