Solomon relied on wisdom and Alexander on soldierly directness to solve tough problems in ingenious ways involving cutting implements. It’s distressing to observe that, in solving the problem of leaving the EU, HMG is displaying neither quality.
Justice Secretary Liz ‘Elizabeth’ Truss has announced that, sorry about the manifesto pledge and all that, but the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) will remain in place until after the 2020 general election and possibly beyond.
“The British Bill of Rights,” she explained, “is not something we can do at the same time as we are putting through the Great Repeal Bill… It’s important we only do one constitution reform at a time.”
This is arrant nonsense on more levels that one finds in a modern skyscraper. Where are Solomon and Alexander when we need them to sort out our government?
Solomon, having cast an eye over Britain’s political tradition, would explain to Miss Truss that there are no two constitutional reforms under way, nor even one. There’s simply a repair job.
Allow me to explain so that even our ministers can understand. The other day a careless driver damaged a side mirror on my car. My local mechanic Mark fixed it at a cost of £75. Can you say he reformed my car? Of course not. Mark simply returned it to its original state.
Extrapolating ever so slightly, leaving the EU is tantamount only to a quick repair job, not a constitutional reform. The job does involve more than one step, but we used to be blessed with politicians who could walk and… well, do that other thing at the same time.
Solomon would then deductively proceed from the general to the specific by explaining to Miss Truss that Britain needs the ECHR like he himself needed another wife. He already had 700 of them, plus 300 concubines, and Britain has for centuries had enough legal provisions to satisfy the most insatiable lust for human rights.
The rights of Englishmen is a notion predating the ECHR by some 800 years, and in the intervening period the concept has grown in both scope and depth. There have been glitches here and there, but on the whole Britain has done rather well in that respect, and manifestly better than any other country in Europe.
Our constitution is arguably the best and certainly the longest-lasting the world has ever seen. And as Lucius Cary said almost 400 years ago, “If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.”
The ECHR was thrust down our throats by the most revolting personage ever to disgrace 10 Downing Street. Tony Blair remembered what a great time he had had waiting on tables in Paris in his youth and decided once again to be subservient to the French and Germans.
Because France, where young Tony used to serve customers, is a revolutionary republic, its constitution lacks an organic claim to legitimacy. Hence nothing goes without saying, or rather writing.
Every little legal quirk has to be put down on paper, and no constitution can survive for long. Since 1789 France has had 17 different constitutions, each spawning a plethora of new laws. These come down from top to bottom, originating in the fecund minds of avocats who bang their clever heads together to lord it over the French.
By contrast, English Common Law, vectored from bottom to top, has throughout history built a solid capital of justice and legitimacy, accepted as such by all. Thus a switch to the continental system of positive law exemplified by the ECHR flies in the face of Lucius Cary’s (and Solomon’s) wisdom.
The ECHR is no more synonymous with human rights than the European Union is with Europe, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with democracy, republicanism or indeed people. The continentals are welcome to it, but their meat is our poison.
Over to you, Alexander. How do we solve Liz Truss’s problem? (And please don’t tell her to start by using her full name, rather than its emetically populist contraction. She’s a modern, not Macedonian, politician.)
There’s no time in her busy schedule to leave both the EU and the ECHR because the latter involves a lot of messing about with a custom-made British Bill of Rights. How can the poor girl solve this conundrum?
Simple, says the Hegemon. Leave the ECHR effective today and forget any new Bill of Rights. We already have one such, passed in 1689 after the Glorious Revolution, as the Dutch occupation is commonly known. Didn’t need that one either, as we didn’t need the Glorious Revolution – but that’s a different story.
Just take care of freeing our ancient constitution from the yoke of European legalism, and human rights will take care of themselves. As they have done for a lot more centuries than France has been a revolutionary republic, Germany a unified country or the ECHR a twinkle in anyone’s eye.
Having thus chopped through that knot, Alexander returned to history, followed by the wise King Solomon. We, on the other hand, are stuck in the present, where we’re ruled by nonentities like Liz ‘Elizabeth’ Truss.