Friday, September 30, 2005

Soviet-quality justice for Britain? 

My relatives in the 'Former Soviet Union' will be gratingly familiar with the style of justice New Labour is importing to Britain. The "Peoples' Courts of the USSR", the lower level courts, did not necessarily work to laws as such but to 'principles of Socialist Justice'. Condemnation by opinion and administrative convenience was a real possibility, without proper hearings and representation. Apparently Blair wants Instant Asbos, granted to the police without evidence or witnesses having to be heard or the defendant informed. Bans and restrictions would remain in place until a full court hearing. And much more.

Blair in his conference speech said:
"I don't think that the traditional law can give law-abiding people adequate
protection. We are trying to fight 21st-century crime - antisocial behaviour,
drug-dealing, binge drinking, organised crime - with 19th-century methods as if
we still lived in the time of Dickens"
Er actually all these crimes rampantly existed in Dicken's Britain, and in the 20th Century USSR to boot, where the New Labour paradise of almost unfettered police discretions didn't work either.

Tackling these evils in ex-USSR countries after the emergence of the successor states meant bringing in a respect for the rule of law, proper legal proceedures and respect for peoples rights (including the very foreign notion of innocence until proof of guilt). It was, and sometimes still is, hard work to undo the 'super-ASBO approach' mindset lingering in these countries.

'Alice in Wonderland' was an explosive political commentary in Soviet days - 'sentence first, verdict afterwards' rang out as thrilling social comment. Will Blair now include 'Alice' in the corpus of banned tracts 'inciting terrorism'?

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