Postcard from The Staterooms-On-Sea

Dear Reader,

This is my last weekend Postcard from the Staterooms-On-Sea.  I leave Chatham Maritime on the Medway for London next week; returning to live in Battersea, right on the river opposite the boat I used to live on at Cheyne Walk.  This is not a permanent return.  I feel like a Tuareg, moving my tent and furniture about every six months or so.  I rather like the idea of being able to move about the country and pitch my tent metaphorically in different places.  I have enjoyed my time in kent – but I need a bit more of a social life. The apartment is right on the river overlooking the Thames to Chelsea and about 50 years from the very pleasant Battersea Square. (Right)

I’ve just finished reading a fascinating transcript of an interview with David Cameron by John Sopel of the BBC on The Politics Show. It is quite extraordinary, barely months before the election, that Cam & Dec haven’t got their act together on the specifics of the cuts they are going to impose. Save for those who will vote Tory come what may, how are other voters going to make an informed decision unless they are given details.  Cameron waffled badly in this interview, allowing Sopel to plunge the toasting fork into Cameron’s buttocks several times.  It was like the scene in Tom Brown’s Schooldays when Flashman toasted the young Tom Brown in front of the fire.

Here are a few of the Sopel questions. The answers are worth reading…

I’m sorry to interrupt you, I just want to interrupt you on that because is it that you haven’t identified what the year one cuts will be and therefore can’t tell us, or that you have identified them but now is not the time to tell us?

I want to rattle through some of the specifics where you have pledged, I just want to check that those specifics are still in place, for example on inheritance tax even though there are only a couple of thousand estates, a few thousand people would be affected by it, that commitment, policy commitment remains?

No going back on that one?

And now I want to go to where I think there are, really ambiguity is a good word to use for it. What about recognising tax, recognising marriage in the tax system? Where are you on that because this is going into a right mess at the beginning of the year?

You’ve had two years to work out the answer to that. You launched something and then it kind of all collapsed.

I’m not asking for the detail of everything but for, you’ve had four years to work this one out and you haven’t worked it out.

And then Cameron launched into his ‘Kill a Burglar ‘ speech and made the remarkable statement that burglars leave their human rights at the door. I’m astonished that a prime minister in waiting can make such a statement.

Well we think that the, the proposal has been put forward which is to say that unless the action you take as a homeowner is grossly disproportionate, so you’re raising the bar effectively, that that will be a good step forward. Now if you can find a different –

How have you turned that into law because –

Well I’ve given you two words – grossly disproportionate. That’s –

You can use proportionate force, you just can’t use grossly disproportionate force?

Oh dear… Cameron is not very good at thinking on his feet, it would seem and his side-kick Osbore doesn’t seem to be good at thinking at all.

Interestingly… this from Tweetminster at 6.15 pm this evening:

tweetminster Sentiment (on Twitter) around David Cameron has dropped following Politics Show (& the resulting coverage)

Having re-read this grilling of Cameron by Sopel – irrespective of the fact that i am supposed to be ‘socialist’… Cameron worries me. Nothing seems to be structured, coherent, thought out.  This is not really good enough for a prospective prime minister who has had some years to work things out.  Waffle just doesn’t cut it in tutorials with first year students… it certainly doesn’t when it comes to policy statements from a man who puts himself forward as the next prime minister.  Kenneth Clarke?  too late for a Conservative leadership challenge?

AND THIS IS THE KILLER QUESTION FROM SOPEL… Very clever as it reveals that Cameron has no understanding whatsoever of International Law, the ICC or what Chilcot is about… tragic… and I am sure that Sopel must have thought very carefully about that question…

Yeah, do you understand why some people say Tony Blair ought to be tried for war crimes?

Well I don’t, I don’t think it’s come to that. He’s, he’s giving an account of himself as we are speaking right now. I haven’t been able to see that. Let’s let Chilcot do his work and do his report, and then I think we can make more of a judgment.

This is rather worrying?

The Law Society gazette ran an astonishing story this week:

Website for blacklisted solicitors plans expansion

While I am n favour of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority publishing reports of disciplinary proceedings taken against solicitors – I am not so sure the Solicitorsfromhell site is an altogether fair way of dealing with complaints. Quite apart from possible issues of libel and unfairness (the owner of the site says he has been threatened with libel by solicitors) – it is not an analytical or objective forum.  The site does not appear to permit of a dissent or an alternative viewpoint under each listing post.  Mr Kordowski has this notice on the front page of his website:

Note to Solicitors and Firms:

An internet directory or search engine (such as this) is NOT a publisher at common law, just a facilitator.
As held by Mr Justice Eady on July 19 2009.

The Law Society Gazette reports: ” allows visitors to post complaints about law firms and individual solicitors. The postings appear on Google within 24 hours. Kordowski said that he set the website up because he was ‘shocked’ about the number of complaints made about solicitors. He maintained that he is carrying out a public service that is also of benefit to the ­profession. Law firms can pay £299 to have all current and future traces of their name removed from the site. Alternatively, they can pay between £99 and £199 to have specific postings deleted. Visitors are charged a fee for posting a complaint about a firm.” (Mr Kordowski says that visitors to the site are NOT charged a fee)

Gary Slapper, of the Open University (who is always worth reading in The Times) has a truly weird case this weekand I mean W E I R D

“In the film The Matrix, Keanu Reeves plays a character who moves in and out of the real world. He might have thought he was having a similar experience while defending a recent legal action in Canada. Reeves was sued by Karen Sala, a woman he said he had never met but who claimed that he had disguised himself as her husband and, over 25 years, fathered her four children.”

RollonFriday has a classic this week: Exclusive – Eversheds partner questions parent’s commitment
Eversheds has admitted that it had to carry out an investgation after one of its partners sent a email to a colleague wondering how to deal with an interviewee who had recently had a child.

Delighted to see that the Spacehijackers, who painted their armoured car in Police colours to attend the G20 protests last year, are not going to face charges. The CPS appears to have used the common sense test… “

A theatre group charged with impersonating police officers at the G20 protests are planning to sue the Metropolitan Police after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges.

Eleven protesters, billing themselves as the Space Hijackers and portraying themselves as the “laughing cavaliers of capitalism”, were arrested after they jumped out of an armoured vehicle at the Bishopsgate offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland during the demonstrations in London’s Square Mile on 1 April last year. They were charged with impersonating police but the case was dropped after four hearings after the CPS said it had received new information and no longer believed there was a realistic chance of a conviction.”

I accept that it is easy to indulge in a bit of ‘Police bashing’ – and sometimes, as the G20 police behaviour demonstrates, they deserve it – but this action on the part of the police was doomed to failure right from the start and just plain daft. I suspect a jury would have acquitted had it gone the full distance…. the CPS certainly thought so.

Guido Fawkes notes: Andy Murray Cursed (Again) Loses Open

“Back in July last year Andy Murray was cursed by Jonah Brown.  Earlier this week when Gordon wished Murray well against Federer many co-conspirators winced and commented that this was the kiss of death again.”

Another interesting week ahead for law news… I am planning to do some televised short voxpop interviews with members of the public about legal news stories when I return to London.  these will supplement the podcasts which I am already doing and, hopefully, be of interest in terms of seeing how mebers of the public regard our laws and the legal issues of our times.  We shall see how it goes!  (I shall, do not fear, be behind the camera)

Have a good week

Best as always


11 thoughts on “Postcard from The Staterooms-On-Sea

  1. I share your doubts. B****y good chaps, both of them, but is there any intellect and depth in either of them? And they may be running the country soon. God help us.

    I’m re-reading H. Montgomery Hyde’s biography of Stanley Baldwin. That Prime Minister was thought to be a bit on the slow side, but he was quick-witted intellectually.

    And W.E. Gladstone was another whose intellect was unsurpassed. Peel was also brilliant.

    Even Harold Macmillan – I couldn’t stand the man as I thought he was an awful fraud – was an intellectual and very well-read.

    I’m afraid that these two b****y good chaps, though educated in a manner of speaking, will be dogged not by Eton but by the waste of learning time, energy and money of the Bullingdon Club.

    BTW, I’m busy promoting Shaun Woodward as the next leader of the Labour Party. What’s your ‘take’ on that?

  2. Geoffrey… Bonsoir, as we say down here on The Medway…

    I am quite sure that Cam & Os are thoroughly nice people – but we do need a bit of intellect and experience as well. Brown, whatever one’s views about his policies, is clearly a clever man – and Blair (again, whatever one feels about his Iraq war) is a clever man and a supreme communicator.

    Osborne is young and has not really been forged in the crucible of finance, industry or, indeed, anywhere. Cvidenced by the recent ludicrous poster campaign and national sport of parodying it.

    They say that politicians grow into their roles… so, to be fair, it may be a different matter if the Tories do win.

    Shaun Woodward is very shrewd (and bright). I don’t know how he is viewed by the Labour MPs or apparatus – but he certainly has a wealth of knowledge, balance and experience.

    I think Miliband may have blown it… not overly convinced by him and, of course, there is a strong Anyone-but-Harriet lobby.

    How are your plans progressing? Maybe we should do another podcast before the election if you have time/feel you can do so?!

  3. “How are your plans progressing? Maybe we should do another podcast before the election if you have time/feel you can do so?”

    Pretty well, thanks. I’m picking up support in surprising places – Labour and Tory ‘strongholds’ – and I hope that the support will translate into actual votes.

    Another podcast nearer the date – say, early April – might be useful. Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. “He maintained that he is carrying out a public service that is also of benefit to the ­profession. Law firms can pay £299 to have all current and future traces of their name removed from the site.

    That’s what we call in the trade, “giving the game away”…

  5. Upon further reflection (in my bath, as it happens: a bath is a good place for reflecting), I think that we are both a bit unkind to all of today’s politicians.

    I mention Baldwin, Gladstone, Macmillan and Peel in my earlier posting. None of those had to do radio or TV interviews the contents of which are now round the world in seconds and open to ridicule from all and sundry. Maybe they said some daft things, too.

    Even in Mr Attlee’s time, communicating and communications were not as frantic as they are today. I’ll never forget some news film of Clem arriving home by air from somewhere. A reporter said, ‘Have you anything to say, Prime Minister?’

    Clem’s reply was, ‘No,’ whereupon he stalked orf! (In his best Haileybury style, of course).

  6. Pingback: A brief exchange on twitter – politics. « Charon QC

  7. Geoffrey – there is truth in what you say. Media today is not deferential to politicans… the mainstream media has to observe codes of politeness…. informal bloggers et al… don;’t always and perhaps we should.

    I try not to confuse the person with the politician. I don’t rate Brown as a PM or leader (many do / Many don’t) – but I am sure he is a very fine man away from politics.

    Mind you… Gilray, Rawlinson and Hogarth were not that friendly to our ‘masters’ regal and political!

    I wd rather have parody, harsh analysis of today than the ‘respectful forelock tugging of another era!’… as, I suspect, would you.

    As they say… if you can’t stand the heat.. get out of the kitchen… etc etc.

  8. i would say that the ‘burglars leave their human rights at the door’ as well as being classic tory pandering to the basest emotions (and if anyone thinks that is a bad idea let’s just examine where the groundsell of support came from… hope the tories are happy with that ghastly misshapen offspring of their own racism) strikes me as just yer average right wing view of human rights. fine for us and anyone we like and not for those of whom we disapprove. they are something to be earned and may be lost by virtue of our actions – whereas the contrary view is that they are ‘earned’ simply by being human. hence the name. i ascribe to the contrary.

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