Monday, 15 May 2017

The Trial of the Century

Last year, we had a somewhat controversial trial in the UK. You may have heard of it – the news services covered it fairly comprehensively. It was controversial for a number of reasons, not least that it even occurred. Instigated by a fairly small number of individuals, most of whom had a fairly questionable set of morals, on the basis of hearsay and dodgy data.

Nevertheless, their persistance paid off, the trial was arranged and the defendent was put in the dock. The controversy just escalated from there. Jury selection would normally weed out the prejudiced, the incompetent and those with a conflict of interests. But it was decided that the jury should in fact include a sizeable number of open racists and certifiable morons, despite the defendent being a foreigner and the case being complex. Whereas jurors would normally need to be open-minded, on this occasion it was deemed acceptable to include those who had already committed to a verdict before even hearing the evidence.

It just got worse though. Both defence and prosecution presented demonstrable lies as ‘evidence’, with very little done to challenge them, let alone strike their absurd claims from the record. Perhaps it didn’t matter, because it was also decided that the jurors could discuss the case as the trial progressed, not only amongst themselves but with anyone they wished. Even on social media.

Yes, that’s right. The jurors sat through most of the trial ignoring both defence and prosecution and just used their phones to browse social media and share internet memes of dubious origin as ‘alternative evidence’. Then there was also the rabid tabloid press, doing their best to interfere with the trial. It all descended into utter farce.

The jurors retired to consider the ‘evidence’, taking about 12 hours to deliberate before returning with their verdict. Guilty as charged! It wasn’t a unanimous verdict by any means. It was almost a dead heat. But the racist and moron contribution was sufficient to produce a 7 to 5 result in favour of the prosecution. Normally, this is an insufficient margin for a conviction, but on this occasion it was decided it was ok.

You might think there’d be obvious cause to record a mistrial and dismiss the verdict. But no, it’s been allowed to stand. Worse, it has been decided that there cannot even be an appeal. What sort of justice is this you might ask? To call it rough justice is an understatement. It’s becoming more and more apparent every day that the jury delivered the wrong verdict and that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. But it doesn’t seem to matter.

The defendent in the dock last June was a chap called the European Union. The sentence was that he should be expelled. It’ll cost a pretty penny to expel him, and we all get to pay that bill, Leavers and Remainers alike. You perhaps think that I should get over it and move on. But the facts are these. In less than two years, as things will stand, I will be forcibly stripped of my European citizenship.  I am already financially poorer for the decision, and I will get poorer still. The opportunities of Brexit are not as good as the existing benefits we get through the EU. The United Kingdon is threatening to rip itself apart. That’s an awful lot to ‘get over’, with not a lot to look forward to. It’s all stick and no carrot.

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The referendum should not have happened. It was a foolish gamble by David Cameron attempting to play the hero, and it backfired. It was a stupid question that provoked a stupid answer. We have general elections to appoint representatives, some of whom will form a government with the object of implementing their published manifestos. Together with the established civil service, these are the people with the experience and knowledge to plot the best path for the country. This is a system which generally works well to prevent uninformed, poorly thought out and extreme ideas from being foisted on the country.

Another by product of the EU referendum is another General Election on June 8th. Over the last couple of years, I seem to have had as many voter cards stuck through my letter box as pizza menus. Maybe I exaggerate. But you take the point, and my latest card is the featured image above. And it’s another vote that shouldn’t be happening. We have a Fixed-term Parliament Act which was created specifically to prevent opportunistic snap polls by the party in government to take advantage of the moment to launch a power grab. It is, frankly, a farce brought about by the Conservative party for the Conservative party.

But I will stroll along to the polling centre with Mrs P. I will cast my ballot for the Liberal Democrats, the only major party that is in favour of staying in the EU. Mrs P will make her own choice. I feel certain that it won’t be in favour of the Tory party. I’m equally certain that our votes will make no difference to the outcome. We’re not in a ‘swing’ constituency. It’s one of the Conservative party’s safer seats.

I’ll vote with more than a tinge of sorrow that the 48% who are Remainers have not united and gotten behind the Liberal Democrats in the same way that the 45% of Scottish independence voters got behind the SNP in 2015, trebling their share of the vote and taking 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in the process. That would have been an end to Brexit.