Currently we are ruled by a Conservative government with an overall majority in parliament of twelve seats. Owing to the form of our electoral system that majority was gained by the Tories winning 36.9% of the vote where the turnout was 66.1% of those on the register. Uncomplicated arithmetic shows that of those on that electoral roll 24.9% voted Tory. That form of simple calculation has been used in the last couple of weeks to justify the new leader of the Labour Party`s assertion that he has a mandate for change and to justify his support for politics to be taken to the streets. David Cameron is also using similar logic to restrict the terms under which trade unions can lawfully call their members out on strike. This in a nation when a referendum took place in 2011 on changing to an electoral system of proportional representation where the turn out was only 41% and the No vote was 67.9% indicating that only 27.8% of the eligible voting population was in agreement. It seems that the chairman of the Magistrates Association in the June-July *issue of its in house magazine The Magistrate is using the same argument as indicated above that his efforts are indeed supported by its members depending of course on which side the preferred outcome suits the argument. He argues initially that because 75% of magistrates belong to the M.A. an undisclosed sample of their views supports his actions. To bolster his argument that he is representative of J.P.s he derides the opinions of the 25% of non members disregarding the simple fact that they conscientiously refused to join. Compare this with the apathy of many members.
*As your chairman I am but a mouthpiece for the aggregated views of the magistracy. There are those who still repeat the mantra that, because not every magistrate is a member we do not represent the magistracy. Sorry but that is rubbish. A view gained from sampling 75% of magistrates is not going to change significantly, if we also sample the other 25%. After all, we have just voted in a government with well under 40% of the population who bothered to turn out to vote, and that is being called a decisive victory.
I suppose in what we describe as a democratic society it is up to anybody to use real numbers in the way in which they consider their arguments best made. In advertising such practices are subject to authority. In many other situations it is a case of caveat emptor.
On 02/06/2015 I posted on the fact that the M.A. was actively soliciting funds from Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). Defence of this little publicised activity reeks of disingenuity by its proponents. In the August-September issue of The Magistrate pp8&9 there is a lengthy **article part copied below on how the Association is being funded and where there might be avenues to obtaining increased income. Nowhere is there mention of contributions, actual or in the process of negotiation, by CRCs. I would opine that keeping secret such a change of fundraising activity where sentencers receive income from those being paid to carry out those sentencers` sentencing is nothing short of a scandal yet to be uncovered.
**Funding core activities So how are we going to fund our Policy and Research activities over the forthcoming years? Members have told us that, of all the work we do, influencing the agenda is valued most highly. However, success in influencing policy has no impact on income generation and so this work must be funded in other ways.One of the ways of achieving this could be if all members, who want this invaluable work to continue and grow, would consider increasing their annual donation or indeed adding to or replacing it with a monthly donation of say £5 or £10, which, of course, is still eligible for Gift Aid. Such increased donations will help but are unlikely to be sufficient to fund everything that needs to be achieved and so other sources of funds are needed as well. Here are some ideas where each of you can help ensure that the MA continues to have sufficient funding to continue all of the work that you wish it to undertake on your behalf:
In the wider scheme of things such apparent petty malfeasance or sins of omission count for very little. Within the organisation puporting to represent the junior judiciary which as a charity must function for the public good and whose members` activities private as well as public must be above reproach I would argue that the stables are not as clean as they should be.