Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

[Unconstitutional Alliance] – Where does the Rule of Law come in?

Posted by BHudson on February 8, 2009

I’m having a state-the-obvious day, because (for want of another reason), not many people seem to be seeing things as they are.

I hold these points to be self evident:

  1. The UK has a constitution.

  2. The constitution is uncodified but partially written.

  3. One of the sources of the constitution is the rule of law.

  4. Hence, the government is bound by the laws of the land.

These are pretty simple, fundamental points. The thing is, the rule of law would not allow the wilful suppression of evidence relating to a torture case. So why does Miliband continue to pass off the UK’s spineless response to the USA’s strongarm tactics in the name of ‘national security’? Suppressing evidence is against the rule of law. The relationship between America and Britain enforces the suppression of evidence. Hence, the alliance is (on this front) unconstitutional.

As Crispin Black comments in the Independent on Sunday, the problem stems from the USA’s unilateral foreign policy. We can have a ‘special relationship’ with their government, as long as we don’t step out of line. “There is little cost/benefit analysis of our relationship with the Americans. And absolutely none about the intelligence relationship… We persist in an ‘intelligence cringe’ – the Americans know more, the Americans know better. Well, they did not know what was going on in Iraq… Quite why we should think they understand what is going on any else better than we do remains a mystery.”

In the words of Shami Chakrabarti, “Despite best efforts to shine a light on the grubbiest aspects of the ‘war on terror’, the Foreign Office has claimed that the Obama administration maintained a previous US threat to reconsider intelligence sharing unless our judges kept this shameful skeleton in the closet. We find this Foreign Office allegation … surprising.”

The bottom line is that by withholding evidence, both sides are implicit in torture, regardless of whether they were before (and I’m pretty sure they were). Yet another nail in the coffin of the War of on Terror that will no doubt have no effect.

4 Responses to “[Unconstitutional Alliance] – Where does the Rule of Law come in?”

  1. Cecilieaux said

    Allow me, sir, to examine your “self-evident” points:

    “1. The UK has a constitution.”

    The UK does not have a constitution.

    “2. The constitution is uncodified but partially written.”

    Only if you regard the “constitution” to be a morass of nearly a millenium’s worth of edicts, bills, and interpretations.

    “3. One of the sources of the constitution is the rule of law.”

    But law does not rule; custom rules and then only when it suits a particular class.

    “4. Hence, the government is bound by the laws of the land.”

    Hence the government makes things up as it goes along.

  2. […] [Unconstitutional Alliance] – Where does the Rule of Law come in … […]

  3. BHudson said

    1. A common misconception. The UK has a constitution. The fact that it is uncodified, weak and crippled by the lack of separation of powers does not change that. The sources of the UK constitution are statute laws, convention, common laws, EU laws and treaties and works of authority.

    2. I regard the relevant laws as part of the constitution, as did Bagehot and all the constitutional authorities I can recall. See 1.

    3. Custom, indeed, is part of the constitution. The rule of law is as well. Yes, I admit, it is weakened by the influence of the executive in the judiciary. But that doesn’t change the basic facts that the government is bound by the rule of law, and as such _ought_ to follow them. Of course, they frequently don’t, so I’ll let you have number 4.


  4. Lex Fear said

    I think Hudson is right, we have a sort of unwritten constitution, but it is present in the vast array of laws, bills and statutes built up over time.

    I can think of one such constitutional law, the Bill of Rights.

    Sadly the British no longer know how to fight for their rights or revolt, and so the present government gets away with legislating over those rights which now go ignored.

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