Next week, all eleven judges at the Supreme Court will hear the appeal by the Government against an earlier judgment that they could not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without reference to Parliament. The key argument in favour can be simply put.
What's so f***ing wrong with putting the boot into the judiciary, c***? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
As FullFact has told, this is “When parliament has incorporated international rights into domestic law, ‘prerogative powers cannot lawfully be used on the international plane to destroy the rights recognised by parliament as part of domestic law’ … Only parliament can take away the rights that parliament created in the [European Communities Act 1972]”.
The matter before the judges is a straightforward one, and involves nothing more or less than interpreting the law of the land. But for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail, this is a straightforward case of that court frustrating his will, and to frustrate his will cannot be tolerated.
So today the Mail has turned its guns on the Supreme Court, in yet another vicious - and needless - attack on the independence of the judiciary, inferring bias, complaining about lack of accountability, and suggesting that, should the court’s decision not be in accordance with the Vagina Monologue’s wishes, it would result in a constitutional crisis.
The central thrust of the assault is an article titled “The judges and the people: Next week, 11 unaccountable individuals will consider a case that could help thwart the will of the majority on Brexit. The Mail makes no apology for revealing their views - and many have links to Europe”. The name on the by-line, Guy Adams, means it’s a hatchet job.
Adams also has his name on “The children of privilege who loathe the system that gave them every advantage: The truth about the (white) Black Lives Matter protesters who closed London City airport... and why you'll want to protest against THEM”, “Did a computer reading a doom-laden Brexit report in the FT trigger a 'flash crash' of the pound?” (QTWTAIN), and “A VIP visit, a mystery burglary of five laptops and a tantalising question: Did China's spies steal the secrets of this British invention?” (Ditto).
The Supreme Court judges are smeared one by one. Lord Neuberger “has expressed views that betray an empathy with EU legal institutions”. Lady Hale “recently backed a European Court of Human Rights ruling over votes for prisoners”. Lord Mance “Began his career at a Hamburg law firm in the early Sixties, and has retained intimate links with the European legal establishment ever since”. You get the idea.
Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore “approves of the incorporation of EU law into British justice … he championed the Human Rights Act”. Lord Reed “spent a big portion of his adult life working for European institutions”. Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill is a “committed environmentalist, he has frequently used EU laws to support this agenda”.
Readers are told “How judges are chosen in secret”. Seven sample judgments are discussed, to show how rubbish the judges are at implementing the will of the Vagina Monologue, under the not at all prejudicial heading “Backing a terror suspect and criminal migrants - how judges have been over-ruling Ministers … There have been many cases in recent years of British judges over-ruling decisions made by elected politicians”.
The judges’ family members are included in the smears. House prices are bandied about. We read that “the Supreme Court is 91 per cent male and 100 per cent white. The average age of members is 68. Nine went to public school and eight attended Oxbridge”. The Mail’s 68-year-old white male editor sent both his sons to Eton, not that anything should be inferred from that.
We also get the Mail’s front page lead, under the routinely misleading headline “EXCLUSIVE: Why the judges got it so wrong: Government referendum appeal will say they turned the Brexit vote into a 'FOOTNOTE' as law chief issues blistering warning”. The clear suggestion is that Attorney General Jeremy Wright is right, while all those judges of whom the Mail disapproves are wrong, a most fortunate coincidence.
But all that the article does is to outline the kinds of arguments likely to be made by the Government next week, and in doing so lets slip that their case is a weak one at best. The judgment that is now being appealed did not “relegate” anything. It was concerned only with interpreting the law; this it did. If the Mail’s sight of Wright’s arguments is genuine, there is only going to be one outcome next week - the Government will lose.
That thought is not allowed to enter at the Mail, though, where the assault is backed up by a suitably thundering Daily Mail Comment, where we hear the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue. The headline, “Why the free Press must shine a light on this unelected court”, from an unelected and unaccountable editor, tells you all you need to know.
Reality goes out the window as readers are told “All hell broke loose when this paper published the headline ‘Enemies of the People’ beneath pictures of the three High Court judges who ruled that the decision of 17.4million voters in the EU referendum was not enough to trigger Brexit”. They made no such ruling. And there’s more.
“In an outburst of hysteria, Remainers took to Twitter and other media to accuse the Mail of undermining the judiciary”. If there was any hysteria, the Mail was generating it, and was indeed seeking to undermine the judiciary, as it is doing again today. But do go on.
“Like it or not, therefore, the 11 Supreme Court judges are faced with a highly political decision … With no written constitution to guide them, this is not a mere question of law” (afraid it is, Paul. Wrong again) …Yet this is precisely the spirit in which the High Court tried to approach the case, citing pre-Civil War precedents and ignoring the fact that the June referendum was an unprecedented historic event”. So what?
The judges were - for the umpteenth time - concerned with interpreting the law. This they did, and will do again next week. That does not stop the threats: “This paper prays that the Supreme Court will not make the same mistake. But who could fail to have doubts? … the risk is that the judges may be influenced by their personal opinions, no matter how assiduously they try to set them aside … To be absolutely clear, this paper does not for a moment question the judges’ integrity or intelligence … We just believe that on political matters, it is no more possible for them than for anyone else to be perfectly neutral”.
Freely translated, that legitimises the Mail’s assault on the judiciary. It’s OK, by Dacre’s perverted logic, to set his attack dogs digging up every detail of the judges’ personal lives and those of their immediate and extended families. And the bullying does not stop there.
The editorial, disturbingly, continues “And this surely is the nub: human rights laws are so broadly phrased that they allow judges considerable leeway to interpret them, often at the expense of the government of the day … In this sense they have become judicial activists. Which is all very well, but they cannot then complain when their decisions are questioned and their backgrounds and views are analysed”. Activist judges once again, another smear for which the Mail will pony up no evidence, as it has none.
Threats and monstering are justified by the usual get-out clause: “That is why it is so essential for a free Press to subject judges - no less than politicians, civil servants or archbishops - to the scrutiny they would otherwise escape”. The freedom of the Vagina Monologue to rifle through dustbins, doorstep victims, send snappers to case their joints, harass their friends, have them followed, and then smeared in the Daily Mail.
Dacre ends with a supreme slice of delusion: “Though Remainers and the Left may hurl abuse at us, this paper, for one, will always take seriously our role as the Champions of the People”. What kinds of champions that would be can be easily illustrated.
Radio and TV host James O’Brien has summed it up succinctly: “Daily Mail & 'democracy': Ad hominem attacks on independent judges = front page. Conviction of terrorist for murdering elected MP = page 30”. As Winshton might have put it, “Shome Championsh … Shome Freedom”.