Unmasking the shady people who pay the Piper:

A close-up on why it takes so long in the Enquiring Committee Culture to get Justice.

Robert the Pious…sick-making

As a part-historian by training, I’m often fascinated by what future commentators will make of a particular era in which I’m living. But I suspect there won’t be too much arguing about the second ten years of the 21st century. Tomorrow’s historians will call these, our days of enquiries, The Denouement Decade: the changeover time when it finally dawned on the ordinary, depoliticised citizen that the wasters we pay to do stuff for us have forgotten the identity of their employers.

But for us now, living through it largely unaware of all that, the challenge is to work out why this denouement is taking so long to unfold.

The banking, media, political, judicial, legal, commercial and policing agencies up there where the air is rarified work for themselves and each other – not for the people who pay them sight deposits free, buy their products, give them votes, and hand them near-untrammelled power to catch and try criminals.

It’s the main reason why, for instance, the new collective noun for political investigation should surely be an infinity of Enquiries. Enquiries are not set up to hold people to account, but rather to hold up the process of prosecution until such time as the public loses interest. In the US and the UK since 2008, we have all sat, angrily bored, while umpteen committees and variously termed quasi-juries of incompetent investigators ask the Uberklass questions they expect, avoid, filibuster through, lie their way out of, and generally claim to have super-moral standpoints about  – “I am shocked/appalled/when I was told, I felt sick/this sort of behaviour is unacceptable in my company” – until all of us at home want to either (a) hurl the channel-changer at the screen or (b) hurl our dinner everywhere.

The most aggressive form of this How Very Dare You I’ve experienced so far was the senior UK former cop Andy Hayman, an associate of the multiple-resigner about nothing Andy Coulson who, when asked whether he had ever taken money from a journalist, went into a routine of Insulted Angel after the style of a tinpot soap character: “I mean, really, well. Good God. I mean…Mr Chairman, that question is totally out of order”. But the facts show that he has taken a large Murdoch shilling as a ‘crime reporter’, as a result of which not many crime reports have appeared.

There is no socio-judicial purpose whatsoever to the holding of enquiries where the interrogators are showboating, and the accused have no fear of the law’s wrath. It is nothing more than the wannabe famous in pursuit of the accidentally infamous. It is a sham about a scam,  a third-rate provincial chorus line trying to lasso a smoke-ring: but mainly, it represents the Establishment systematically felling trees in the road being trodden by weary and increasingly cynical seekers after justice.

The obvious intent of these gatherings is given away by the associated Freudian protesting of the linguistics. Mr Cameron will tell us he wants to be clear about the rigour, when he really wants to stir up the river-bed with vigour. A N Other Minister lays emphasis on the words ‘full judicial’ enquiry, as if there might be such a thing as a half-empty kangaroo Court. The enquiry billed as ‘invesigating without fear or favour’ lives in a world where the police investigate people and things for political reasons, fear doing the wrong things for their careers, and favour the rich and powerful.

But the idea is there for all to see once the committee gets under way, because everyone at the Dispatch Box or facing a Congressional Committee can say – when asked the 64 trillion dollar question – “I think it would be wrong for any of us to prejudice the enquiry currently looking into this matter”. This and this alone enabled the serial-shady character Jeremy Hunt to evade disgrace and keep his job when (for once) the media truly were focused on one vital fact: he had lied to the House of Commons.

These delaying tactics have, so far, been all that’s required to keep everyone important involved in Hackgate, Hunt Balls and the Libor Party out of jail – even out of a Court trial process. But that’s changing now. Andy Coulson will stand trial for perjury in Scotland (asuming they don’t make the Digger King Rupert I in the interim) and Rebekah Brooks will face criminal conspiracy charges. The second point of the ubiquitous Enquiry will thus come to the fore very soon: to act as a means of screwing up the trial process by claiming Inability to get a Fair Trial. It is only a matter of time.

When that time comes, the shock troops ambushing the knackered media and blogosphere detectives will be, to a man and woman, lawyers. Today, Britain is run – literally, in every sense – by lawyers: every new law is another pointless job created, and every badly-written piece of ill-judged legislation another task for those arguing the precedents this way and that. In our hospitals, the entire culture is driven at management level by a spineless fear of litigation, as are our workplaces and remaining factories – where the equally unproductive sign-writing sector of the economy is kept busy day and night churning out notices saying everything from ‘Warning – hot water’ to ‘May contain nuts’.

Media sales and legal marketers work hand in glove to encourage a culture of all blame and no responsibility – such that Daytime TV is nowadays a cavalcade of ‘no award, no fee’ mendacity masquerading as some kind of social service: “Have you driven your car pissed witless into a tree? We can help you sue the Council that put the tree there. No award, no fee, no tree”. And a week after the court case, along comes the sign writer to attach ‘Warning: tree present’ on that Oak dating back to 1635.

The obvious anti-social and culturally corrosive nature of this sort of advertising is one thing the overwhelming majority of citizens would like to see stopped tomorrow. Is it on the Parliamentary agenda? It is not. Why not? Because a disturbing proportion of MPs are lawyers. Compared to their incidence in the population, lawyers were 343% over-represented in the last New Labour controlled House of Commons; at Cabinet level, they were 3800% over-represented.

There are more lawyers per capita in the UK now than at any time in history: there is one lawyer per 401 people in Britain, and one per 265 people in the US. That puts Britain 4th in the global league table. The US has 50% of all the lawyers in the world, and Britain has 17 times as many lawyers per capita as Japan. Japan suffers 1.3 robberies per 100,ooo – while the figure for England and Wales is 1.03 ….but 8.7 for the United States. Obviously, it isn’t the lawyer’s job to catch criminals; what I’m pointing out is an inverse correlation between the new lawyers coming through, and the amount of crime going on. Ergo sum, lawyers are not generally engaged in prosecuting those preying on society. On the whole, they encourage the growth of ambulance chasers preying on both economy and State.

Hardly surprising, then, that your chances of being convicted of a crime are falling. The Crown Prosecution Service (in case you hadn’t noticed) is flat broke. They blame the police, the police blame the cps, and both of them blame the Government.

Our legal system was originally drawn up to protect aristocrats from mad monarchs. Briefly from the late 19th century onwards, it was designed to alleviate the condition of the poor (occasionally) and later still to protect the weak and vulnerable from the lawlessly privileged in our society. Today the legal system operates to bully the vulnerable (Newscorp) protect the powerful (Met Police) ignore the wind-sailors (Jeremy Hunt) arrest the politically incorrect (Stonewall) control the media (Andrew Marr) and recognise fewer and fewer financial crimes as worthy of their attention (Barclays and RBS). In 2012, the main thing the legal system needs protection from is the lawyers running it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all enquiried out. I want collars felt, stool-pigeons singing, politicians going down the tubes, lawyers cut down to size. In short, I want justice.

“Justice must be seen to be done,” as we used to say at one time. The contemporary definition is slightly different: “Justice must appear to be done, and preferably very, very slowly”.

 

 

35 thoughts on “Unmasking the shady people who pay the Piper:

  1. Couldn’t agree more with this. Our western industrial civilisation is suffering from sclerotic arteries and lawyers and msm are at the bad cholesterol. We seem to have moved from quick justice to the most long strangulated form of non justice possible. The principle of all regulation could be boiled down to the single common law axiom, “do no harm”. If 12 good men and true think something is harmful let them mete out instant justice and all the bollocks would melt away. Ban parliaments from making laws, they should be there to rip them up. They can then focus on holding the government to account for our personal liberty and the way they take our cash and spend it.

    Obviously this could never work as the elites would never allow themselves to be held accountable for the harm they do. Equal treatment for all is what people want to see and is most lacking presently.

  2. My favourite is ‘Draw a line under the matter’ and ‘Lessons learnt’ which really mean, “Ok, so we have been caught out, it doesn’t matter so, shut up canting on”
    You see in Peru you can commit any crime you can afford. The people there have grown up with this culture, twas always thus so to speak, and no one cares a jot about it. Twas always thus here too, just now we are aware of it and we feel cheated, as we should, for, we were told to expect better, we are being lied to, and we are continuing to be lied to. I have a feeling this is not going to change in the near future.
    I always thought that the amount of newly created laws would eventually consume the creators, it is a self devouring exercise, they cannot police the ones we have now, let alone any new ones. I have noticed that drivers do not stop using their mobiles when they spot police cars any longer, such is the contempt for the law. But, on the other hand, in Worthing near to where I live, put one wheel over a yellow line on a Saturday morning at 8:00am and, 2 minutes later, £30 parking fine, yet when a friend of mine reported a burglary where two shotguns were taken, took them 3 days to attend.

    • Chasing burglaries costs money. Parking infractions generate revenue. Someone has to pay for the astonishing cost of the UK police, whose income is only remotely connected with their performance (or lack thereof).

  3. You make a very interesting point JW about the growing percentage of lawyers, not only in the parliamentary process but also in the NGO groups that are in effect an unelected shadow government.
    Paul Keating, a very intelligent politician and Prime Minister of Australia (and not a lawyer) had a marvellously acerebic tongue and he also noted the preponderance of lawyers in Parliament in Australia. He warned that this trend would have negative consequences as in his humble opinion lawyers brains were like birds nests, full of shit and sticks. He was called to order by the Speaker of course.

  4. I might be able to argue minutiae in your view but actually in broad terms it feels absolutely right.

    We would all probably argue the toss about how it has come about and I’ll especially defend against any charge of apathy pointed in my direction. But the real point is when will it change?

    There I am hopeful. Not because I am confident in our institutions but because TPTB have made an error. It is that as long as people could do better than survive, improve on their position and expect to leave their children better off than they were themselves, people would trust in TPTB.

    Now more and more are coming to realise that it has all been a house of cards and only TPTB could be responsible for it. As people struggle more just to keep what they have, their anger will increase and become focussed on those very same TPTB. To survive the growing backlash sacrificial lambs will be selected from within the elite’s own ranks, that is when it will become interesting.

    I hope I live long enough to see it, because my only concern is that it is still someway off and TPTB are no doubt busy working out more and more effective ways to keep people focussed on other stuff.

  5. John, Japan does have relatively few lawyers and as a result organized crime, the Yakusa, are used to settle quite routine matters as well as major scandals. The Yakusa, of course, work hand in hand with the police and the politicians as their extra-judicial arm. The difference is therefore somewhat illusory as well as the fact that Japan is a very homogenous society with strong cultural norms that you violate at your peril.

    I am relieved to see that we are still less lawyer intensive than the US which, in my view, is a nightmare to be avoided at all costs.

    • OAH
      Absolutely spot-on. The incomparably bright and beautiful Gillian Tett at the FT has made the point about Japanese culture several times: both you and she are right.
      This is why I find the comparison important: UK and US pols know knob-all about social anthropology – but it is vital to an understanding of macro behaviour.

  6. Strange how the law works – get nicked today for Drink-Driving and you will appear in court within 7 days…
    Fix the Libor rate some years ago (Gross potential cost of the fraud unknown) and only today there is an inquiry and nobody arrested, nobody doing time – likewise with the phone hacking scandal .

  7. They keep telling us that the finance sector is essential to Britain’s role in the world. If that’s the case we should just jump the whole process and lock the buggers up for Treason Against the State.

    I’d suggest the Tower of London. A few drably dressed inmates would do wonders to its value as a tourist attraction.

  8. JW, you are entirely right in what you say.
    The profusion of “no win no fee” adverts was started when the OFT decided that the Law Society’s ban on lawyers paying referral fees was “anti-competitive”. The Law Society folded like a wet paper bag (despite most of the profession being agin) and thereafter it was open season for the spiv “Claims Management Companies” which took a large fee for well, just saying to people “here’s a lawyer”.
    Litigation itself was made more expensive by the Woolf reforms which stated that before proceedings could be issued every aspect of the case had to be “court ready”. Previously if there was a good case there would usually be a settlement long before that amount of work and therefore cost had been expended. Woolf, being one of our “intellectual” judges took no notice of those who said it would lead to a massive increase in costs-but then he was one of the great and the good.
    And to cap all that lot the Law Society is promoting third party ownership of law firms-probably “venture capitalists”. Now let me think, which will come first, clients best interests (as it should be in a profession) or profit for the owner? Sorry, no prizes for the right answer!
    So, as in banking, it comes down to a clash between the sales at any cost culture and the professional culture-and the professional culture doesn’t stand a chance!

  9. 1. sorry if this comment should really have appeared on his immediate post. BoB and his mates Jesse, Pat, Andrea etc). To get an answer, I will compress.
    2. Chapeau! chapeau!! Chapeau!!! to JW and his instincts
    3. A comment on the “facts” as they emerged from the STC hearing
    4. A serious request for better informed (than me) info from JW or one of his sloggers.
    Back to:
    3. yes, it seems credible that Barclays’ rate setters (in 2007 but mainly in late 2008 before and after the Tucker call and note) were mainly trying to get back in the “pack” – i.e. they were catching up with rate lies of other libor contributors. And yes, this only became very visible with a major impact on derivative rates round the world when absolute libor soared in 2008 and the spread between the various submissions widened. So far so good.Yes, I can believe that Barclays’ main concern was to avoid the impression they were less creditworthy than the lying others and that that concern increased during 200 up to and including the Tucker-Diamond call.
    4. The rogue traders in the 2005-07 period (big Bob’s phase 1) Here somebody please explain. What sort of rate manipulation (upwards? or downwards?) went on in such a way give rise to “insider” trading info that would benefit an individual’s book? What are the mechanics of a trade that makes use of inside info on ONE out of SIXTEEN submissions?

    • ‘I can believe that Barclays’ main concern was to avoid the impression they were less creditworthy than the lying others’. We’ve heard this a lot from various quarters over the last few days, but why did the Select Ctte not jump on this point? One the one hand, Bob knew nothing about manipulation of LIBOR reporting (surely his most important KPI?), but on the other hand, he knew full well what Barclays main concern was (begging the obvious question – ‘what did he propose to do about that main concern?’, leading to the equally obvious answer – ‘under report the rate’, as the ‘impression’ that Barclays wasn’t creditworthy was patently true).

  10. TPTB, by regularly bathing in sewage, hope that we will be unable to distinguish the affluent from the effluent.

  11. It seems that JW is in agreement with Craig Murray.

    The hopelessness of New Labour as a vehicle of change is underlined by their fixation with “judge-led” inquiries into anything that crops up. Remember the Hutton whitewash? Will a senior judge really recommend the fundamental reform of casino banking in the City of London and the careers of the banking squillionaires he undoubtedly knows so well at his club, lodge and golf course?

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/07/judge-led-bullshit/

  12. You would think with so many lawyers against crimes committed that in a free market the cost to hire one of these would fall,cartels inquiring into cartels, never, surly not

  13. The Swan of Avon got there first ….

    “O, that estates, degrees and offices were not derived corruptly, and that clear honour were purchased by the merit of the wearer.” – Merchant of Venice, Act2 , sc 9

    “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – Henry VI, Part II, Act 4

    • no, actually…the bard cribbed it off major rufus-cobb:

      “if we are ever to have law and order in the west, the first thing we gotta do is take out all the lawyers and shoot ‘em down like dogs.” – jesse james, reel 3, scene 1.

      • absolutely, we didn’t get where we are today by reading law-books. we are currently handling a matter concerning the landlord of a three-storey terraced property in east-central london who wishes to make his roof available to the ministry of defence for the purpose of locating strategic ground-to-air missiles during the olympic games. when in place, the gun-battery will make its own case – so no need for unnecessary legal research and intricate intellectual choreography. i’m not sure how effective the site will be as a vantage-point, but i’m pretty sure the next-door-neighbour’s cats are going to be in trouble.

  14. @JW: “The banking, media, political, judicial, legal, commercial and policing agencies [...] work for themselves and each other – not for the people who pay them…

    This is indeed absolutely true and it has always been thus, albeit less obviously in the past. What we are seeing now are the End Days of the charade. I think another view historians might take of this era is ‘The Agonising Death of Democracy’.

  15. oh cummon john, don’t give me all that thousand-word-pen-picture-poppy, it’s all very simple really: the ranks of the political classes are filled purely with lawyers because our duly elected moral jack-asses obviously require someone close-at-hand to get-them-off when they inevitably get caught soliciting in a public place – and many hold dear the ideal that if you want a job done properly it is a far better thing to do-it-yourself; madame parliament is home to the boldest and most barefaced profession – there’s really nothing like the gemütlich back-whiff of homespun lies seeping-out from beneath the rear refectory-door before drifting ambivalently into the bowery back-arbour of lovingly tended and trained limitations.

  16. @JW: “Enquiries are not set up to hold people to account, but rather to hold up the process of prosecution until such time as the public loses interest.

    Quite so. I’m sure that when Red Ed Milipede keeps demanding a full judicial inquiry into Libor rigging that’ll take forever, he really really wants to get to the bottom of who, what, when & why, not to kick the scandal into the long grass to hide his own Party’s direct involvement.

    It is now a matter of fact that Libor was being rigged and that is a criminal offence. What we need right now is not any sort of inquiry – quick and dirty or otherwise – but a criminal investigation and charges brought against the perps and conspirators. Why are the Met Police not already on to this? Do they have to be asked to investigate crime?

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