Saturday 5 October 2019

Lady Hale, ardent feminist

This is the era of narcissists: Mr Obama, Mr Trump, M Macron, Speaker Bercow and possibly (I am not sure yet) Rory Stewart. 

Pope Francis seems self-regarding too.

Even Lady Hale, the most senior judge in the UK is not self-effacing enough. She was interviewed by the BBC not long ago, which is bad, and talked about her feminism. She wants to be admired.

She spoke to a school a couple of days ago standing in front of a slide projected on a screen which says ‘Spider woman takes down the Hulk', i.e. the Prime Minister.

The slide was not her fault, I concede, and it was a reasonable joke but she should not have agreed to stand in front of it.

She praised 'girly swots' in her speech (the phrase used in a cabinet memo by the PM) which was not an improper thing to do - but not accidental. At a moment like this when anger is running very high on both sides of the Remain-Leave divide it was unwise and also self aggrandising.

How very different she is from the great judges of old and how very typical of the Cambridge educated academic feminists of her generation and later. 

Her being an academic, which is most unusual for a judge, explains her. She is part of the philosophical drift in the universities towards progressive ideas.

Lady Hale proudly calls herself a feminist. Margaret Thatcher, by contrast, said feminism was poison. I mention this to suggest that being a feminist is a political position rather than an uncontroversial thing to be and judges should not have public political positions. I therefore wonder if Lady Hales is well-advised to proudly call herself one. 

She no doubt thinks she is on the winning side of history and a progressive social force and this justified. It's a kind of political Calvinism.

How very different she is from the wonderfully High Tory Lord Chancellor Eldon, who was anything but progressive. He set a face of granite against all social reforms and defended hanging for all sorts of crimes stealing sheep and lambs. He used to lunch each day with a Chancery crony and seek to impress the clerk by only ordering two bottles, but invariably they had a third before they left the table (port, not wine).

Then according to Campbell's Lives of the Lord Chancellors, one of the two funniest books I ever read (the other is Kenneth Rose's King George V), Lord Eldon proceeded to the Woolsack to deliver those judgments which continue to perplex the law of equity half a century after his death.

1 comment:

  1. "What’s sauce for Boris is sauce for Brenda Hale. Her Supreme Court questioned Boris’s motives in proroguing Parliament. The British people can now question her motives in reaching that verdict.

    "They might be interested, for instance, to learn that she has just been given a cushy position at an Oxford college run by Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the left-wing Guardian newspaper.

    "Rusbridger is a prominent Remainer and he is a supporter of Gina Miller, who brought the Supreme Court case against the Government.

    "Corrupt? No. But it doesn’t look great, does it?...."

    "The Brexit battle has electrified a previously indifferent electorate. The establishment can no longer get away with patting the citizenry on the head and saying: “Trust us.”"

    Quentin Letts, The Sun