Don’t let them become judge and jury

All leaders in the public world loathe the public and the idea of removing juries is yet another assault on our historic freedoms

Are our peers 'too thick' to judge us?
Simon Miller
On 25 February 2013 12:18

Just when you thought the British public had finally ceased to amaze you, something comes along to make you gape in wonder once more. From clowns in High Court to You Gov surveys, the base attitudes on offer can make you sigh with despair or curse in anger at the fecklessness confronting you.

Take the Mansion Tax. Ed Miliband gained a lot of plaudits for stealing this idea which has been applauded even by the likes of Tim Montgomery and readers of the Daily Telegraph.

I have written before that the problem with property is that there is no intrinsic value to it. The value is only realised when it is bought/sold or borrowed/lent against. Even then the value is only conceived by an agreement between buyer/seller or borrower/lender. Until that happens it is just a pile of bricks.

Secondly, there is the issue that it has already been taxed – stamp duty – so essentially an owner will be taxed twice; three times if it is passed on due to inheritance tax.

The depressing thing about this is that the public appears to like the idea of a property tax; indeed, it appears to like the idea of a wealth tax in general. A recent YouGov survey points out that 65 precent agree with the idea of a tax on property, while half agree with the concept of a wealth tax.

But there is an even more worrying issue:  Although 47 percent of people believe that increasing taxes on the wealthy would drive some rich people abroad, they felt it was “still the right thing to do”. That’s right, even though it may backfire, nearly half the sample asked wanted to hit the rich anyway.

It is typical of where we are in the UK with feckless jealousy outweighing common sense; hell, even the concept of property rights can go out of the window when you are eating the rich.

New Labour essentially conducted a social experiment to see how dependent the British public could become. Depressingly, it appears that it succeeded. Dropping educational skills, erosion of civil society, and the condemnation of certain groups all have led to this situation where an assault on property rights is applauded not condemned. Why? Well they’re rich; they’ve got something that ‘we’ haven’t. It’s all part of the ‘me first’, everyone-gets-a-medal culture that has infested our nation.

The public can still show signs of independent thought, but for how long? There has been a lot of chatter about the thickness of the jury at Southwark Crown Court for the case of Vicky Pryce, but there is a far more concerning issue that has arisen from the case: The issue of trial by jury itself has been thrown up into the ether.

Commentators that I respect have suggested that it is time to end the concept of jury practice and that it has passed its sell-by date. This is madness. At a time when our freedoms are coming under greater attack, the concept of being judged by your peers has to be defended not thrown away.

Accountability in the public domain is in increasingly short supply and there are even greater efforts to muzzle the press – just the latest of the “we know best” corporate technocracy that has infected our system.

These people – the people that self-regulate, that fix their own expenses, that see no issue with strangling this country to death with regulation and taxes – don’t want you to be examined by 12 men good and true. They don’t want their ridiculous rules and laws held up for examination. Least of all do they want bad law to be tested by the public.

You see, these people think they know best. Instead of condemning archaic legalese, they attack the jury. They think that some person sitting on high, passing down judgment on fixed laws is a good thing. The last thing they want is the grubby public to say, ‘well that may be the law, but it’s stupid so the defendant is innocent’. It offends them.

All leaders in the public world loathe the public. From what they read to how the public think, it has all come under sustained pressure and the idea of removing juries is yet another assault on our historic freedoms.

The bitter ridicule of the peasants because they are not the bien pensant shows what our noble thinkers and leaders really think about us and any further attack on the jury system will be yet another attack on the people they fear the most – ‘the people’.

Simon Miller is a Contributing Editor to the Commentator

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