Happy to host this guest blog from Manchester Barrister, Robert Smith.
I have a weakness for really bad film analogies and in our ongoing battle against the evil empire, led by Emperor Grayling and Darth Vara, the Star Wars trilogy has very much come to mind of late.
A New Hope had its premiere on the 6th January. We as a profession amassed like the Rebel Alliance and stuck a strong blow in our fight. We showed unity and we showed purpose. We showed that whilst the machinations of the MOJ (the Death Star) the Treasury (the dark side of the force) and the Legal Aid Agency ( the latter otherwise known as Jabba the Hutt and his bounty hunters ) can threaten and gesture and try and scare us into doing nothing, we stood firm and made it clear that they weren’t going to get away with it so easily. Those scores of barristers bands fluttering in the wind outside every court centre in the country ( which were not by the way Darth, “fully operational”) reminded me of the X wing foils being locked into attack position prior to the exciting conclusion of that great film.
Of course the Empire was always going to Strike Back. And thus Emperor Grayling and his storm troopers launched their usual attacks in the press by conjuring up false figures to make us all sound as though we can afford to hire our own wives as private secretaries. The Empire tells us that rather than having a system of fair access to justice, where people can access good quality representation whatever their circumstances the Death Star says £200 million pounds of cuts or die.
Then the Empire plays really dirty. They try to destroy that strength in unity that was so clearly shown in Episode IV by getting to our friends. In the Empire Strikes Back it was Lando Calrissian who was the weak link in the goodies armour. Imagine the scene, Nigel Lithman QC as Luke Skywalker, Tony Cross QC as Hans Solo and Ian West as Chewbacca. They walk into the conference room to meet their old pal Greg Bull QC hoping to plan the next stage in the fight. Only Darth Vara and the officers of the newly founded Public Defender Service are stood at the end of the table with Greg Bull QC ( Lando – if you hadn’t already worked it out) stood with them, looking rather sheepish. Greg Bull QC confiscates Nigel Lithman’s light sabre and says “sorry, these guys got here right before you did”.
And that is the Governments next plan of attack. They can now see we have the strength to take them on, so their best option is to divide and rule. Let them try. If some people want to leave the Rebel Alliance, don’t panic. We all know what happens in Return of the Jedi….the Empire lose….with the help of some Ewoks.