Thursday, December 15, 2011
All opposition parties unite as SNP railroads sectarian football bill through Holyrood, Mulholland calls it ‘important legislation’, bollocks
After the Scottish National Party won the Holyrood 2011 election, Alex Salmond said that the SNP may have won Scotland's first majority government but it "did not have a monopoly on wisdom".
He is of course absolutely right on that score.
Which brings me; to the SNP using its majority at Holyrood to pass the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill.
That was totally the wrong approach to take to tackle this problem.
How bad is this crap bill?
Bad enough to unite all opposition parties against this bad law, the law effectively allows Police to arrest anyone for singing what could be later construed as a sectarian song.
However, the Scottish government have not defined what songs could lead to someone or group getting arrested.
So, a person could be lifted, taken to court and it would be up to a jury to decide if they want to convict.
This will be based not on law; but possibly their own prejudices.
Law by its very nature must be clear and although ignorance of the law is not a defence in itself, this law could be argued with some merit that it isn’t human rights compliant.
A key part of convicting is establishing what is called ‘mens rea’, which means when the person or group committed the crime, did they have a ‘guilty mind’.
This standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase; ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’, which means "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty".
Ergo, any decent lawyer or possibly second year law student on the ball could drive a truck right up the Scottish Government’s arse; do a U turn using the hand brake and wheel spin away taking their client out of Court.
It's shit law and to quote Alex Salmond again, Scotland's first majority government doesn’t have a monopoly on wisdom.
We now have two new offences created for targeting sectarian behaviour in and around football matches and on the internet.
Those convicted could spend as long as five years in prison and be banned from football grounds.
5 years for singing a song?
The SNP was wrong to use its majority at Holyrood to pass the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill but they left the door open by saying that they promised to review the use of the new powers.
Juries are generally sensible by enlarge but they do have odd characters on them, if you haven’t been on a jury it is an eye opener, believe me. But in the madness of the jury process, someone usually exercises common sense.
To be blunt, if I was on a jury and this shit was put to me, I would argue with some merit how utterly wrong this is in both law and in natural justice.
Passing bad law brings the Parliament into disrepute.
Last night opposition parties took the unusual step as I previously said of uniting to brand the bill, which has won backing from police and prosecutors as a shambles and unworkable.
Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald issued a joint statement after the vote at Holyrood.
"Members of all political parties are determined to wipe the blight of sectarianism from Scottish society. It is of real regret that the first piece of legislation passed by this new Parliament has been railroaded through by the SNP. The SNP has used its majority to force through bad law that risks doing more harm than good. It sets a worrying precedent for this Parliament."
As I previously blogged, consensus is dead, unfortunately the SNP believe that they are the ‘new establishment’, this is delusion thinking and reminds me of Blair and his landslide in 1997.
And we all know what happened to Blair, from hero to zero, and then cast out.
Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham trying to justify this tripe reminded MSPs of on-field flashpoints at Old Firm encounters, bullets and bombs through the post and internet threats to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other prominent Celtic figures.
All this could be dealt with using current law provisions.
"This simple point seems to have been lost in what I think is a fog of denial and sometimes apparently wilful misunderstanding. These are clear and specific improvements to the existing law."
I sincerely hope that someone else wrote that for her and she just parroted it out, I would prefer to believe she is ignorant of the subject matter rather than plain stupid.
Tory Justice Spokesman David McLetchie poured scorn the notion of asking police or prosecutors if they wanted new powers to being a akin to asking someone if they wanted a pay rise.
"What we will now see is a flood of prosecutions under the Act. No doubt this will be presented as a great success by the SNP, but in reality it will be a sham."
Labour justice spokesman James Kelly said:
"We all know that throughout this process, it has not been competently handled by the minister. What we need is a properly thought-out strategy on sectarianism, one that is informed by real people, not civil servants in St Andrew's House."
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, Scotland's top law officer, said:
"I welcome the passing of this Bill, which is one of the most important pieces of legislation to be passed by the Scottish Parliament."
I hold Frank Mulholland in contempt, what an arselicker.
20 Celtic supporters who travelled to Holyrood under the banner “Fans Not Criminals” were excluded from the public gallery for wearing campaign T-shirts.
Each wore a T shirt spelling out a letter to make a combined message and they intended to stand up and turn round when a Bill to tackle religious hatred and bigotry related to football was passed, to spell out “SNP – Shame on You.”
Jeanette Findlay, chairwoman of the Celtic Supporters’ Trust, said they had come to protest against this “shockingly unnecessary Bill”.
Ms. Findlay unfortunately gave a TV interview were she demonstrated how common she is, possibly not the best advocate for a protest group but her group did have a point, even although it was cheap, badly thought-out and ineffective.
She is also a Glasgow University product.
Over at the Herald Scotland, Iain MacWhirter writes:
"This dumb, unjust law is Salmond's first own goal"
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University