Not Saussure

January 1, 2007

Radio 4 Today Programme Christmas Repeal results

Filed under: BBC, civil liberties, Politics — notsaussure @ 1:54 pm
  • The Hunting Act with 52.8%

  • European Communities Act : 29.7%

  • Serious Organised Crime and Police Act : 6.2%

  • Human Rights Act: 6.1%

  • The Act of Settlement: 3.6%

  • The Dangerous Dogs Act: 1.6%

Source: BBC – Radio 4 – Today – 2006 Vote

Hardly an unexpected result, though I don’t quite see why the fact a lot of people feel strongly enough about an issue to get up a campaign about it means their views should be discounted. For what it’s worth, I voted for repealing the Hunting Act not because I particularly want to hunt and certainly not because I was induced so to do by the Countryside Alliance or anyone else (though possibly my late wife would have come back and haunted me if I hadn’t) but because I think it’s an illiberal law that has nothing to do with animal welfare and a great deal to do with poltical spite and with Tony giving his backbenchers something to distract them so they could feel they were doing something progressive and radical.

Under proportional representation, by the way, I’d probably have voted to scrap SOCPA, but it was obvious that the contest was between the Hunting Act and the European Communities Act and, of the two, I wanted to see the Hunting Act go rather than the ECA.

There’s an interview on the site with Anne Widdecombe and Baroness Mallalieu about whether the vote was rigged and another, rather more interesting one, with the Hansard Society’s Lord Holme of Cheltenham about the difficulties in getting laws repealed as compared with getting them passed; I think James Naughtie [Ed Stourton, apparently; shows how closely I was listening]  is unduly pessimistic when he says in the interview something to the effect that people wouldn’t vote for a party that said it didn’t plan to do anything particularly dramatic if elected but would, rather, spend its time tidying up legislation and getting rid of some. I’d certainly vote for them.

Difficult to disagree, certainly, with Lord Holme’s wish that (if I jotted it down correctly) governments would be

less promiscuous in their desire to legislate for every possible eventuality.

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  1. …an illiberal law that has nothing to do with animal welfare and a great deal to do with poltical spite…

    As always, you’re right on the money. And another thing – I really like the script and cleanness in your comments system. It makes it pleasant to visit.

    Comment by james higham — January 1, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  2. I couldn’t help noticing that the story on the BBC news site gave the very strong impression that the poll was rigged, and it was the Countryside Alliance’s “subverting” of the poll that they chose to focus on – conveniently ignoring that every time they have these polls the public always choose what one might characterise as right-wing positions.

    Comment by Mr Eugenides — January 1, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

  3. Most irriating for the Beeb to have to give air time to one of their hated causes. Still, much amusement for us.

    I would hgave voted for a repeal for hte Parliament act. We really need to re-balance our government.

    Comment by cityunslicker — January 1, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

  4. James, thank you for your kind and gracious comments. Mr E; I don’t think I agree that opposing the Hunting Act is a ‘right-wing’ position, particularly; I oppose it on the old-fashioned liberal grounds that before you ban something you need a good reason and that no one has yet shown me — or The Burns Inquiry  — any convincing evidence that hunting foxes so much less humane a way of killing them than the other, still legal, methods available that it should be a criminal offence.   I used to think it probably should be banned, not that it was a topic which  concerned me particularly,  until I met my late wife, whom no one could accuse of being keen on cruelty to animals; she pointed out, not unreasonably, that as a rule I disliked prejudice, so shouldn’t I find out a few facts before rushing to judgment.   I did, and that changed my mind. 

    Even if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have dreamed of telling my wife, let alone a perfect stranger, that she mustn’t hunt, which is what the supporters of the ban are doing.

    I agree, though, that the BBC seemed far more concerned to create a story about supposed rigging — if having lots of people who support a cause and are prepared to campaign about it can be called ‘rigging’ — than they were the results, possibly because they weren’t  much of a surprise.

    Comment by notsaussure — January 1, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

  5. Actually, just noticed – the Act of Settlement. Why would one repeal that?

    Comment by james higham — January 1, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

  6. Discriminates against Papists like me — neither the monarch nor their heir to the throne can be one or marry one; outrageously discriminatory state of affairs and not to be tolerated, at least according to William Dalrymple. Can’t say it’s ever been much of an issue in my life, but clearly I don’t move in the same circles as does he.

    They’ve got audio links for all the nominations, plus some very good ones that didn’t make it, on the Today Programme website

    Comment by notsaussure — January 1, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  7. Interesting article like the bit about the end about acts in particular- I can’t remember what the date is but its something in the 90s and the fact is that we’ve had as many criminal justice bills up to that point as since then which illustrates your point.

    Comment by Gracchi — January 1, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

  8. I have replied again on the hunting act, which funnily enough I don’t support. If people were really concerned re animal welfare they’d get on to halal and kosher butchers – of course they won’t, they’d rather go for softer targets like hunting.

    Quite right about overlegislating, this country’s main political disease.

    Comment by Political umpire — January 2, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

  9. There’s certainly no shortage of bad laws to choose from with our current government.

    Speaking as a left-wing vegetarian, I entirely agree with you about the hunting bill, and would be quite happy to see it repealed. Don’t think I would have put it as priority number one though. Would have been the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act for me.

    Was it last year when the BBC’s vote for a suggested new law was won by the Right to Murder? So I don’t think they can be too worried about their polls being topped by right-wing issues (not that this is one).

    Comment by Larry Teabag — January 2, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  10. Thanks, P-Ump. I’ll reply to your reply, as it were, over there. As to halal and kosher butchers, I can’t really understand why people get so worked up about them but don’t particularly worried about factory farmed poultry and eggs; it seems to me difficult to sustain the case that, from the animal welfare point of view, a free-range chicken or turkey, however slaughtered, has a worse time of it overall than does a factory-reared bird, no matter how slaughtered.

    I’m not suggesting banning factory-farmed products but it’s easy enough to stop buying them yourself, which I somehow doubt many people — I don’t mean — who express concern about particular slaughter methods do.

    Quite simply, though, if someone happily buys Kentucky-Fried Chicken, or any sort of microwave poultry dish from the supermarket without making very careful inquiries first, I can’t take his protestations about his concerns for animal welfare particularly seriously.

    Since, while I try to be good about buying free-range products — at least when it comes to whole birds and fresh eggs, I certainly don’t bother to enquire about the provenance of chickens that appear in prepared foods or restaurants, I feel it would be hypocritical of me to criticise others for the supposed inhumanity involved in the preparation of their food. That’s particularly true because I eat things I know are prepared in ways of which I don’t particularly approve because I’m too lazy to look for an acceptable substitute rather than because of any religious conviction.

    As to over-legislation, it’s a nightmare; Gracchi quite rightly refers to the multiplicity of Criminal Justice Acts we’ve over recent years and which, as you’ll know, are driving the bar and judiciary to despair at times. I’ve quoted this before, and will doubtless quote it again, but it’s very difficult to disagree with the Court of Appeal when they said (R v Lang [2005] EWCA Crim 2864)

    The fact that, in many cases, the sentencers were unsuccessful in finding their way through the provisions of this Act, which we have already described as labyrinthine, is a criticism not of them but of those who produced these astonishingly complex provisions. Whether now or in the fullness of time the public will benefit from sentencing provisions of such complexity is not for us to say. But it does seem to us that there is much to be said for a sentencing system which is intelligible to the general public as well as decipherable, with difficulty by the judiciary.

    or, in a later case (CPS v South East Surrey Youth Court [2005] EWHC 2929 (Admin)) dealing with the same Act,

    So, yet again, the courts are faced with a sample of the deeply confusing provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and the satellite Statutory Instruments to which it is giving stuttering birth. The most inviting course for this Court to follow, would be for its members, having shaken their heads in despair to hold up their hands and say: “the Holy Grail of rational interpretation is impossible to find”. But it is not for us to desert our judicial duty, however lamentably others have legislated. But we find little comfort or assistance in the historic canons of construction for determining the will of Parliament which were fashioned in a more leisurely age and at a time when elegance and clarity of thought and language were to be found in legislation as a matter of course rather than exception.

    Comment by notsaussure — January 2, 2007 @ 6:27 pm

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