Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Spooks as much as the next person, although I lost interest once the characters played by Rupert Penry Jones and Hermione Norris were bumped off. Along with most people, I have no illusions as to how accurate a portrayal it represented of the security services. Most amusing was the idea that there were only about a dozen spies at most, all highly swashbuckling, protecting us.
Legal aid might not be dead yet, but it is certainly on life support. The route to justice for thousands of people, including children, victims of domestic violence, disabled people appealing decisions to cut welfare payments and patients who have suffered at the hands of a negligent doctor, is slowly being choked off. And yet there has been more press coverage about having to pay VAT on a hot pasty.
I'll give them this, the coalition government has a thick skin. Having only passed the Welfare Reform Bill by one vote last week and still dragging the Health and Social Care Bill kicking and screaming through the House of Lords, today it attempts to squeeze the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (Laspo) past growing opposition from peers.
You know when something is seriously wrong with the world when you are on the same side of an argument as Lord Tebbit. Not exactly known for his compassion, he famously urged the unemployed to get on their bikes and look for work, he’s not a politician you would think of as a supporter of any sort of state funding for, well anything. However, this week he has rather surprised everyone and come out fighting to preserve legal aid for children in medical negligence cases.
I apologise in advance for this post. This is meant to be a legal blog, even if only in the very loosest sense of the word, but I’ve struggled to find an obvious legal link (or even a not-very-obvious one) with today’s national public sector strike. I could have given you a blow-by-blow account of the history of industrial action and it’s legality or otherwise, but then you would probably stop reading about here. You may stop reading anyway, but if you are at all intrigued about the link I’ve come up with, keep going.