But the law doesn't work like this. It deals in legal commitments. No bit of the Human Rights Act, the European convention on human rights or the UN convention against torture has a proviso excluding foreigners with "funny" names or for those with the "wrong" ethnic or religious backgrounds. The three senior judges, who have reminded the government of this yet again in the latest ruling on Abu Qatada, are not necessarily liberal, or progressive, or devotees of some judicial cult worshipping at the shrine of liberty campaigner Shami Chakrabarti. They are just doing in a dull old-fashioned way what is made inevitable by their training and the democratic laws it is their job to apply.
Successive governments, and the Tories in particular, have had a problem with the rule of law. It seriously inhibits the ability of their security services to take national security back – cold war style – into the realm of the executive. It also inconveniently stands against the populist manoeuvring favoured by the dark side of both main parties. But the rule of law is what Conservatives in particular were brought up to believe in: a bit of the imperial history (Magna Carta, Blackstone, Dicey, etc) for which they display such enthusiasm.
In the good old days the judges looked the other way when radicals were shafted, shocking bail conditions imposed and foreigners unceremoniously thrown out. This went on right into the 1980s (Spycatcher, the Birmingham Six, the miners' strike). But things have changed. The ex-servicemen, rabid anti-communists and Tory placemen of yesteryear have gone. And now the European court of human rights keeps the judiciary honest, as it did in the Abu Qatada case itself last year when overruling our judges' effort to be relaxed about torture evidence as long as it was being allowed in Amman and not the Old Bailey.
What will the government do? In the short term it has enough legal devices to hand to continue to make the life of Abu Qatada and his family hell. If it gets the chance it might even press charges against him, if it can be assured of the secret justice for which it has been fighting so hard in recent weeks. In the longer term the Conservatives only get away with supporting universal values like the rule of law and human rights while also condemning non-white foreigners, immigrants and benefit scroungers, because they are always silently whistling that none of the values we supposedly uphold apply to these reprobates.
Ukip's leader, Nigel Farage, has thrown the Tories into panic because he is talking about this, not covertly whistling. Short of abolishing the rule of law and universal human rights, the party is left with the poor consolation of shouting insults at the judges – like a political version of the limbless black knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who roars at his adversary: "Come back and I'll bite your legs off."Source - www.guradian.co.uk (comments for free)