When is corruption not corrupt? When the establishment says it isn’t

5 August 2013

5:54 PM

5 August 2013

5:54 PM

Mr Justice Tugendhat delivered a ferocious verdict last week. Undercover reporters from the Sunday Times claimed they had found Peter Cruddas, co-Treasurer of the Conservative Party, offering influence in return for wodges of cash. With damning language, the judge found against the paper, leaving it with costs and damages of around £700,000.

I don’t want to discuss the merits of the case. Cruddas, who had to resign when the story came out, may have been unjustly maligned. Conversely, the Sunday Times is going to the Court of Appeal, so it may be that the paper is the true victim. I want to look at the judge’s reasoning instead, because it unconsciously reveals how platitudes, evasions and logical fallacies hide corruption in British public life.

If I have read him right, Tugendhat believes that corruption cannot exist in the British state because nothing the British state allows can be corrupt. I will let the learned judge take you round his circular reasoning in his own words.

“The present system of party funding, whether desirable or not, is lawful and practical, whereas other possible systems, such as funding out of taxation, or mass membership of political parties, are either not provided for by law, or not in practice available to the parties, however much they might wish that they were. This court cannot declare to be corrupt, as a matter of fact, the system of party funding authorised by Parliament and adopted by the Conservative and other parties. That may or may not be an opinion which people may honestly hold. It is not true as a matter of fact that the system is corrupt.”


Where to begin? One of the many pernicious aspects of our libel law is that it allows judges to express personal prejudices that have no place in a courtroom. It is not up to a judge to start pontificating on the practicality or otherwise of state funding. These are political questions that ought to be beyond his brief. Meanwhile his statement that ‘this court cannot declare to be corrupt, as a matter of fact, the system of party funding authorised by Parliament and adopted by the Conservative and other parties’ manages to sum up everything that is wrong with British complacency in one sentence.

As if to show how, a new honours list came out within days, and men who had donated money to the Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats received peerages in return. They had bought seats in Parliament – and seats for life, mark you. The electorate can no more throw them out of the Lords than it can send them there in the first place. I listened to the debates on the radio – and took part in a couple myself. At no point did anyone defending the status quo seem at all concerned that places in the legislature were up for sale. Doubtless they would be outraged if politicians in other countries auctioned honours and parliamentary seats. But like Mr Justice Tugendhat, they cannot admit the existence of corruption in Britain.

The Crown Prosecution Service showed how it can be ignored when the Blair government was exchanging ermine for money. You would never guess it, but it is a criminal offence to sell honours. But the CPS decided: ‘If one person makes an offer, etc., in the hope or expectation of being granted an honour, or in the belief that it might put him/her in a more favourable position when nominations are subsequently being considered, that does not of itself constitute an offence. Conversely, if one person grants, etc., an honour to another in recognition of (in effect, as a reward for) the fact that that other has made a gift, etc., that does not of itself constitute an offence… For a case to proceed, the prosecution must have a realistic prospect of being able to prove that the two people agreed that the gift, etc., was in exchange for an honour.’ Which is close to impossible, unless GQHQ were to start bugging party leaders’ conversations.

I don’t think the current venality of public life can continue. Not because I have any faith in basic morality triumphing or investigative journalists exposing the scandal (the judges will put a stop to that). Rather I pin my hopes on the absurdity of the system becoming too much to bear. If we carry on the way we are, we will soon have twice as many unelected peers, a fair percentage of whom will have paid for their seats or got there by sucking up to party leaders, as elected MPs. The old joke about Britain being a banana republic but without the bananas will seem a little less funny.

Meanwhile, the polls tell me that a defence of the indefensible may be about teach the Conservative Party a profoundly satisfying lesson. If it loses power by a handful of seats at the next election, it will be because it did not get boundary reform through. It did not get boundary reform through because its idiot backbenchers could not accept the Liberal Democrat demand for an elected House of Lords in return. It would be wonderful if the Conservatives were removed from office because of their defence of an institution, which, if I may use plain English in England, stinks – for all Mr Justice Tugendhat’s effort to mask the stench.

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  • David Chipps

    May 19, 2012

    David Elliot Chipps

    Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

    Senator Patrick Leahy

    United States Senate

    Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

    224 Dirksen Senate Office Building

    Washington, DC 20510


    Recently it has come to my attention that Federal District Court District Judge Malachy Mannion has been nominated by President Barack Obama for the position of Federal District Court Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

    This letter concerns that nomination and I would ask you to consider this information as affadavitized testimony in that regard.

    I include herein two copyrighted publications concerning Mannion that have been in circulation among 3,400 media and third parties for almost two years. Both publications state clearly, emphatically, that Federal District Court District Judge Mannion is and has been involved in the use of stark and blatant criminal official oppression and provides some evidentiary basis for this fact. These exact same factual statements are also found in federal District Court Briefs that are on file in the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia [ Supplemental Brief of the Appellant, Third Circuit, No. 98-7456, filed in April, 2000 ].

    To be quite explicit about it since 1987 – almost the entire length of Mannions career – I have been publishing that Mannion has been involved in criminal actions that amount to ‘criminal’ official oppression; ‘criminal conspiracy’; ‘criminal obstruction of justice’; and, the ‘criminal’ violation of federal court precedent established to protect the legal and civil rights of individuals. In fact Mannion’s entire federal career would be more perfectly described as the “epitomy of ultra vire”.

    If the United States Senate Judiciary Committee affirms Mannion’s nomination for the position of Federal District Court Judge you will be, in essence, affirming Mannion’s practice of criminal activity and continuing in the ultra vire court that operates in the Middle and Western Districts of Pennsylvania, and, in the panels of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

    The sole reason that Mannion exists in ultra vire in this federal court system is due to the fact that this government – to include the Attorney General and this very Senate Judiciary Committee – has, in the past, deliberately failed to indict Mannion, and, has been covering-up his criminal activity for political reasons.

    Let me be more specific.

    Almost one year after I first began publishing information about the criminal actions of Mannion and in the federal Middle District Court, in 1987, the Times Leader newspaper published this account of my efforts:

    [ Dec. 11, 1988 ] ‘What other options are left for David Chipps?

    Well, for one, in addition to his still-pending appeals to the Supreme Court, a review

    by the Senate Judiciary Committee is a possibility.

    “It’s gotten to the point now where I’m accusing federal judges of clearly acting

    unconstitutionally,” Chipps says. “If I were a member of the Senate Committee

    and heard that, I’d want to launch an inquiry.” ‘

    And, in fact, I had indeed formally requested that the Senate Judiciary Committee conduct an inquiry into this very matter. Not long after, in January, 1989, United States Senator Joseph Biden – then Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – informed me that the Judiciary Committee would not conduct any inquiry into this matter. That failure to act – and, in my opinion, Biden was covering-up criminal activity in this matter – allowed Mannion and this ultra vire court to continue this criminal activity and official oppression to the present day…almost 23 years now. As well my approaching the US Senate Judiciary Committee was prefectly appropriate in that the Judiciary Committee was and is the only legal entity with the legal authority to remove federal jurists acting in ultra vire.

    In 1986 Mannion and Federal District Court Judge William Nealon were acting concurrently in exercising criminal obstruction. Mannion would repeat this criminal obstruction ten years later, in 1998, with Federal District Court Judge Robert Cindrich even more blatantly. All toll I count 14 federal jurists in the Middle And Western Districts of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals who are hiding behind judicial immunity while either committing criminal acts or sustaining them in ultra vire (to include Federal District Court Judges William Nealon, Robert Cindrich and Yvette Kane and Third Circuit Court Judges Dolores K. Sloviter, Collins J. Seitz and Carol Los Mansmann), and, a cloak of immunity that I am certain Mannion is looking forward to hiding behind to absolve him of criminal actions in the future.

    Let there be no doubt that I have no illusions about what the filth in this government is capable of, however, this is how I will view the affirmation of Mannion to the federal bench.

    Mannions affirmation to me would mean the opportuniy to publish even more information about his criminal activity and those government officials who are aware of this activity and directly responsible for it (to include the present members of the Judiciary Committee). Mannions affirmation would mean the immediate release of some very sensitive information. It seems that at some point in time a juror, or jurors, are going to have the opportunity to refuse to serve on a jury in a courtroom in which Mannion presides because of his criminal activity. I will, among other things, also provide both plaintiffs and defendants with substantive information about Manions criminal conduct, and, provide substantive material testimony of this same conduct in legal actions over which Mannion presides and in which the government is defendant.

    My whole point is that Mannions affirmation will provide me with perfect opportunities to continue to initiate sustained, substantial direct action on an even higher level. I assure that I will avail myself of those opportunities.

    Finally, in 1987, after having made a public appeal to the Senate Judiciary Committee to take action, I continued to provide information to the Judiciary Committee and its members of the criminal activity ongoing in the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Biden was not the only Judiciary Committee member whom I continued to provide a wealth of published information to about this matter. US Senator Orrin Hatch, currently still serving on the Judiciary Committee, was also on my mailing list. For almost ten years after my initial appeal both Biden and Hatch routinely received the published documents in this matter. And, despite the fact that neither Biden or Hatch had anything further to say in those ten years about the criminal activity I was describing it was in fact Hatch who, in 1997, contacted the FBI about the “Nealon letter” that led to my arrest. “Allegedly” Hatch was concerned that the rhetoric in the Nealon letter contained a “threat”, although, in my opinion, Hatch was merely a front man in a black bag scheme by this government to retaliate and attack my credibility because of what I had been publishing.

    I today regard both Biden and Hatch to be perfect examples of the duplicitous filth in this government who are either covering-up this criminal official oppression, or, who are involved in it while publicly mimicking their committment to law and order.



    David E. Chipps

    CC: “The Perfect Choice”

    the “Mannion” pr

    the Times Leader article

    Judiciary Committee members

    Washington Post

    Washington Times

    The Boston Globe

    The New York Times


  • davidhill

    The establishment knows no bounds when it comes to behaviour. In the past day or so we learn that senior Met police officers did not know what was going on with the Stephen Lawrence trial. How on earth two former Met commissioners were not aware of the corrupt activities of their force is unbelievable and if this is correct those under the level of the commissioner who reported directly too them, should be sacked instantly. But these people are now most probably if this is the case, chief or deputy chief constables and the cover-up and nepotism continues indefinitely. The police apparently do not know right from wrong, but where the whole establishment systems should be rigorously analysed for corruption.

    For according to a vast array of independent evidence from many independent sources, the Lawrence case is only the tip of the iceberg and where the establishment systems in the UK, including the police, are generally corrupt when you undertake in-depth research of what is really going on internally within the UK – from corrupt Politians to corrupt police to corrupt local authority officers and councillors. It appears that corruption is endemic within British modern society and the establishment in particular –

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

  • pbr90

    Counting up the things that used to be fraud crimes like cheating that are now done as negligent error, overexuberance, or irrational enthusism recognized as inconsequential shows a lack of integrity at the highest levels, and justified by the most powerful public officials is outrageous, a nation without honor who cares little about its own integrity. When cheating becomes big business, hasn’t America already lost itself?

  • Jeselle Arce

    Thank you for this very informative and extremely detailed description of when the establishment says it isn’t. political corruption

  • barriesingleton

    2010 Election was illegitimate. Corruption is alive and well.

  • nonsequiturcouk

    I think you’re over complicating the problem.

    Firstly, there is no point in having a elected house of lords, it would just be another house of commons and the point of having two perspectives will be lost but –

    That’s not actually the problem. You’re blaming the lords for the corruption of the parties which you so clearly outline.

    The root problem is the selection process, not the lords itself.

  • Repeal the Act!

    Everyone senses the malaise in British politics, but nobody is prepared to stand up and do anything about it. The troubles are not limited to a few MPs or Lords, but also the political activism of HRH Prince of Wales and his political arm WWF-UK.

    Just take a look at all the Parliamentary Briefings on the Energy Bill currently going through the House of Lords!

    Should Prince Charles continue to be the President of the WWF-UK?

    Should the WWF-UK continue to get public funding c.£5 million?

    The WWF-UK is getting too big for its boots. This summer the WWF-UK will open its new £12 million HQ in Woking Surrey! It is beginning to act like a political party only with appointed officials with Prince Charles at its head and no prospect of the public voting against its eccentric ideology or the energy policies they lobby for.

    I do not support the WWF-UK, its ‘Earth Hour’ or environmentalist views on mans relationship to nature. But my taxes are still given to this “charity” organisation.

    Perhaps a new Magna Carta might lead to the re-establishment of representative democracy.

  • John

    Have to agree with Patrick Cullinane’s Comment “In the public interest and the interest of natural justice, It is imperative that the rule of law is RESTORED in the UK immediately.”

  • John

    Have to agree with Patrick Cullinane’s Comment “In the public interest and the interest of natural justice, It is imperative that the rule of law is RESTORED in the UK immediately.”

  • Patrick Cullinane

    Dear Colin Peters and Nick Cohen,

    We are at an age BEFORE Magna Carta right NOW: LAWLESS COURTS, which are operated by the ESTABLISHMENT for private gain.

    The ESTABLISHMENT have denied the People in the UK recourse to Magna Carta, Courts of Law: = Trial by Jury. This, while the National and Local PRESS are willfully turning a blind eye and covering-up this TREASON.

    We the People in the UK will only get Natural Justice when Magna Carta, Trial by Jury is RESTORED in the UK.

    Therefore, please sign my Pledge to RESTORE the Rule of Law and banish the Rule of Judges, Politicians and Police FOREVER. Otherwise We the People in the UK will remain SLAVES to the ESTABLISHMENT; who have HIJACKED the Rule of Law. Which is TREASON: –

    Yours truthfully,

    Patrick Cullinane, Common Law Lawyer and Victim of the UK’s COMMERCIAL Kangaroo Courts.

  • Patrick Cullinane

    Dear Nick Cohen and Others,

    Magna Carta 1215 – The Great Charter has been HIJACKED by the Legal and Judicial Mafia, Politicians and Police for their own enrichment. Which is TREASON.

    The UK is a Common Law jurisdiction. Therefore, due process is via Trial by Jury for every case; civil and criminal. Common Law is the Law of the LAND.

    Trial by Jury is democracy and Trial by Judge is TREASON!

    We now have the rule of Judge, Politician and Police in the UK, which is NOT the Rule of Law.

    In the public interest and the interest of natural justice, It is imperative that the rule of law is RESTORED in the UK immediately.

    Yours truthfully,

    Patrick Cullinane, Common Law Lawyer and Victim of the UK’s COMMERCIAL Kangaroo Courts.

    • Colin Peters

      As victim of the legal, judicial and ‘establishment’ system who lost his home and property to a fraudster who was aided and abetted in his deceptions by lawyers of all ranks, including judges, I agree with Patrick Cullinane that if we are to have the rule of law, we must have Magna Carta restored to us.
      The injustice which I suffered at the hands of lawyers with their hands in each others back pockets would never ever have happened before a jury of my own peers.
      My website tells the story and displays the documentation in proof.

  • TonyB58

    David Lloyd George was at least honest enough to flog honours off to the highest bidder, via his honours broker Maundy Gregory, the only man ever prosecuted for selling honours in this country.
    Nothing surprises me any more regarding our spineless, appeasing, hypocritical, self-serving and venal “Establishment”. Of course its always been this way but it at least today social media makes it more difficult for them to cover it up!

  • harmonicaman

    When is an banker who ruins a bank – evil and must be stripped of titles and awards as well as money to show that we will not take it anymore, the banker must be ridiculed and destroyed ?
    When that banker is not the banker who lends money and gives overdraft facilities all at “special” rates to the Labour Party when that bank starts to go belly up. Then its not a case of demanding the people in charge are made to pay – put in the lefts current version of stocks for ridicule and debasement, no, its raid the pensioners to pay for the bad judgements, don’t ask Labour to repay its loans and overdrafts to ease the burden on the little pay caught up in the fallout – no, its don’t talk about it and shh, move along – nothing to see here

  • SteveCooke

    The doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty gives Parliament unlimited competence to make or unmake laws as it sees fit. That was the basis of Tugendhat’s decision.

    However, rather than apply the law to a particular set of facts and come to a reasonable conclusion – he merely reinforced a disingenuous constitutional “fact,”

  • John Symes

    “Meanwhile his statement that ‘this court cannot declare to be corrupt, as a matter of fact, the system of party funding authorised by Parliament and adopted by the Conservative and other parties’ manages to sum up everything that is wrong with British complacency in one sentence.”

    And your one sentence, Mr Cohen, sums up everything that is wrong with the complacent Left in this country. Like it or not, Tugendhat J was summing up what is the law in this country and how it applied in this case. Because you, and your tame lefty trolls in the Comments section (“Great article, Nick!” “Well said.” “Nick I want to have your babies!!!! OMG! LOL” etc) do not like that judgement (either through political difference, class envy or bloody-minded Gramiscian truculence), you resort to personal attacks, straw men attacks and diversions (what exactly does the House of Lords have to do with this?) to camouflage a weak, pointless and meandering argument for the sake of it. If you consider the law to be wrong, then campaign to change it. Don’t impugn a judge’s motives or character – which you do – just because he is upholding the law.

    You are thought of as an intelligent man, Mr Cohen. Why do you lower yourself to Spode-like shenanigans just to garner a few extra internet hits? You will be wearing black shorts next.

  • jagdish kadvekar

    In a country like Britain (as elsewhere), the two main political parties are open to many sources of influences simply because when either one wins the election, the victory confers the party’s ministers very wide powers.

    Does the word “corruption” have much sense given these wide powers? Suppose Mr. Cruddas was an stauch “green” ideologue, who scorned money, but who acted as an agent for the green lobby, promising them that billions of pounds of ethanol subsidies would be attempted.

    Which is better , using this imaginary example? Mr. Cruddas accepting a (relatively) small amount to block huge public expenditure, or Mr. Cruddas refusing a small amount to encourage huge public expenditure.

    Mr. Cohen does not seem to appreciate that Englishmen and women are free to contribute as they please to political parties, just as English ministers are free to exercise their powers (in lieu of money or votes) in the way they see fit, given the wide scope of their powers.

    This is what the judge has said. He is right in deciding for Mr. Cruddas. The fault lies not with Mr. Cruddas using the rules of the system, but with the rules themselves.

  • Hugh

    “It is not up to a judge to start pontificating on the practicality or
    otherwise of state funding. These are political questions that ought to
    be beyond his brief”

    He doesn’t say state funding is impractical as far as I can tell. He seems to suggest “it’s not provided for by law”, which is a statement of fact. Furthermore, the judge in the preceding paragraph notes that “if the Defendants had chosen to defame
    Mr Cruddas for doing no more than raise funds in accordance with the law… they could have done so. The CSPL Reports show that many people regard the present practice as discreditable.”

    In fact, it seems the court held the Times was alleging a couple of other things in calling him “corrupt”: That he was breaking the law, and that he was continuing in a way not consistent with the Tories’ public position on funding. In both cases, the court found it wasn’t true.

  • John David Gillings

    two points..
    Firstly, the boundary change /H. of L debacle was the Libdems doing…because they could not get consensus on Cleggs scheme they scuppered boundary revision….and the judge ruled that the present system of party funding was not illegal, or corrupt per se…even if it tends to be corrupted…an important distinction.

  • TristanPriceWilliams

    We may as well say that selling honours is legal, then.

    I tried the other day to explain to a Hungarian and a Bulgarian what the house of Lords is, and how it is populated (hereditary aristocrats, archbishops and bishops of the religion of one of the constituent states of the UK but not of the others, and aristocrats created so as placemen by some, but not all, political parties operating in the union, including in their number people who have been rejected by the electorate). I also explained that these people are given titles and that their children are entitled to be called “The Honourable”.

    They thought I was pulling their legs.

    Given that some among their number have been found guilty of theft; members of the House of Commons likewise; that members of the royal family sell themselves for money; that the police sell information to journalists, that journalists think nothing of hacking phones of dead children, that judges charged with conducting inquiries seem to rely on Wikipedia for information despite being supplied with limitless funds to employ researchers, and that financial institutions alter figures like LIBOR in order to make themselves even more money while companies employ every possible scam to reduce the tax they pay, I find myself thinking that the UK must be one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.

  • ConnieHinesDorothyProvine

    Let’s not forget that in 1994, Newt Gingrich used buzzwords like corrupt just to help bring his party to power in the US.

  • E Hart

    Well said. The peculiar disjuncture between what is legal and moral is at the heart of this and our political system. The law is a craven follower of power, patronage and privilege. In this instance it’s merely doing its duty to rubber stamp actions which, from anything other than a legal standpoint, look morally dubious. Unfortunately, it can do little else because of the means by which people enter the House of Lords. The only answer is to abolish it in its present form and elect members to a newly constituted second chamber.

    As you say, anyone looking in from the outside can see that it stinks. The House of Lords continues to be the same politically gerrymandered canker it ever was. What’s amazing is that in 2013 this feudal anachronism is still the subject of discussion.

    • therealguyfaux

      No less a personage than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the US Supreme Court made it a point to tell young law students that they should never confuse “moral” with “legal.” His thought experiment was for them to see it through the eyes of “The Bad Man,” who was not so much interested in what the source of the law is, nor how we are to divine such wisdom, as he was interested in what the judge and jury are likely to say if he’s ever hauled into court. Basically, the Law consists of whatever the system is letting you get away with this week, according to Holmes.

      You don’t like it, change the Law– oops, that’s the legislature’s job. The judiciary’s job is to work with what it’s given. And if the legislature, with a nod and wink, passes unclear laws that a judge has to construe for them to make any sense, that’s how it goes. And then the judge gets blamed– but as Holmes would be the first to tell you, anyone going into that racket has taken (or should have taken) that into account in the first place. It may not be a morally-defensible practice, but hey, it’s legal!

      • E Hart

        I agree. But if there is no morality underpinning the law it has no real validity. What’s it for?

      • John David Gillings

        Except of course that O W Holmes presided over a system in which the Court rather than the Legislature makes law ( as recently) under the guise of interpreting the ‘primary law’..the US Constitution itself…since we don’t have a Constitution, we can have no concept of ‘Constitutionalism’….though arguably the HRA is a start….

        • therealguyfaux

          One of Holmes’s predecessors, Chief Justice John Marshall, put it this way:

          “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

          Which is to say that, just as you’re liable to hear a soundbite by a politician saying something and then hear a pundit telling you what the pol REALLY said, i.e., the real purport, the Legislature writes the laws, the Executive enforces them (or evades doing so at times), but the Judiciary is the one who’s supposed to figure out what it is that’s meant to be being enforced, and to tell you what the REAL deal is. At least in theory.

          Give the US Constitutional system some credit, though– at least there is a document which, by its own terms, trumps any last-in-time legislation not consistent with it. There is not the ruse of an Act of Parliament passed which is then rendered nugatory by its tortured interpretation; the US supremos tell you straight out, “Nope, that law sucks, get rid of it!”

          • John David Gillings

            I agree..except that under the UK system Parliament is ( or rather was…thats another story) sovereign, and thus may make any law it wishes unless ultra vires, whilst in the US the Constitution is ‘sovereign’ in the sense of being the supreme law from which all other law derives legitimacy. After 200 plus years, parts are obsolete, others downright dangerous ( 2nd Amendment) or inimical to democracy (Electoral College) …and this plus the vagaries of SC interpretation based on ideology ( the recent Voting Rights case) and the ability of the court to say precisely the opposite of what they originally said ( ie in Plessey v Ferguson 1897 segregation was said to be Constitutional…in Brown v Topeka Board 1954 it was said to be unconstitutional….and there are lots of other examples…how long before Roe v Wade is thrown out?)..a legal jurisdiction which constantly revokes precedent is unsettling, and tends towards political instability…Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia has filled shelves with his proposed reforms to the Constitution….meanwhile we in the UK are slowly and reluctantly? assuming Judicial review under the HRA

            • John David Gillings

              of course you can argue that John Marshall personally invented Judicial review in Marbury V Madison …now there was a complicated judgement!

  • s_o_b

    Whilst also not wishing to divert too far from the overall tenor of the article, Mr. Cohen states “It did not get boundary reform through because its idiot backbenchers could not accept the Liberal Democrat demand for an elected House of Lords in return.”

    If you read the Coalition agreement a couple of points are very clear.

    Firstly, the Conservatives did not commit to supporting proposals for Lords Reform. They committed to bringing forward proposals for consideration.

    Secondly, reforming boundaries and reducing the number of MPs was specifically linked to a referendum on AV, NOT to HoL reform.

    When Clegg lost the referendum he had another of his little hissy fits and looked for a way to pursue his other constitutional obsession and then, after the fact, linked HoL reform with boundary changes.

    • Whyshouldihavetoregister

      Yup. Saves me the trouble of pointing it out. Nick must try harder next term.

  • David_Boothroyd

    Tugendhat’s judgment was in a libel case. He had to decide whether it was libellous to describe conduct which was entirely lawful as ‘corrupt’, and decided it was.

    Remember the definition of corruption and his decision must be correct. To corrupt a process is to insert into it something that shouldn’t be part of it. But nowhere was it intended that the decision by a Government to award a peerage should not be influenced by financial and political support given by the recipient. It’s been happening for centuries, it’s what peerages were intended for, and so however much it is reprehensible, it cannot be corrupt.

    By the same token, the fact that some pre-Reform Parliamentary boroughs were created because it was known that their elections would be under the control of a patron, means that the system of pocket boroughs before 1832 was not in itself corrupt. It was how things were meant to be.

    • John David Gillings

      I agree…there is a distinction, narrow but important, between ‘corrupt’ per se, and ‘liable to be corrupted’…

  • CreamOnTop

    Redefining words is the new skill. fraud = mis-selling = PFI overspend = PFI.

    The US has of course redefined not torturing and not murdering people or at least not told the spokesmen for the Military Holder and Obama what they do.

  • TheEnglishConstitutionalist

    Noting Nick Cohen’s point below:

    “I want to look at the judge’s reasoning instead, because it unconsciously reveals how platitudes, evasions and logical fallacies hide corruption in British public life.”

    The only qualifier that needs to be added is this:

    It does not reveal the corruption in British publicly UNCONSCIOUSLY at all.

    It is very conscious.

    It is part and parcel of the corrupt culture that still dominates in and the public life.

    The reasoning that judges give is often a complete and utter violation and opposite of what they profess and or claim to be doing.

    The corruption of the judiciary must be the title of the overdue update on J A G Griffith’s work the Politics of the Judiciary [First Editions published in 1977]!

    Life-altering defamation is perpetrated daily by the powerful Media outfits against people whom they know to be unable to fund the actions in courts where the likes of Tugendhart pontificate and thereby aid and perpetuate the denial of justice and the negation of truth.

    There is serious injustice built in the system of defamation claims in the English courts.

  • McKinney

    It’s a minor point in the context of the article’s general thrust, but it is a woeful or willful misreading of the passage quoted to assert that that Tugendhat was “pontificating on the practicality or otherwise of state funding”. It’s given as an example of a funding model “not provided for by law”.

    Saying that the current system is “practical” may be contentious, but it doesn’t follow from what the judge wrote that he implicitly considers state funding impractical; he merely points out that it’s not on the table.

  • rch427

    “As if to show how, a new honours list
    came out within days, and men who had donated money to the
    Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats received peerages in
    return. They had bought seats in Parliament – and seats for life, mark

    When has it ever not been thus? Anyone who bothers to look back through
    nearly a thousand years of British history will see that peerages were
    invariably dispensed for services to those in power, including the
    loaning (or donating) of money, or for being particularly ruthless in
    battle, for being the offspring (legitimate or not) of a monarch, etc.
    Why pretend otherwise? Did you really think that peerages were handed
    out simply to the most virtuous in the land? How would *you* propose
    doling them out? You’re either going to be ruled by the mob (democracy) or by the rich and powerful elite (and good luck with setting up a meritocracy that doesn’t devolve into either). The only system that seems to be a workable compromise is using both to check and balance the other.

    Also, it’s worth noting that most of those mentioned in the Honours List
    were not lacking political or civic backgrounds; most of them have been
    involved with charitable works for many years, and many of them have
    years of government service.

    • Oedipus Rex

      Oh, so a few hundred years of corruption makes it ok then?
      I’ll stay with what you call ‘the mob’ (& that says a hellover lot about you, fella), than a load of ex-politicos, establishment bishops (some of whom talk the most incredible rubbish) and those who have ‘years of government service’. The lack of accountability in the lords is unmatched anywhere in decent civic society – but you’ll happily go along with it like all the mugs before because a tiny few have done some work for charity. Pathetic.

      • rch427

        Again — what’s your alternative? I doubt you have one; all I can hear are axes grinding.

        “The mob” is what *any* democracy is stuck with, and that failing has been recognized from the ancient Greeks through the US Founding Fathers, and right up to political theorists today.

        You choose to disparage one group of people (“ex-politicos, establishment bishops…those who have years of government service”, et al) because of their alleged failings, but at the same time, you refuse to acknowledge that the alternative group is a populace that is largely ignorant, superstitious and fickle. That’s an improvement over the first group? I doubt it.

        If the mob could be trusted to make sensible decisions, McDonald’s wouldn’t be the most popular “restaurant” in Britain, and Jordan wouldn’t be one of its best-selling “authors”. The sad reality is that most people are idiots and any democracy will invariably suffer as a result. People get the government they deserve. This is nowhere as true as in the US where most of my fellow citizens are even more foolish than the average Briton. But instead of calling for our rulers’ heads on pikes, it seems far more sensible to me to acknowledge that humans will probably never manage to rule themselves sensibly, and to simply hope that the worst excesses of those in control can be moderated by a system of checks and balances. And that’s something you already have in Britain.

        • John David Gillings

          The US system had built in ‘checks and balances’ in the Constitution to curb the executive power. Government is only possible if the Congress cooperates with the President..if it fails/refuses to, as now, the result is a paralysis of Government, and rising discontent. I think the present situation in the US is actually quite dangerous.

    • Richard Thomas

      It was called Old Corruption in the 18th century and it’s still the same now.

      • rch427

        And in the 23rd century, it will probably be called “New Corruption” and the world will keep on turning, and Britain’s citizenry will still succeed or fail by dint of their own efforts. *shrugs*

  • Oedipus Rex

    Great article Nick. The only way out of this is for either total abolishment of the so-called ‘Lords’ or serious reform. Of course, were that to happen we would be left with only one state ‘institution’ that is heredity and that is why we have such a difficult task in doing the former in the first place.