Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Planet of the Apes

The very word 'law' would you believe is Danish, it was left behind by the Vikings and supplanted the original English word "ae" or the Anglo Saxon world "doom" and Latin rival "lex".

Our governments and courts set our laws, the general rules in society. But when the new law gets out there into the wild, sometimes it doesn’t exactly apply or always serve justice. These senses come through in that famous quote from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist where a henpecked Mr. Bumble, when told

“the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.”
“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass- a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor…”

The phrase “the law’s an ass” may have been made famous by Dickens, but it appeared back in the 1650s in a play called Revenge of Honor, so the feeling of injustice wasn’t new even in Dickens’ day. And the same tone from the Devil’s Dictionary:

Once Law was sitting on the bench,
And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
“Clear out!” he cried, “disordered wench!
Nor come before me creeping.
Upon your knees if you appear,
‘Tis plain your have no standing here.”
Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
“Your status? – devil seize you!”
“Amica curiae,” she replied -
“Friend of the court, so please you.”
“Begone!” he shouted – “there’s the door -
I never saw your face before!”

The best saying and my own favourite is: One law for the rich and another for the poor.

One law for the rich and another for the poor
1830 Marryat King's Own

"Is there nothing smuggled besides gin? Now, if the husbands and fathers of these ladies,—those who have themselves enacted the laws,—wink at their infringement , why should not others do so? There cannot be one law for the rich and another for the poor."

The Spectator 1913

"The idea prevails abroad that there is one law for the ‘rich’ Englishman and another for the ‘poor’ ...

For weeks now the honourable members of parliament, our law makers have demonstrated that there is indeed just one law for the rich and privileged in our society, albeit in this case the guardian, protectors of the system that we all have to live under,uniformly managed in the interests of capitalism and the profit ethos by one party or the other on a rotation basis not too unlike the wild boar on the open skewer a roasting. The goal is to manage the system that serves and sustains the capitalist organisation of the world. All the main political parties compete against one another for that coveted distinction, which they will say is to lead the nation.

The whole business about MPs'expenses has exposed parliament and it's party representatives as nothing more than self-seeking money grabbing chancers. The growing insular-ism of MPs is always liable to distract them from their first purpose, to represent voters. The House of Commons in all its Gothic grandeur, tends to encourage a dangerous nostalgia, self-importance and detachment. This is an impression that I arrived at when many years ago along with my sister, we enjoyed a tour of the commons chamber, I remember my sister decided to try the the chamber seating out for comfort, just in front of one of the dispatch boxes, and was duly reprimanded by an attendant, what a spoil-spot, many a dishonest backside has since afterwards sunk into it's green leathered upholstery and, I do suppose it makes commonsense for it to be tough and durable, if not hard-wearing,thinking about it.

Coming back to my intended thread, the expenses claims, have projected our MPs into new perceptions in the public eye, for the first time probably in living memory, the outrage and discontent is almost universal, as more of the public come to hold MPs in complete and undulated contempt, and who can blame them when many are struggling to hold on to jobs, homes and a diminishing standard of living. Is it not surprising that many see the quality of MPs declining, how can they help create a better world, when so many are associated with sleazy activities. Jeremy Paxman put it best when he said:

"In much of the popular mind, politicians are all the same. They're a bunch of egotistical, lying narcissist who sold their souls long ago and would auction their children tomorrow if they thought it would advance their career. They are selfish, manipulative, scheming, venal. The only feelings they care about are their own... they are not people you want your son or daughter to marry."

In 1997 New Labour and Tony Blair swept into power with a determination to change the rules, the late Robin Cook as leader of the House pushed forward bold proposals to limit the hours and and reschedule summer brakes supposedly to provide a more efficient and voter-friendly legislature. Well I think we can argue what in fact has been achieved, is the complete diametrical opposite. The legalese style of Parliamentarians suggests that it's institution has become nothing more than and as always, a rubber stamp on a planet run by apes, with short tails or non at all.

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