Not so much satire as real life

20 Dec
Sir Robin Wales is always right

See, I am always right. It says so right there.

Legal blogger David Allen Green has decided that government and parliament waste far too much time passing legislation, which is then subject to the tiresome jurisdiction of the courts. Whitehall and Westminster, he asserts, would be better employed doing other things.

So he proposes a modest Act of Parliament, the Something Must Be Done Act 2014. Once it is passed, no other legislation will ever be necessary and the meddlesome courts will be neutered forever.

This would be a piece of satirical genius were it not for the fact that Mr Allen Green has simply lifted and modified Newham’s The Mayor Is Always Right by-law, passed by councillors immediately after the first mayoral election in 2002.

Even if Newham residents are unfamiliar with the exact text of the by-law they will immediately recognise it from its impact on daily life in the borough:

Section 1:
The Mayor of Newham shall have the power to do anything, and nothing the Mayor does will be ultra vires.

Section 2:
The power given by Section 1 of this by-law shall include the banning of things by the Mayor.

Section 3:
The things to be banned referred to in Section 2 of this Act shall be the things which the Mayor of Newham says are bad for us.

Section 4:
What is bad for us for the purposes of Section 3 shall be determined by the Mayor of Newham with regard either to (a) headlines in the Newham Recorder this week and/or (b) the headlines the Mayor of Newham would like to see in the Newham Recorder next week.

Section 5:
Any person
(a)  voicing opposition to a determination made under Section 4 of this Act; or
(b)  acting in breach of a ban made under Section 1 of this Act,
shall be deemed to not care about the children and/or be soft on crime and anti-social behaviour.

Section 6:
In the event something must be done, the Mayor may at his sole discretion choose a thing to do, and the thing chosen shall be deemed as the something that must be done.

Section 7:
The thing chosen under Section 6 shall not have any rational or proportionate relationship to any intended objective.

Section 8:
There shall be crackdowns, announced from time to time by press release. Any crackdown under this Section 8 shall not endure more than one day after the press release in which it is announced.

Section 9:
There shall always be new penalties. And these penalties shall always be deemed tougher than the previous penalties and so shall be called ‘tough new penalties’ until superseded by the next ‘tough new penalties’ when they become ‘the old ineffective penalties’. However, any ‘tough new penalties’ under this Section 9 shall have no greater effect than ‘the old ineffective penalties’, even if announced as part of a crackdown under Section 8.

Section 10:
Within the boundaries of the London Borough of Newham this by-law extends beyond the rule of law.

Reading this in parallel with Mr Allen Green’s version, it is striking how little he has had to amend the original text to make it fit his comedic purpose. But what he thinks of as satire is actually real life here in Newham.

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One Response to “Not so much satire as real life”

  1. Kevin Mansell December 24, 2013 at 00:53 #

    Good stuff Martin, Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2014

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