Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why I'm Not Joining The Magistrates' Association

The Magistrates' Association is the nearest thing Magistrates have to a Trade Union, and you would think that an old leftie like myself would be at home there.


I like the idea of workers banding together to get a square deal; it's just that I object to paying the dues if they are quite so embarrassingly bad at their job.

The picture I've uploaded comes from the flyer they send out to new Magistrates. Take a look and allow your mind to boggle. The picture seems to scream to you : " We have black people ! And women ! And some of us are young enough to have full bladder control ! Join Us !"

Inside the booklet are six reasons why you should join, which I will copy verbatim, rather than attempt to tidy their horrible syntax :-

(1) Do you want to be represented by a high-profile influential organisation and belong to an organisation that protects judicial independence ?

Well yes, that would be nice. It's a shame the Magistrates' Association isn't remotely that. Anyone who listened to a train-wreck of an interview on Radio 4's Today programme last week would have to agree.

The Deputy Something-or-Other of the Magistrates' Association was being interviewed by John Humphries, and he was making the point that even though cannabis was now a Class B drug, legally it wasn't being dealt with in the same way as the other Class B drugs.

Mr. Humphries : "I don't actually know what the other Class B drugs are - could you give me an example?"

Deputy Thingy umm'ed and ah'ed and then confessed that he didn't have a clue. At this point the only acceptable thing to say is "I'll get my coat ...".

However, he decided to make a funny and said that he wasn't a big Class B drug user.

Call me picky, but if I'm paying to be represented, I'd like the representative to be more knowledgeable, better briefed and more media-savvy than I am.

Incidentally, the drug he was looking for was "Speed" and he is a Dope.


There are other reasons quoted but I kept nodding off when I started typing them, and I wouldn't want to inflict the waffle on my readership. Hidden deep down beneath the turgid prose there are definitely justifications that can be made for a Magistrates' Trade Union :-
  • We are vulnerable to political interference without the ability to defend ourselves.
  • We deal with difficult issues and may need help at some stage in our careers.
  • We have a shockingly poor image among the shockingly small percentage of people who even know what we do.
If they had said that, then maybe I'd be interested. But the problem is that I don't think the Magistrates' Association are up to it.

And anyway, I already have this blog if I want to get my message out.

And if I want my voice to be heard in parliament, I'll bribe a member of the House of Lords like anyone else.


Mike said...

Somehow I get the feeling that you really wish there had only been white faces on the brochure so you could have had a real rant, but sadly you have had to make do with complaining it looks contrived.

Stan said...

At least you agree it looks contrived. To me, this is only one of many pieces of evidence of the MA's cringeworthy lack of media nous.

Mike said...

Oh Stan, you will really have to learn to be more careful in examining evidence! Nowhere did I say or imply that I agreed with you.

If you feel the MA has such a lack of media nous, perhaps you should join and offer your services to improve it, after all it is a voluntary organisation and no doubt would be grateful for assistance.

Stan said...

They need someone much, much better than me.

And with an annual income of around a million pounds a year (30k plus members paying £30+ each) and the "Association’s freehold premises at 28 Fitzroy Square, London W1" surely they can afford someone.

Anonymous said...

Harsh Stan - how about coming on board the Magistrate's Forum - contributing and reading some of the criticism and praise given to the MA?

Anonymous said...

Harsh Stan - how about coming on board the Magistrate's Forum - contributing and reading some of the criticism and praise given to the MA?