The night of the long knives has arrived. The Prime Minister sits alone in his office. Before the night is over the walls will be coated with the blood of many a politician. The BBC correspondent, Nick Robinson, has just Tweeted that the Lord Chancellor is on his way to see the PM. That meeting never actually happened. This is the imagined conversation if the meeting had taken place.
LC: Prime Minister, before you make any decisions that I come to regret can I just say that it’s not all my fault. I mean we never expected that the barristers could get organised but it’s all sorted now. There was a problem, now problem gone. And we still have the solicitors on the ropes. And the prisons, well we embarked upon a benchmarking process and we set the benchmark too low for the number of officers compared to our high benchmark of the number of celebrities, I mean, offenders we lock up…..
The PM raises his hand to silence the gabbling Minister
PM: I haven’t asked you here to sack you. I need some advice about legal stuff.
LC: The law?!? Me? Are you sure….
PM: Well not the law as such.
LC: Because if you want law, we should get Dominic in.
PM: That might prove a little……awkward. What I need to know from you is what law stuff we need to make it look like we are dealing with in order to win the election outright. I can’t face another five years of Nick Clegg and all that “ooooh I’ve got a conscience” nonsense.
LC: I have always said that public confidence in the Legal Aid system has been undermined.
PM: Do we still have a Legal Aid system?
LC: Sort of. Not much of a one, but it is still there.
PM: So how do we know that the public are bothered about the Legal Aid system?
LC: Because I just said so.
PM: I know you did. But how do you know?
LC: I don’t. Not really. But it always sounded good. So I say it a lot. It works for everything. You should try it; ‘the public’s confidence has been undermined in prison sentences so I am going to triple them’ or ‘public confidence has been undermined in the probation service so I am going to sell it’. It works in any situation.
PM: But I need something that the public are really bothered about.
LC: You could try human rights and the supremacy of the European court?
PM: Why do the public worry about the supremacy of the European court?
LC: Because we keep telling them there is a problem. Every time we get caught out…. I mean every time those foreign Judges try to tell us how to run our country by applying a bunch of alien standards that we drafted in the first place, we just explain that they are wrong and pop a Minister on TV to whine about us being steamrollered by Brussels.
PM: Do we know that is something the public actually worry about?
LC: Oh yes.
PM: Can I just check how we know this?
LC: Because UKIP tell us the public are worried about it. And if UKIP raise it, we have to address it. It is all about capturing the heartland of grassroots in the public imagination.
PM: And is there a problem?
LC: Not really no, but it gives us a good excuse when we lose. Which we don’t do very often. In fact the European courts interfere with the actions of our Government only a fraction of the time that they do with the rest of the signatories to the Convention. We are one of the good guys. But I am not going to sit idly by and have some Eurocrat tell me how bent my banana can be!
PM: So we have told the public there is a real problem about sovereignty when there isn’t really and UKIP now tell us that the public are really concerned about this when they really probably aren’t and the upshot of all this is your banana is too straight, have I got that right?
LC: Yes. Kind of. The bit about the banana is made up but the rest is spot on.
PM: Right, well we need to do something about this wretched court then. Something tough. We need to tell them we won’t stand for this any more. Like I told them about that Juncker fellow. That made ’em listen.
LC: Just one problem. Dominic has advised us in the past that not only is it very difficult for us to pull out of the European court, he also advises us it would be a bad idea.
PM: Just who does he think he is?
LC: Strictly speaking he is the senior adviser to the Government on all things legal.
PM: No, you mean he was the senior adviser to the Government on all things legal. As of about ten minutes before you walked in the door I got all “Lord Sugar” on him and fired “me learned friend”.
LC: I have a cunning plan.
PM: Ho ho, I loved that show….
LC: Show? What show?
PM: You were just doing a bit of Baldrick there weren’t you?
LC: No. I have no idea what you are on about. What I was saying was I have a plan more cunning than a box of frogs with a combined IQ of over 200 and a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica.
PM: Are you sure you are not quoting Baldrick?
LC: NO! This is a chance to really show we are all in it together. I have been saying all along that we will provide an adequate lawyer of basic competence when the public pays.
LC: We can show that you are no different. At £161,000 we have one of the most expensive Attorney-Generals in the world. And after this reshuffle we will show we are still the most generous with whom we hand it out to. So as long as the new Attorney-General is an adequate lawyer there may be some benefits to you.
PM: Such as?
LC: Well when it comes to those tricky bits of legal advice your adequate Attorney-General may be a bit more inclined to give you the right sort of advice rather than the advice to do the right thing.
PM: I get it. So when we hand out the Lord Chancellor’s gig to you I was giving it to an attack dog….
LC: …..Thank you Prime Minister….
PM: …..and in order to get tough over Europe I now need a lapdog…..
LC: Yes, Prime Minister.