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About me

The trouble with Attorneys General


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 12 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 12 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 12 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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 1,076th post was filed under: Politics.

Some recently published posts

The Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels: eight years on / January 2020, 8 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / January 2020, 7 minutes long

Faber Stories / December 2019, 4 minutes long

My favourite books of 2016 / December 2019, 26 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / December 2019, 12 minutes long

Some random old posts

Review: Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer / September 2012, 2 minutes long

Party Websites / February 2005, 1 minute long

Andrew Marr: My Trade / June 2005, 3 minutes long

Insanity / November 2003, 2 minutes long

Minister thinks Government is unethical / October 2007, 1 minute long

Times Crossword Club / February 2005, Less than a minute long

Comments and responses

Comment from barnacle_bill

by barnacle_bill

Comment posted at 22:57 on 5th March 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)

by sjhoward

Comment posted at 23:26 on 5th March 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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