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

Today's front pages should be taken seriously


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

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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:

  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.

Comments are closed.