02 March 2009

The Court of Public Opinion

As if to prove that the adage that hard cases make bad law also applies to government policy, Harriet Harman has waded into the debate surrounding Fred Goodwin's pension with this gem [1]:

"it might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that is where the government steps in."

Of course it's disgusting that the government think they can sweep aside the rule of law when it gets in the way of their objectives, but what I find even more annoying is the bare-faced hypocrisy. If the court of public opinion says that it is unacceptable for Fred Goodwin to claim his pension, then according to the government, the court of public opinion must be obeyed. On the other hand, if the court of public opinion says that it is unacceptable for MPs to claim lavish expenses for dubious reasons, the court of public opinion is dismissed.

If legal entitlement is a good enough defence for the political hierarchy, then, like it or not, it should be good enough for Fred Goodwin too.

Just to make the situation worse, Jacqui Smith has waded in with[2]:

"There is complete cabinet agreement that there can not be rewards for failure in the banking system or any other part of the business system."

Clearly that doesn't apply to the government, where a financial penalty for failure would be unthinkable.

Charlie Brooker has written a very timely piece about the contempt with which politicians view the electorate[3] and The Daily Mash has taken the opportunity to deliver some excellent satire[4][5].


1.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7917361.stm

2.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7918573.stm

3.http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/02/charlie-brooker-politicians

4.http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/science-%26-technology/'obscene'-gravity-must-be-repealed%2c-says-harman-200903021611/

5.http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/politics/politics-headlines/brown-refuses-to-hand-back-pension-200902271606/

1 comment:

Town Court Listng said...

Interesting site... what are your opinions of the Courts in the US?