Running Commentary: Equality before the law
The “rule of law” is one of those phrases that is tossed around freely by those who seek to maintain the status quo. It sums up the idea of everyone being equal before the law while no-one should be above the law. So one might have assumed that someone, apparently guilty of the crime of giving away £70 billion of “public” money illegally, would find the wrath of the judiciary descending pretty quickly. Not so, or at least not if you are the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Towards the end of last year, Nicholas Ridley, the environment minister, was forced to admit to Parliament that he and his predecessors had, strictly speaking, been acting unlawfully since 1981 in distributing £70 billion in rate support grant to local authorities. Of course when a member of the government breaks the law there’s no real problem you simply change the law. which is what the government now intends to do by rushing a bill through Parliament which will retrospectively legalise what they’ve been doing for the last five years. Or, as Ridley put it: “It is merely validating the past and putting right for the future the position which the whole House thought always obtained”. So much for the “rule of law”. Clearly some people are more equal than others if they can change the law to “validate” in retrospect what was previously illegal.
It is hugely reassuring to have it, from so reliable a source, that there is this direct vocal link between God and Greater Manchester’s Chief Constable. Apart from the advantages this will give him in the afterlife, it enables James Anderton to speak authoritatively on worrisome issues like sex, drug addiction and AIDS.
The fact that their Chief is divinely inspired and informed may go some way to explain the activities of the police in Manchester. Unless we knew that it was with God’s approval, we might have written them off, too hastily, as a uniformed rabble of incontinently violent and repressive thugs. But now we know better, don’t we?
The real drawback with men like Anderton is that they offer themselves as caricatures, larger than life, to absorb the indignation against police excesses which should rightly be directed at the root of the problem.
Hating — and fearing — the Andertons (and who could possibly be fond of, or at ease with, them?) can lead to the conclusion that we need a police force purged of such ogres. While it is advisable to be especially wary of anyone at his level of authority who is insulated from reality by dangerous delusions, the cool fact is that we do not eradicate the problem by substituting Chief Constables with rather different priorities and opinions about their terms of reference.
The police are not there to be kind, understanding or protective towards us. Their job is to sustain class society and its privileges. A police force can no more be democratic than can a gang of criminals; both must operate in subterfuge, neither can be meticulous about respecting the rules if they can get to their objective more quickly by breaking them.
Privilege, power and secrecy are components of corruption so it is little wonder that, as we are occasionally allowed to see by courtesy of something like Operation Countryman, the police should so often be corrupt and lawless.
It is bad enough to live in a social system which needs a police force; even worse when the police themselves operate outside the law they are supposed to uphold; worst of all when the motivation of the police management is open to question. Beyond these facts, and of greater importance, it remains true that the only solution is in a society which will not have police, because the property rights they guard will not exist.
Swing to, swing fro
A village in Yorkshire
should be voluntary, without wages or salaries, so that whatever a person could manage to contribute to the life in the way of work, whether emptying dustbins or doing accounts, would not be valued by money but would be accepted as their full contribution to the community life, and all their needs should be met from the community, irrespective of their work output.
When I used to make roads with Wimpeys 1 did it for the money, the job was the way to the money. Now I make a road because it’s needed. 1 know who I’m making the road for, it’s my road and I care a lot about it. I want the people who use it to feel it was built with love and care.
It’s often a problem when a visitor asks to speak to the manager — a request that always leads to a look of total puzzlement . . . The village is run by groups rather than the conventional director and underlings. There are many groups dealing with, for example, finances, the cultural life, the land, the reception of people into the village, production, and so on. Almost everyone is involved in a group. . .
The villages are witness to another important fact. People who, through their handicap. are unable to cope and are considered a burden on society in a competitive environment are finding that, with these pressures removed, they are able to lead useful and fulfilling lives.
The essential core of Botton is the family life in the houses . . . There are no separate staff quarters . . . Each house is individual, there is no centralisation so the character of a house often depends on the houseparents (who) are of many nationalities, so you can imagine the differences. With so many diverse houses of different character it always seems possible to find a lifestyle to suit a particular person’s needs.
CP death throes