The media has declared war on the judiciary. What now?

Today's front pages should be taken seriously

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Pointing out that attacks on the judiciary are an early indicator of democratic collapse feels melodramatic, hysterical even.

All the same, today’s front pages demonstrate that Britain is moving — and has already moved — in a very disturbing direction, and that must be taken seriously.

The Mail declares that the three high court judges who ruled that parliament should vote on Article 50 are ‘enemies of the people’, accusing them of having ‘declared war on democracy’.

‘The judges versus the people,’ the Telegraph splashes, simultaneously attempting to soften the messages and fan the flames.

Its front page also features a comment piece from Nigel Farage, in which the UKIP leader claims that ‘rich elites’ are ‘thwarting’ the will of the people — by which he means that citizens are seeking recourse from the courts, and judges are doing their jobs and upholding the law.

The Sun, meanwhile, chooses to attack the citizen claimants who brought the case, rather than the judges themselves. It’s already been reported that claimant Gina Miller has received rape and death threats following the ruling.

These efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the judiciary are serious and disturbing. Both the press and the courts are vital components of a functioning democracy and, while they may vehemently disagree, each should respect the other’s role.

These three judges were not acting as rich elites, or activists, or europhiles. They were doing the jobs, for which they are highly qualified, and shouldn’t be vilified as a result. (remember that yesterday the Mail saw fit to highlight that one of the three, Sir Terence Etherton, has the temerity to be ‘openly gay’).

This is also about more than simply these three judges, or these particular claimants. With these acts of public intimidation, the press and the hard right send a warning to anyone else who might question the government’s approach to Brexit — ‘speak out and you will get the same treatment’.

Of course, it’s unlikely that these sentiments herald the onset of fascism in the UK, but they do contribute to a dangerously febrile political atmosphere. It’s not so long ago that an MP was killed in the street by a man who espoused precisely this rhetoric of treachery, seemingly believing that Jo Cox, too, was ‘an enemy of the people.’

With a snap election looking increasingly likely, the national mood is only going to become more heated. Before that happens, the editors of the right-wing press should reflect on the potential consequences of sowing hysteria and division.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

See also: Daily Mail huffs about ‘openly gay’ Article 50 judge – before line disappears

17 Responses to “The media has declared war on the judiciary. What now?”

  1. Mick

    “Look how the Sun has darkened Gina Miller’s skin compared to the Times.” The exposure’s just different, as you can see on the cardigan. Stop making up tales, Left.

    They interpreted British law, as-per their job description. But that doesn’t mean to say that’s right, especially given judges’ EU or New Labour backgrounds. This isn’t the be-all and end-all, as lefties know when they clamour for reviews and retrials of stuff. And as we saw before, Remainers are the ones bringing these cases and arguments to confuse and block Brexit at every stage. Remainers every time.

    This article could have packed a punch, it’s that just LFF wheeled out epithets about fascism and Jo Cox to underscore its real agenda. Same old Project Fear. Even Cox’s HUSBAND said Brexit had nothing to do with the brutal killing. Indeed, Labour people chuck death threats at each other, so it’s more about deviancy.

    If you read the Mail article itself, you’ll find its profile of John Thomas (?) in particular is balanced and interesting: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3903436/Enemies-people-Fury-touch-judges-defied-17-4m-Brexit-voters-trigger-constitutional-crisis.html

  2. Marc Dauncey

    Remainers are nearly half the country. The idea that we aren’t going to be represented (because such actions ‘confuse’ and ‘block’ – please) is unacceptable. Tough for you that you can’t roll over the rest of us in your mad rush over the cliff.

  3. Marc Dauncey

    And then he posts an article from the Daily Heil to ‘prove’ his point. So much for being a ‘leftie’

  4. Mick

    Nobody said Remainers have no representation – Brexit could still be easily blocked in the courts and Parliament – it’s just that stakes are higher than even a General Election, when the question rises beyond how a guaranteed Brexit is delivered.

    52% of us voted for the off switch. Are we instead to be given a dimmer, left mostly or partially on? Or even no switch at all?

    And I never said I was a leftie. I’m sure that’s actionable, buddy! And why not read the actual article to see for yourselves?

  5. Mick

    “Tough for you that you can’t roll over the rest of us in your mad rush over the cliff.”

    Project Fear. That reminds me of all that guff about trains leaving stations, when that fabulous, failsafe Eurozone was launched.

  6. David Lindsay

    I have a soft spot for the House of Lords, which is far more politically diverse than the House of Commons has been in many a long year. But you have been told for 45 years that you could have the House of Lords, or you could have withdrawal from the EU. Having both was not an option. That matter is about to come to a head. The Lords was always going to block the Bill that sought to repeal the European Communities Act for a year, and then send it back to the Commons in an unrecognisable form. Even before that, though, it now intends to do the same to the Bill that merely sought to authorise the invocation of Article 50. Tony Benn tried to tell you.

    Labour MPs may dislike Jeremy Corbyn, or disagree with him, or both. But none of them has left the party. At least, not voluntarily or on policy grounds; there is always Simon Danczuk. Nor has any of them left Parliament. Whereas Theresa May has lost two MPs from both, on two different issues. Corbyn is a dazzlingly brilliant Leader by comparison. Is there going to be a Conservative candidate against Stephen Phillips? I don’t see why, since there isn’t going to be one against Zac Goldsmith, who is also standing against a major Government policy.

  7. Mick

    “Whereas Theresa May has lost two MPs from both, on two different issues. Corbyn is a dazzlingly brilliant Leader by comparison.”

    On the same logic, it’s Theresa May who is the brilliant leader. She only lost two, while Corbyn lost a whole shadow cabinet in thier protest over Hillary Benn going. One or two came grovelling back but it’s still a big tussle over who dominates the Labour Loony Toons episode.

    Duck season, rabbit season, duck season, rabbit season. It’s not Elmer Fudd doing the blasting, it’s each other! We’ve a lull now but they’re still no good.

    Yes, the old man did tell us. I’ve agreed with next to nothing Tony Benn ever said but there always seems one big thing anyone could follow in his speeches. And with me it was the issue of true Parliamentary sovereignty. Parliamentary sovereignty still in jeopardy thanks to modern Parliamentarians!

    Riddles like that are ambrosia to the Remain camp. Slogans like ‘you won’t drag us off the cliff with you’ are unwitting proof that they broadcast their intentions to wreck Brexit with every ounce of their beings. It’s for our own good that the 52% shouldn’t have our way without breaking teeth and nails.

  8. chris owen

    Can the editors be charged for treason?

  9. Jimmy Glesga

    The courts and the press should accept the referendum result. If the remainers had won then their would have been no recourse for the leave. What is happening is the remainers will not accept the result and will use all means to subvert the democratic decision. The press have the right to point this out.

  10. Mick

    “Can the editors be charged for treason?”

    What do the Left care for treason, when it suits them?

    Indeed, as lefty Alan Bennett said on Radio 4 this week, there’s much to admire in traitors. As he says, traitors aren’t constrained. With….. what? Normality? Honour? Decency? Not being a whackjob keen on your enemies?

    Ah, the Left. Upsetting them is suddenly treason.

  11. Michael WALKER

    Can the editors be charged for treason?

    What is treasonable about criticising judges?

    Please quote the law which says we can have free speech as long as judges are not criticised.

  12. Peter Dow

    The Queen’s judges in this kingdom ARE INDEED “the enemies of the people”.

    Any journalist might know all about the enemy judges if they’ve spent any time at all in jail on the orders of one of the Queen’s bogus bench-men or bench-women.

    Or even if journalists or their newspaper or broadcasting organisation have had a judges’ gagging order served on them, threatening them with contempt of court and jail if they publish some information they felt was important to be published, or if they’ve had a damages award against them for what they have had published.

    Let’s not forget that the Dunblane Primary School massacre wasn’t prevented because the fear of legal action deterred newspapers from publishing the concerns about Hamilton, which if they had been published could have led to him losing his firearms certificate and his right to hold the guns with which he killed the children.
    http://scot.tk/dunblane.htm

    So the Queen’s judges and their defamation laws cost the lives of the children of Dunblane – and the lives of other innocents lost at many other preventable disasters too no doubt.

    Of course the Queen’s judges are the enemies of the people.

  13. GodfreyR

    The Daily Mail often prints what the majority thinks.

  14. Mick

    Yes. And so often the Left and Remainers are just the faces at the window, looking bewildered. And desperate to impose their will.

  15. Law Man

    It is notable that previous comments are largely based on the commentator’s view as to whether we should Leave or Stay in the EU.
    .
    The whole point is that this is irrelevant; as the judges and many others have made clear.
    .
    So what is the point? That we have a democratic constitution with separation of powers: parliament makes the law, the courts interpret it, and the executive implements it. If you condemn the courts you condemn democracy and invite dictatorship.
    .
    The acid test is this: as one who voted Leave, would I accept the outcome if the Supreme Court reverses the decision? Of course I would.

  16. Mick

    There’s also a difference of dealing with court decisions within and outside the law. And within and outside common decency; outside both is so often the Left’s department. They even break into power stations, government offices and amenities if they don’t like the way electricity’s made, a town is run – or even how a Labour council funds a library.

    Nothing is being mooted which is unconstitutional from Brexiteers. Indeed, quacks like Corbyn tell us that unless Theresa May submits to his demands, he will order his minions to reject Brexit! What a vile creature he is. And as he’s the leader, we have to take him at his word.

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