June 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
18th June 2010.
Dear Prime Minister,
(A personalised copy of this has been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Congratulations on becoming first ever Prime Minister of the ‘Big Society’.
Your clarion call to the good people of the UK to ‘come up with ideas to reduce the deficit’ is one that I wholeheartedly welcome. I knew you’d get us off to a good start.
Feeling the keen responsibility of public service upon my shoulders as a proud member of your Big Society, I have been thinking like Aristotle but was on the verge of giving up when suddenly I was struck by a bolt of inspiration. Without further ado, and since I know you’re busy Prime Minister, here is my proposal:
It is common knowledge that our Judicial and Penal systems in the UK are an immense financial burden, costing billions upon billions annually. So, why not do away with most of it? (Because law and order would immediately collapse, comes the collective answer). Not at all. If we look to the example of international law, an alternative system is staring us in the face – one that would cost a fraction of our current one. In this alternative system, known criminals and repeat offenders would not be put through the justice system but instead, would be charged with conducting an investigation into themselves and their wrongdoings. This is not as crazy as it sounds, as I will attempt to explain…
Parameters would need to be set to ensure that these investigations meet acceptable standards of impartiality, credibility and transparency – in the case of international law this is achieved by the friends and family of the perpetrator nominating two ‘observers’ to oversee the investigation. Crucially, no witnesses are required to testify and there is no cross-examination (this is where much of the money is saved). To give a semblance of legitimacy to the proceedings and ensure the public’s faith in the process, an ex-judge chairs the whole affair (retired judge’s come much more cheaply than active judges – another saving). So, we see savings all the way down the line, but the real beauty of this system – and where TRULY MASSIVE SAVINGS will be made – lies in the predictability of the investigations findings wherein the criminal is free to go about their criminal behaviour in a quid pro quo for delivering the requisite self-admonishment. Thus we would do away with custodial sentences completely!
Contrary to our intuition, this works. Foreign Secretary William Hague made this very clear in a recent address to the Commons where there was a heated debate about a country that is said to systematically violate and hold in contempt international law. Here is how he reassured the House:
“commissions and enquiries have on occasion been established …. that have delivered stinging criticism of the Israeli Government and armed forces, although on other occasions such enquiries have not done so when we might have thought they were merited.”
“Israel has previously held inquiries into some of the events in Lebanon in the 1980’s and into the Lebanon War in 2006 that certainly were independent and credible by international standards, and that meted out considerable, and sometimes severe criticism to the authorities in Israel. It is possible for them to do that.”
One must accept Foreign Secretary Hague’s assertions at face value. “Considerable” and “stinging” criticism was delivered, he says, thereby proving those who would seek to discredit such a judicial system, wrong. Because no-one was indicted, costly trials in The Hague were scrupulously avoided, thus saving the European taxpayer a small fortune. We must also note that following the “independent and credible” inquiry into “the events in Lebanon in the 1980’s”, Israel committed a repeat act of aggression against Lebanon in 2006 in which they were able to put into practice the lessons they’d learnt from their punishing self-criticism of earlier, only partially destroying Beirut instead of completely destroying it. Hence we can begin to see the validity of Mr Hague’s, at first glance strange, logic. This is further exemplified by the damning inquiry Israel conducted on itself for that later crime, which precipitated their act of aggression against Gaza in Xmas of 2008, in which no part of Beirut was bombed at all. So, here we have empirical evidence that this sort of stripped-down legal system could work well here in the UK in a domestic sense. At an average cost of £100’000 per prisoner per annum saved, this would help the UK economy enormously. (We already have seen a limited version of this enacted vis a vis the UK banking system and financial institution’s humungous embezzlement of the public purse, to great advantage (to them), so it’s really just a question of rolling it out through the rest of the legal system).
I understand that this type of proposal would usually come under the remit of the Home Secretary, so I will be writing to her hoping that she will find merit in my scheme, but I wanted to share this with you first, Prime Minister, to give you confidence that your call to the Big Society at large hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. By the way, as a public servant in the truest sense, I would prefer to remain anonymous as the architect of this groundbreaking legal overhaul, so I urge you not to put my name about in the corridors of Westminster, and especially not to the Right Hon. William Hague who may think I have ‘nicked his idea’.
I hope both you and Cherie settle well into No.10