Legal aid under threat – join the campaign to save it
Today, YouGov published a poll showing that 68% of people back the idea of legal aid. Specifically, they agreed with the statement that “if someone was too poor to afford a lawyer and they had a need for serious legal advice” then “the state should pay for all their legal advice through the legal aid system”.
I assume the timing of the release was not coincidental. It was certainly pertinent. Around the same time, Ken Clarke announced that legal aid budgets in England and Wales “might” be cut even more than they have been in recent years. The temptation is to dig around and see how many state funded suits Mr Clarke had to deal with in his time at British American Tobacco.
But while it would certainly be interesting to see the products of such digging, this might miss the big story somewhat. Over the last few years, there has been a massive assault on legal aid, with deeper and deeper cuts.
Our legal aid system is a corner of British justice (or, more accurately, of Scottish Justice, and of English and Welsh Justice). Without it, the access to the courts, already massively weighted in favour of the rich, tilts much further in that direction. This gives employers much more power over employees, landlords over more power over tenants, and big companies more power over us all.
It’s pretty simple. Justice isn’t justice unless it’s for all.
While we expect these things from the Tories, it may be a little more of a surprise that this is coming from the Lib Dems. While I’m never surprised that some of the more right wing Liberals (as oppose to social democrats) support cuts to public services, they do tend to be more vocal in support if the basic liberal elements of our justice system. After all, if they are not, then what is the point of a liberal party?
So, today, we at the No Shock Doctrine campaign have launched an email action to David Laws, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, asking him to oppose these cuts. Please follow the link to take part.