Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Tuesday 28 May 2013

What could possibly go wrong?

ROLL UP! Roll up! Marvel at our one-day special offer on a country for sale!

Opportunities this good only come along once in a 1,000 years! Nations takes centuries to build and just seconds to sell! And believe me it really does look like everything must go!

But you'll have to be quick.

We've already sold the social housing, we've sold the trains, the steel, the mines, the gas, the oil, the coal. We're selling the sunlight and the wind and we'd sell the seabed if only the Queen didn't insist she owned it.

We're in the process of selling the NHS, the schools, the roads. And now we'd like to sell the basic guardian of our freedoms too.

A leaked memo from the Ministry of Justice reveals Chris 'Failing' Grayling plans to save £1billion by privatising the courts service.

The options include selling off every court building in the country to hedge funds, charging businesses to use the justice system, and dumping 20,000 jobs.

It also involves - and the leaked memo didn't mention this bit, but it's fairly obvious to customers as canny and quick as I know you must be - tearing up the Magna Carta and flushing it down the bog.

When King John was forced by his angry barons to sign that bit of parchment 798 years ago, it was not just the first-ever declaration of human rights in the history of the world. It had lots of other important stuff in it too.

It made the Church of England free, it ensured taxes were raised only by common consent, it forced the monarch to consult their people, and it was binding on him and all his heirs.

Much of it has since been replaced with other laws but one of the remaining clauses states: "No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned... or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed... but by lawful judgement of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man, either Justice or Right."

And what Chris Failing has done there is add, with a crayon and in handwriting that makes you think he's a tiny bit special: "Unless they can afford it."

Because what his plan means is that the buildings in which free and fair justice is executed will be owned by corporations and conglomerates. This will make no difference to your average smackhead bag-snatcher, but will prove a tricky proposition if a hedge fund boss were ever to be up before the beak.

Don't worry your head about that, investors! We don't really prosecute tax avoiders, bankers or multinational dodgy sods in this country, so the chances of that happening are slim.

Whoever owns those buildings will have the technical right to deny access to anyone they choose, so even if every money man in Britain is up on charges we'll just bar the Press from coming in to report on it. No-one need ever know.

Where somebody wishes to take a business to court - on charges of corporate manslaughter, perhaps, or if one company wants to argue with another - we will charge them to use the service. This will be on top of existing legal and civil court fees, and will ensure only businesses with lots of cash have access to justice. Little firms will be ground into the dust, which is just as well because who needs them? Not hedge funds!

The 20,000 existing court staff will be made redundant, at huge public cost, and re-employed by the private providers on the same money as before. The private providers will charge the taxpayer a fee for providing each member of staff, so that a £25,000-a-year court bailiff will still earn £25,000-a-year but it will cost the public £30,000-a-year. Inspired, isn't it?

All this extra cash will provide the profit for our investors which we can pretty much guarantee will be funnelled through Luxembourg by way of Mars in order to minimise tax.

You'll need to cut your tax liability to keep the profits up, you see, because we're going to make it virtually impossible for poor people (and there's quite a lot of them) to use the courts at all.

Legal aid changes mean that, for example, if someone wishes to argue against child custody being given to a violent partner they will be able to go to court only if they can a) afford a solicitor b) the partner has already been convicted or c) they already have a civil injunction, which they will have likely needed either a) or b) to achieve.

On top of that we'll make sure anyone poor accused of a crime will have the cheapest legal advisor available rather than a specialist or someone they trust.

And we're thinking about making them pay for the whole thing if they're found guilty, which will involve decades of legal action against drug dealers with vast resources and sending bailiffs round to the houses of addicts, the mentally ill, and because we've decided children can take adult criminal responsibility at the age of 10 we might have to raid school lockers too.

The whole thing will have its rights and freedoms guaranteed by a Royal Charter, a method of approval even older than the Magna Carta and twice as easy to ignore. Charters are overseen by former and current government ministers, which puts the entire judicial system for the first time ever at the mercy of politicians.

Fundamentally, what you've got here is a fire sale. Everything must go on the basis that we've run out of money and rather than taking it from the corporations and morons which lost us it in the first place the Government intends to dump everything and everyone else over the side in the hope of saving their soulless selves.

When we've done that we'll probably have to get in some management consultants to do a time-and-motion study on whatever is left, which the way it's going will be Clare Balding, Gideon and a shedload of barely-literate EDL supporters hurling bottles at themselves.

No doubt there will be some who decry the betrayal of every natural asset this nation has and every achievement its people have ever striven for. But what these people don't realise is that we're just getting a contract and some payment in return for selling ourselves to the corporations who already run the show.

That's why it doesn't matter the Prime Minister is on holiday - he spends his days playing Fruit Ninja and letting others make the decisions anyway, and he can do that just as easily in Ibiza as he does in Downing Street.

It's why the former head taxman who took part in disgraceful sweetheart deals with big business to pay less tax is now an advisor to a firm of tax specialists.

It's why selling justice in a boot sale to the highest bidder is merely a formality, if you're the voices whispering inside Chris Grayling's head.

They tell him no-one is ever wrongly convicted. Everyone who is poor should pay for it. Corporations are always good.

And until that pesky Magna Carta ruined things the Middle Ages were a time of idyllic bliss.

If you had the keys.