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The trouble with Attorneys General

Attorney GeneralThe Attorney General is a government appointee. He attends Cabinet Meetings, and is a very political figure. Indeed, Lord Goldsmith is a Labour peer.

Simultaneously, the Attorney General has supervisory powers over prosecution. He is the chief legal advisor of the Crown. He (largely) calls the legal shots in this country.

Now, his two worlds have spectacularly collided, and this staunch Labour supporter is being asked to preside over the case of corruption within the Labour Party. If that’s not a major conflict of interest, I’m not sure what is. Yet he refuses to step aside and ‘butt out’ of this affair, despite the fact that any fool can see that him being involved is not in the interests of true Justice being done.

The Government continues to use the slightly meaningless defence that “it’s always been that way” – well, yes, but never have we seen corruption to the heart of the governing Party quite like we have at the moment. It’s a new situation, and as new situations arise our uncodified Constitution is able to adapt – this is, and always has been, its great strength. Its great weakness is the virtually unchecked power handed to the Government of the day, and perhaps this is something that needs to be reformed in the world of corrupt politics.

Lord Goldsmith will be the last Attorney General of his kind. This situation has destroyed the credibility of the office. I’m not sure why, but that just feels like a significant blow in the downfall of the Labour Party: A 730 year old office falls apart because of the corruption of one small group of people.

I’m not sure whether to be depressed at the erosion, or to celebrate the wonderful versatility that this country’s unique constitution provides. It’s probably not for me to judge. But it seems worthy of a mention.

This post was filed under: Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from barnacle_bill

    22.57, 05/03/2007

Yes it is a shame that a handful of less than honest people can cause the havoc they have.
But on a brighter note if it brings about a truly independent Attorney General, it might just be a blessing indisguise.
I think when all this has died down we need something like a Truth & Reconcilliation inquiry to sort out the whole political scene.
Something that will restore the public’s faith in to, what has up until now, been a relative successful democracy

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    23.26, 05/03/2007

Indeed – but the beauty of the British political system has surely always been the relative lack of checks and balances, and the fact that the Government can do virtually anything it likes. It is one of our country’s peculiar great strengths, and in many ways it will be sad to see it pass.

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