Sometimes I just don’t know where to start. It is Monday and I do have a heavy cold, but this is not why it has taken me so long to start writing this post. Rather, my inertia is born out of an utter bewilderment, bordering on disbelief, as I watch a democratically elected government quite brazenly trash the rule of law, the main thing (some might say the only thing) separating it from a totalitarian state.
I have a cat. I’m quite fond of him and I like having him around, but, if I’m honest, I don’t think he’d be too upset if I moved away and left him. He’d probably just go and live with the neighbour up the road where he seems to spend most of his time anyway. It’s what cats do. So it’s surely common sense that a cat couldn’t be a reason not to deport someone? Apparently not.
The Dale Farm saga has the power, it seems, to invoke passions as few other recent events. It has unleashed streams of vitriol on Twitter and in the blogosphere and a glut of contradicting information and claims. As well as the main protagonists, the Dale Farm residents and Basildon Council, a range of other supporting players have emerged to underline this isn’t just a legal, but a moral debate.
Lawyers don’t always get the best press, but every so often even I have to concede they deserve some good PR. This week the Law Society launched a national pro bono helpline for victims of the recent riots. To those of you who aren’t lawyers (and I’m not, but I spend an awful lot of time around them) that means free help and advice. This is undeniably a good deed and a far more useful response to the riots than anything the government has so far come up with.
No-one could fail to be moved by the words of Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the three men mown down by a hit and run driver in Birmingham last week. His reaction to his son’s death, killed as he tried to protect his community from rioters, was both poignant and extraordinary. He said he believed people could stay calm and could live together. The police said his words had played a significant part in helping to quell further unrest.
There are lots of things that make me proud to be British, at least there were until yesterday. I feel pretty ashamed at seeing yobs and hoodlums looting and rioting, laying waste to people's homes and businesses for nothing more than a shiny pair of trainers or an iPod. It's particularly depressing when seen alongside the recent protests across the middle east.