The Supreme Court’s Judgment on Prorogation

My prediction that the Supreme Court would decide that Government’s prorogation of Parliament was entirely wrong. I do not understand the reasoning of the decision.

In this case several features stand out.

  1. The eleven justices all made a single judgment; there was no dissenting opinion, which is odd considering that equally senior judges including the Lord Chief Justice, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division and the Master of the Rolls already made a decision which was precisely the opposite of that of the Supreme Court decided. It may be that the Supreme Court judges decided that because of the constitutional importance they had better put dissent to one side an publish a single decision even though some of them may have disagreed with it.
  2. The judges stressed that the case was not about Brexit. They were wrong. The case was entirely about Brexit. Those opposing the prorogation did so not because they were genuinely opposed to a five week prorogation during the party conference season, but because they wanted to hinder the government’s efforts to improve the deal negotiated by Mrs May and/or to prevent Brexit at all. Their best means of hindrance was to keep the Parliament open so that the sound bites of those opposing Brexit would continue to criticise the government and that criticism would receive all due publicity. It was not about Parliamentary scrutiny – the intended prorogation had left sufficient time for that – it was about preventing Brexit and/or embarrassing the government who cannot now govern at all because of the way in which the House of Commons will continue to prevent the government from doing virtually anything.
  3. The judgment recognises the principle that parliament is sovereign over the government but reduces the government’s powers to prorogue which most constitutional lawyers believed that the government had to prorogue Parliament for short periods in times of crisis.
  4. The judgment fails to recognise that the people are sovereign over Parliament.
  5. The judgment did not fairly reflect that this was a new area of law upon which there had been little precedent and therefor different opinions about the law were not only possible but to be expected. The words of Lady Hale gave the impression that the government had knowingly acted unlawfully. This was unfair, especially as she had described the case as “a one off”.
  6. The heart of the decision of the supreme Court is, in my opinion, contained in these words Prorogation “will be unlawful if the prorogation has the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive. In such a situation, the court will intervene if the effect is sufficiently serious to justify such an exceptional course. 51. That standard is one that can be applied in practice.
  7. The court, having set the standard (for the first time) measured what it knew about the government’s decision and measure it against that standard. It found the government wanting. This inevitably means that any future government of any hue will find the exercise of any prerogative power being examined in court at the behest of their political opponents. It is not a consummation that we would find helpful, democratically or politically especially when the meaning of “without reasonable justification” is ligated time and time again, as it will be in future.

Parliament re-opened today in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court. As far as I can see no time was spent on scrutinising legislation but on hurling insults and criticism across the chamber. I expect this to continue for weeks to come.

Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

In August of this year the monthly average of atmospheric carbon dioxide as measured at Mauna Loa was 409.95 parts per million, an increase of 3 parts per million in the past twelve months. In 1992 the concentration was 367 parts per million. In 1950 it was 310 ppm.

Mauna Loa is a good place to get accurate CO2 measurements; It is 3,400 meters high in the middle of the ocean, so it can sample an air mass that has already been fully mixed from the inputs and outputs of CO2 far below its summit and far away from it. It is surrounded by many miles of bare lava, helping to eliminate variations in the measurement from the respiration of vegetation.

The wheels of climate change throughout history have ground slowly, but those wheels are beginning to turn more rapidly now, as humanity increases its numbers, its industrialisation and its emissions.

Protests about climate change

On Friday many school children gave up a day’s worth of education to protest that governments are not doing enough to combat climate change. It is an odd thing to do.

First and foremost these school children only learned about climate change from their education. To give up a day’s worth of learning is an odd sacrifice to make, if it was regarded by the school children as a sacrifice. Giving up a day’s schooling is not hard work – when i was at school I would have welcomed it, not looked on it as a sacrifice.

If the children gave up a day’s holiday to protest about climate change I could understand that as a possibly worthy sacrifice but I have doubts about the effectiveness of protest and it is clear that most forms of protest, such as trying to close the port of Dover, will create more emissions than if they let the port alone.

I would be impressed and appreciative if the children gave up a day’s holiday to take measures personally to reduce rapid climate change and environmental damage, such as planting trees, or picking up plastic from beaches, rivers, watercourses and sending the plastic to be recycled, spending their holidays thinking about solutions to prevent the climate extinction they fear, instead of protesting that politicians and others are not doing the thinking for them.

Planting trees and cleaning up is harder work than joining a protest.

Closing Doors that lead to Nowhere

I see that Guy Verhofstadt has told Members of the European Parliaments “Juncker or Tusk can do a lot of things, but at least they cannot close the doors of our house”. That statement is true but it missed the point entirely, and like much of what comes out of Mr Verhofstadt’s mouth is misleading.

The European Parliament has virtually no powers when compared with the UK Parliament. The European Parliament cannot introduce legislation or bring new laws into being. In those circumstances there is no point to closing the doors of the European Parliament. They lead to nowhere.

The Supreme Court v Politicians

As I write the Supreme Court, with all of its eleven Lord Justices sitting, is listening to submissions about whether the proroguing of Parliament was lawful. The hearing which is expected to last for three days is being conducted politely, as is the custom of all court hearings in England and Wales, and not with the insults, innuendo and propaganda that has accompanied political debate in the past months.

Points are being argued firmly and politely. No one is claiming that the Prime Minister is a rogue or will act unlawfully. He is not being slandered in the Supreme Court. The lawyers concentrate on being accurate in their arguments. This is in stark contrast to the way that the politicians have behaved, particularly those opposing Brexit, some of whom have been quite disgraceful in the unrelenting slanders they have hurled.

I fully expect the Supreme Court, politely and without impugning the personality of any politician, to rule in favour of the Government’s proroguing of Parliament.

If you cannot Beat it, live with it

A wind travelling at 185 miles an hour (about 300kph) is a very strong wind indeed. Humans do not build settlements where such winds are even a remote a possibility, or so we thought until Hurricane Dorian devastated the North Bahamas. Thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged severely. Only seven people have died, thanks to the ability of humans to predict the impact of Hurricane Dorian and the efforts of the local government to warn and prepare people for this apocalypse.

Hurricanes start when there is warm water (around and above 28 Celsius) and warm air.

Warm air from the ocean surface begins to rise rapidly. The air is naturally moist, coming from the ocean. When the warm air meets cooler air as it rises the warm moist air condenses and forms storm clouds and drops of rain. The condensation releases heat, which warms the cool air above the warm air, causing it to rise to bring more warm, moist air from the ocean .

The warm, moist air is drawn into a developing storm and more heat is transferred from the surface of the ocean to the atmosphere. This continuing heat exchange creates a wind pattern that spirals violently around a relatively calm center and so a hurricane is born.

The important word in this explanation is “warm”. The air is warmed, the oceans are warmed and this begets hurricanes.

Hurricanes have always been with those who live where the air is warmed and the sea is warmed but in the last century or more the sea has been warming and so has the air more than usual because the heat that the planet naturally receives cannot escape or dissipate into space as it had done for centuries because now the earth has a blanket of insulation, made up of an increasing thick layer carbon dioxide, deposited by kind permission of humanity and its activities.

I do not blame global warming for the creation of Hurricane Dorian – that would be a far too simplistic approach, but I do blame human activities for making hurricanes like Dorian (the most violent in recorded history in the Bahamas) more likely.

It is probably too late to reverse global warming or do much about climate change except to possibly try to slow it down. Humanity, it is clear to me, does not have the appetite to do what must be done to reverse or slow down climate change. It will probably have the appetite to build better and stronger protection against extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding. If you can’t beat it, live with it.

Lord Kyriakides?

I have always fancied a title. Perhaps I can put my name forward to Mr Johnson. It seems that the House of Lords is very biased towards staying in the European Union and Mr Johnson may need to create 500 or so new life peers who support Brexit in order to get Brexit over the line.

Now I am a democratic and am in favour of the abolition of the House of Lords but as it is there and could stand in the way of Brexit I am prepared to do my democratic duty and become a life peer, if Mr Johnson can put my name forward to the Queen.

It would tick all the diversity boxes imaginable – there are no peers of Greek Cypriot/Czechoslovak origin at all. This is a vastly under represented ethnicity in this county.

It’s about time we had a peer of Greek Cypriot/Czechoslovak origin.

I promise to attend the House of Lords purely to vote and debate Brexit. I would not draw any fees or emoluments – it would cost the country nothing, not even fares because I could use my bus pass to get to and from Westminster. Once Brexit was resolved I would resign my title and never attend the Lords again.

So, Prime Minister, may I have a title?