Friday, February 03, 2012

Chris Huhne and the Rule of Law

English: Chris Huhne at the Liberal Democrat S...Image via Wikipedia

Chris Huhne's resignation today highlights an important fact about British political life that is not always apparent to those of us living within it day in and day out. The law of the land is regarded as paramount, and politicians who breach it or, as in the case of the Energy Secretary, are charged with doing so, are expected to be held to account, regardless of their wealth or status.

This may seem obvious, but it worth reflecting on the fact that this principle - that no-one is above the law - is not universally recognised around the world. The BBC's current series on Putin illustrates that in Russia as in many other countries, politicians can and do literally get away with murder. Indeed, in Medieval Britain, the assumption that the rich should be excluded from harsh treatment under the law was elevated almost to a moral principle. The idea that kings and nobles could be brought to court along with commoners was a hard-fought-for concept. 

I for one am grateful that such a principle won the day, and that we continue to live in a country where it is expected that politicians are not above the law.


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