Having a background as criminal defence barrister is useful for one thing; it means you put everything to the test.
Many say, how could you defend a person if you know he is guilty. I say, I don’t care if he is guilty; I am here to put the Crown to the test. Do they have the evidence to prove the case? That is it.
I examine all statistics, newspaper headlines, press releases and departmental statements and ministerial interviews in a similar way. I put it to the test.
Whenever I hear an announcement that says something is a ‘requirement’ or else X will happen I immediately ask myself, well can X really happen? There are usually two barriers to X happening – EU law and the Human Rights Act.
Remember British Jobs for British people? Laughable, a blatant breach of EU law. Never going to happen.
Yesterday we had ‘we are going to deport non-English speaking Muslim mothers who don’t speak English.’ Never going to happen – a breach probably of both EU law and the Human Rights Act.
Or, in the same announcement, that Cameron will ‘back’ any institution that wants a Muslim women to remove her veil. Well that is nice and all, Nice but Dim, but we live in a democracy and even though you are Prime Minister you don’t get to just dictate and choose a side in such a dispute.
A dispute like that would have to go to court, and the Equality Act probably means the woman could claim discrimination. To ‘back’ the institution you would have to pass an actual law. You know legislation, and not just emote on the Today programme. But then that requires hard questions to be asked and solutions to be found.
Note, if you will, that I am not even at the stage of determining if I want this requirement to be enforceable. I am just looking at whether it is legally possible, and it usually is not.
There are not doubt legions of such examples that our distinguished readers, experienced in business and economics etc, who be aware of. But I hope this is a useful blog to keep in mind.
(Image Courtesy amaianos, Flickr)