‘Proud’ to keep the law? May’s Qatada comment speaks volumes

First of all, apologies for being quiet for a while. Moving house takes a lot of time and attention, and with the best intentions I failed to keep up with any form of my ‘online life’.

On Monday, Home Secretary Theresa May made a Commons statement on the finally-realised deportation of ‘hate preacher’ Abu Qatada to Jordan. Whatever your opinions on the issues, there was a comment from May that spoke volumes about the Tory worldview.

Speaking about the lengthy legal process to move Qatada out of the UK (though in the end he only left because he ‘agreed’ to), Ms May said,

We did not ignore court judgements we did not like. We did not act outside of the law. We did what was right. And for a civilised nation, that is something of which we should be immensely proud.

I wonder whether that final sentence strikes you as it does me. “We kept the law – and for a civilised nation that is something of which we should be immensely proud”. Not even just ‘proud’, but ‘immensely.

The thing is, a civilised nation shouldn’t be ‘proud’ to keep the law, let alone immensely proud. It’s a basic qualification to be considered a civilised nation in the first place. It’s the equivalent of passing potty training. It’s ok for a 2- or 3-year-old to be proud of not wearing a nappy – but if a grown man or woman was proud of it, you’d consider there was some kind of problem, whether medical or, more likely, psychological.

I’m not proud that I can tie my own shoelaces. There would be something wrong with me if I couldn’t.

I’m not proud that I can brush my teeth. That’s a minimum expectation for a grown, fit human being.

I’m not proud that I can use a computer – some people can’t, but it’s basically just what everyone does these days.

I’m not even proud of less universal things, like being able to drive. They’re just part of my minimum expectation of myself.

Yet Ms May, and presumably her Tory colleagues on the front bench, are ‘immensely proud that they kept the law – something which we’re all expected to do, and expect consequences if we don’t.

There was a similar incident during the London mayoral contest last year, when Boris Johnson said that he was proud to pay his taxes, as if it were something optional that he was choosing to do anyway. It isn’t, of course – or at least, not for us ‘little people’. But for a certain stratum of society, that’s exactly how they see it. The rules are different for them – at least in their worldview.

That Ms May is ‘immensely proud’ that her government that her government respected the rule of law speaks volumes – immense volumes – about the worldview of Tory frontbenchers: how they see themselves, and the law, and us. For us, keeping the law is obligatory, and failures to do so are punishable – and to the Tory mindset must be punished severely. For them, it’s a ‘nice to have’, something to do if you feel like it and then pat yourself on the back about afterward.

It’s possible you think I’m making too much of a single phrase. But my observation has already been borne out in practice. Ms May’s elaboration of her ‘pride’ included:

We did not ignore court judgements we did not like. We did not act outside of the law.

This is not something hypothetical or hyperbolic. When the court ruling on the ‘Poundland geologist’ case earlier this year, that’s exactly what the government did. Deciding that it didn’t like the court’s judgment, it broke centuries of legal precedent to retrospectively change the law, making its illegal actions legal after the fact – depriving millions of poor people of their right to claim back payments of money that they should never have been deprived of in the first place.

This government operates on a distasteful mix of self-righteousness and appealing to the base instincts of the ignorant, acting and speaking as though any reasonable person could only possibly agree with their decisions and policies.

But scratch beneath the surface just a nanometre and the ugly, arrogant truth shows through. In many cases, you don’t even have to scratch; the truth will out, as they say, and in the oddest ways and phrases these detached and privileged politicians will let slip their real nature and intent.

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16 responses to “‘Proud’ to keep the law? May’s Qatada comment speaks volumes

  1. Pingback: 'Proud' to keep the law? May's Qatada comment s...·

  2. there’s a difference between the law and justice. I appears My’s plot to use him as an excuse to shirk our human rights has failed as he went willingly but the real terrorists and hate mongers “the tories” remain. They persistently break the law and i’ve yet to see them act civilized especially to the sick or unemployed or for that matter, poor working families. I see a country which would make a civilization like the vikings vomit in disgust. I am not proud to be british and will never be until the day when politics has safeguards such as required qualifications and background checks including psychology and isn’t based on which party can afford the best electorial campaign. The same goes for law. Law should not be biased to who can afford the best legal representation.

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  3. You are bang on as ever Steve … just typical of this lot with their Pick’n’mix approach to the law.

    [Steve, can I also give you a link to an Early Day Motion re Foodbanks and Poverty that I’ve just heard about this morning … don’t know if you’re already aware of this but I thought you’d want to know about it. This is asking for an inquiry into the links between benefit changes, delays, sanctions etc and the huge rise in foodbank use.
    http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/223
    hope you don’t mind me posting this here 🙂 ]

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  4. Reblogged this on Grannie's Last Mix and commented:
    Here’s yet another good example of the way Tories betray their true colours through the way they use language. Just as Lord Freud demonstrates the Tories live in a world where people only do things for profit and personal gain when he said food banks were popular because they gave away free goods so Theresa May reveals how sticking to the law is not a taken for granted way of doing things in the Tory mind set but an option and something they can capitalise on as propaganda when they choose to take that option but downplay and defend when they prefer to retrospectively change the law. See more hypocrisy here http://wp.me/p3mYc5-9M

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  5. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    “This government operates on a distasteful mix of self-righteousness and appealing to the base instincts of the ignorant, acting and speaking as though any reasonable person could only possibly agree with their decisions and policies.” That’s right – there’s an unwarranted expectation of ‘entitlement’ – that they somehow have a right to behave in this repugnant way.

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  6. This is really important, something that could easily be overlooked but which captures the Tory mindset and how dangerous that is for most of us. About to reblog.

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  7. Reblogged this on paurina and commented:
    This is really important, something that could easily be overlooked but which captures the Tory mindset and how dangerous that is for most of us.

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  8. The power of state is so huge that ordinary people have to have the protection of the law. Fortunately we have a long constitutional tradition of the limiting of the powers of the executive, whether Royalty or democratically elected govt.

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  9. Pingback: ‘Proud’ to keep the law? May’...·

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