Equality in the Eyes of the Law

Every person in the United Kingdom is equal in the eyes of the law. But some are more equal than others.

When a lower class criminal sticks their hand in the till and takes a few grand the full weight of the law crashes down, splattering them like a bug. They will be publicly named and shamed, fined, and imprisoned.

When a wealthy businessman or banker commits a crime (often involving millions of pounds) they get a slap on the wrist, a comparatively small fine, or it is swept under the carpet completely. Or, which to me is even scarier, they follow legal channels so that they’re not technically doing anything wrong at all, even though they are causing just as much pain and damage to us underlings. To quote a Morrissey song, “Educated criminals work within the law”.

Look at the Libor scandal. Libor (which stands for London Interbank Offered Rate) is an average interest rate that many markets use as a reference point. It turned out that banks, most notably Barclays, were manipulating Libor for their own benefit – highly illegal. They stole billions, but was anyone held accountable? I bet hundreds should have got prison time for their part in the scandal, but they got off with a few measly fines.

Big companies are exempt from the law. Now and again, in extreme circumstances, one person will take the blame and lose their job. Yeah, and if I went to work on Monday and battered someone to death I’d lose my job too. But I’d also go to prison.

Then there’s the ability of the upper class to pay for the best solicitors (getting “justice” is easy if you can afford it).

And don’t get me started of judges! The people dishing out the sentences are from the same stock as the bankers, politicians, and the leaders in industry. The lack of diversity in the judicial system leaves it filled with out-of-touch white upper class males (and therefore the whole system benefits white upper class males).

To have equality in the UK we need to get the basics right. Equality in the eyes of the law is a must!

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To be Blunt…

MP Chris Bryant stated that it is easier for a person from a privileged background to succeed in the arts, specifically naming actor, Eddie Redmayne, and musician, James Blunt. James Blunt responded via an open letter, very maturely calling the MP a “classist gimp” and a “wazzock” before moaning about how hard he has had it, and that it was just as difficult for him to succeed in the arts.

James Blunt was born in an affluent area of the country. His father was a colonel in the army. He went to the best schools (Harrow) and his education was paid for with army bursaries. After education he went into the army and trained at Sandhurst, and was fast-tracked into high ranking positions. While in the army, he didn’t deal with the hand-to-hand combat and getting shot at kind of thing so much as captaining his army ski team. To be Blunt isn’t such a bad thing, as far as I can see, thanks to Colonel Daddy. During this privileged start he was able to listen to, learn, and compose music. He was also able to make contacts with powerful people and earn a lot of money. James Blunt is the definition of a “Chosen One”.

On the flipside, a person brought up in a terraced house, who starts with nothing, who goes to work in a factory at 16, who worries mainly about housing and feeding oneself, may not even think to pick up an instrument or a paint brush. Art is a luxury that people can turn to once the essentials are covered.

But James Blunt says that his privileged background was a disadvantage in the world of the arts. Believe it or not, I agree with him.

Working class people are the most diverse, interesting, gritty, thoughtful people on the planet. They are exposed to harsh lifestyles. They experience hardships and horrors daily. They work the hardest jobs for the crappest pay, and at the end of the week they go home to their families with a smile on their face. This is where real art originates.

Anything the James Blunts of the world can come up with will pale in comparison. James Blunt may be able to walk into opportunities because of his social class, and he may be rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. But he will never write a song with the heart, pain, and emotion that the likes of Bruce Springsteen has written. He will never compose a melody that will rival anything by the Beatles. His voice will never convey emotion like Morrissey. He will never mesmerise a crowd like Tom Waits. He will never put his soul into an instrument like BB King or Jimi Hendrix.

So yes, I believe Blunt’s true artistic ability is diminished by his privileged life. But make no mistake, to be Blunt isn’t a bad thing, and I’m not going to shed a tear for him.