What a difference two and a half years makes: back in early 2017, the loathsome Toby Young was all in favour of the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court. Now, he has joined the rabble of mischief-makers suggesting that the body should not hand down decisions that do not meet with his approval. And that if those decisions are “political” - he being the sole judge on that criterion - they should not be made at all.
This resurgence of interest in legal matters has surprised those who were previously unaware of Tobes’ prowess in that area, mainly because he has never exhibited any. But such was his dismay that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision did not go the way he wanted, he very quickly became an expert in legal matters. Or maybe not.
So it was that January 2017’s “As someone who voted Leave, I believe in sovereignty of Parliament so I welcome [the Supreme Court] decision” had, by yesterday, morphed into “The decision of the Supreme Court fundamentally alters the balance of power in our constitution in favour of the judiciary. If we’re going to have a US-style Supreme Court from now on, SC Justices will need to be appointed by the PM and there will have to be confirmation hearings”. The problem with this observation is that it was wrong.
There was no alteration of the balance of power in the constitution: all that the Supreme Court did was to affirm that Parliament is Sovereign. Thus the existing balance was confirmed. Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, relieved that Tobes got published elsewhere during his tenure, responded “It was 11-0 Toby. Read some law books”.
Tobes wasn’t having any of that nonsense. “The High Court ruled that prorogation was a political matter and therefore not a matter for the courts, Alan. Do you think those judges haven’t read any law books?” Well, anyone who had read some law books would know that the High Court can be overruled on appeal by the Supreme Court. And it was.
Lady Hale stated at the outset that the eleven Supreme Court justices were agreed that the matter before them was justiceable, which had also been the view of the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, the Secret Barrister had picked up on the latest Tobes trash, noting “‘If judges won’t make decisions that I agree with, they should be replaced with judges who will.’ Look out for this. It’s rife”. What say Tobes?
He has a masterstroke to pull! “More like, ‘If judges are going to make political decisions, they should be accountable to the people.’” Except that all the Judges were being asked to rule on was a point of law. It’s only “political” by Tobes claiming thus.
This straightforward point had eluded The Great Man, and so off he went once more. “The Supreme Court decision isn’t a case of judges upholding the rule of law. It’s the law being used to introduce the rule of judges”. Wrong again, Tobes. Read the judgment. In the meantime, the Secret Barrister was running short of patience with Tobes’ wilfulness.
Hence the brutal but eminently fair conclusion “In a crowded field of stupid takes by people who have never previously demonstrated any interest in or aptitude for constitutional law, this tantrum is a market leader”. Toby Young has secured his place in the legal pantheon.
Market leading stupidity. He’s called Captain Bellend. Because he’s a bellend.
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