What’s Abu got to do, got to do with it?

I’ve not had much to say for the last few days as I’ve been preoccupied with my response to the MOJ consultation document Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system. While I’ve been beavering away, this blog has been working hard for the cause and getting attention outside beyond the realms of WordPress.

New Statesman reposted the exhibits series. Harry’s Place reposed the Ministry of Jesters. Clive Baker, a family law barrister, has been verily spamming commentators on this Telegraph article with links back here – thanks Clive!

Exhibit C – the “paedophile” has been clicked on over 14 000 times. Thank you for Facebook sharing, tweeting, retweeting, posting and emailing.  I told you sleaze sells!

Links from here to the Save UK Justice e-petition continue to rise and, despite the MOJ’s best efforts numbers are steadily climbing towards our target of 100 000 signatories required for a debate in parliament.

It is not all work work work. As this blog has gained new audiences and the campaign has featured in the Tory press I have been tickled by some the comments that it has provoked.

Abu Qatada

I’ve not sat and counted but it appears the majority of commentators who are for the MOJ proposals cite Abu Qatada as the main reason why criminal legal aid should be cut. Alongside their hatred of fat cat lawyers, obviously.

Never mind that Abu hasn’t been prosecuted for any crime under English law. Never mind that his case is a human rights one. Never mind that if the MOJ plans come to pass Qatada and his ilk will still be able to tie the establishment up in knots at our expense. No, one commentator even went so far as to say that:

Qatada has run rings around the legal system in this country, and is DIRECTLY responsible for no-one giving a sh*t about these terrible reforms

Now maybe I have been living with a lawyer for too long, maybe I am just a pedant. But I can’t help wondering what on earth Abu Qatada has got to do with anything. Yes he has cost us money. But does one man justify sweeping away hundreds of years of tradition and screwing over thousands of dedicated professionals who have nothing to do with the matter? According to a lot of people the answer is “yes”.

I shan’t bore you with analysis of the figures the government quotes about what the Qatada case has cost, or why (as you might have guessed, the story has been spun).

Instead, I would encourage you to watch Tina Turner strutting her stuff on What’s Love Got to Do With It and try to figure out some more Qatada / legal aid related lyrics for me to sing around the house. As I have been doing most of the weekend. Particularly when hoovering and mopping my floors with my hair up in a scarf a la Nora Batty (an image that is somewhat incongruous when juxtaposed with the next theme).

Needless to say my most prized efforts are unprintable, but this should give you an idea of what I’m after:

Ohhhhhh

What’s Abu got to do, got to do with it/ Who cares that he’s gonna get us f*cked up

Ohhhhhh

What’s Abu got to do, got to do with it/ Who needs the law when the country is bankrupt

Ohhhhhhh….got to do with it

Please feel free to exercise your imagination in the comments section, or on another platform of your choice.

Marie Antionette

One of the comments on the Harry’s Place repost referred to me as:

…a bewildered Marie Antoinette advising starving people to eat cake if they can’t get bread, in total ignorance of their inability to afford either, and total oblivion to their growing anger.

It is difficult to explain why this image of me as Marie Antoinette is so hilarious without actually describing myself. However, in order to try and raise my husband’s spirits, this weekend I did endeavour to speak my dreadful rusty schoolgirl French wherever possible.

My “delicate” cries of:

Qu’est-ce que tu fais ?

Have been met with a variety of responses including:

picking up cat s*it from the flowerbeds

AND

getting your hair out of the shower plug hole

AND

reading about a racist beating

And when asked:

Darling, what are you making?

I replied:

Un grande gateau pour toi, mon cochon gourmand

Which brings us nicely to the final theme.

Greedy pigs and smug parasites

Now I know that most people hate lawyers, that is no surprise. When meeting people for the first time in social situations my husband will do anything to avoid answering the question “and what do you do?”. He never asks it either. Which is annoying for someone as nosey as me. But I digress.

If pressed, on hearing his answer the other party will generally exhibit one of three responses:

  • recoil in disgust
  • say the next round is on him
  • lean forward conspiratorially and say “it is funny you should say that, I could use some help with a little problem, nothing much to someone like yourself…”. It is not funny at all. The host has usually set it up in advance.

Is there no end to my capacity for digression? Are you starting to get an idea of what my MOJ consultation response looks like?

To get to the point, what does surprise me is how these people, who don’t know me, or my husband or any other criminal lawyers by the sounds of things can be so RIGHT about what we are really like:

  • YES, my husband is a greedy pig – he worked his way through two thirds of the cake that I made on Saturday while he was reading about the racist beating
  • YES, my concern is for myself and my “greedy pig of a husband” – as is the case in most other pairings. However, I do occasionally give a fleeting thought to other greedy criminal lawyers, like this one.
  • YES, my husband is a smug parasite –he’s secure in the knowledge that he can continue leeching off my modest but regular salary while the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) scratch their backsides and think about when they might start to get round, to maybe, possibly, paying him his dues…sometime, perhaps.

Next time

I know I said it a while back but this time I promise you that the next post will be about why I think you should be allowed to choose your own lawyer, even though Chris Grayling thinks you shouldn’t.

In the meantime, the Save UK Justice petition needs your signature. Whatever you think about the MOJ proposals, such massive changes need to be debated in parliament. So:

9 comments

  1. You are more than welcome!

    1. Thank you Clive. You’re doing a great job out there.

  2. Cracking as always.

    1. Many thanks Utterbarrister!

  3. […] June: What’s Abu got to do, got to do with it? (A Barrister’s […]

  4. […] What’s Abu got to do, got to do with it? [A Barrister's Wife] […]

  5. Bluecat · · Reply

    Most people hate lawyers until they need one. Then they can be quite pleased to see them.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Brilliant. I love your blog, I love your posts, and your cause is righteous… Keep up the good work girl.

  7. NotAStobartLawyer · · Reply

    Surely the amount of money spent on Abu Qatada – and yet he is still in the UK – goes firmly against Grayling’s contention that the “public is not getting value for money from the UK legal aid budget” (Today programme a few weeks back).

    It sounds as if Mr Qatada is in fact getting great value for money, certainly more value than the MoJ lawyers are giving in trying to have him removed!

    As far as I can see AQ’s lawyers have been instructed to keep him in the UK – and have roundly succeeded in this task.

    A ringing endorsement of the success of the system. Using the government’s own strategy perhaps they should outsource their own internal legal spend to the same legal aid panels in order to get better “vfm”…

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