The cult of Lady Hale

The gushing over this judge shows us what that judgement yesterday was really all about.

Ella Whelan

Ella Whelan


‘Revenge of the girly swots’ has been trending on Twitter. Reclaiming Boris Johnson’s swipe at David Cameron, anti-Brexit MPs and political commentators are celebrating the three ‘girly swot’ heroines of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision: Lady Hale, Gina Miller and Joanna Cherry MP.

Hale in particular. The first female president of the Supreme Court has been all but sanctified on social media following her delivery yesterday of the verdict all Brexit-haters were hoping for – that the government had acted unlawfully when it prorogued parliament. Supporters were even praising Hale’s choice of a diamond-encrusted spider brooch, which she wore as she read the judgement, likening her to a character from Game of Thrones.

Known as the ‘Beyoncé of the legal profession’, due to her popularity among young lawyers and students, Hale has a reputation for breaking convention – she has refused to wear ‘silly’ judicial wigs and holds strident feminist views. There’s even a children’s book coming out about her, written by Afua Hirsch and Henny Beaumont. But following the Supreme Court’s ruling, she is being talked about as if she were a modern-day Che Guevara. There are spider-brooch themed t-shirts being sold in their thousands.

Remainers yesterday insisted that the Supreme Court’s ruling had nothing to do with politics. But their gushing over Lady Hale made clear that the ruling was not, for them, just a cold and clinical examination of law. ‘So much love for Lady Hale’, tweeted Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Anna Soubry, Ian Blackford, Caroline Lucas and other extreme anti-Brexit campaigners bowled out of the Supreme Court following the ruling, punching the air. When they say this has nothing to do with Brexit they are, frankly, lying.

Alongside the adoration for Hale is the continued fawning over Gina Miller, the rich anti-Brexit businesswoman who took the government to court. When interviewed on BBC News following the judgement, Miller was asked about the ‘personal cost’ she had sacrificed in her fight for ‘democracy’. No questions were asked about her role in the politicisation of the judiciary and the frustration of the Brexit vote. Commentators are calling for there to be a statue of her erected in Parliament Square. Others say she should be made a dame.

Meanwhile, Joanna Cherry, the lawyer and SNP MP behind the prorogation case that won in the Scottish courts, was also praised as another ‘brave’ woman taking on the establishment. ITV’s political editor Robert Peston tweeted about them all together: ‘A trio of extraordinary women have today changed the course of British politics in a fundamental way: Gina Miller, Joanna Cherry and Lady Hale. Wherever you stand on Brexit or Johnson, you’ve got to be impressed.’

But this all begs the question: impressed by what? That three women – two of whom are unelected – are wielding their considerable legal, political and financial sway over democratic matters? That they have all played a role in an unprecedented dragging of the law into politics? Should their genitals dazzle us to the extent that we ignore the substance of what happened yesterday?

We know what’s going on here. The gushing praise for Hale, Miller and Cherry is an attempt to gloss over the fact that the judiciary has intervened in the Brexit debate, at the behest of rich and powerful people. Boris Johnson’s undemocratic prorogation of parliament was wrong. But the actions of these three women, and the influential people cheering them on, have done far more damage to our political and legal system. The ruling yesterday has already dampened trust in our supposedly independent judiciary.

The attempt to put a feminist spin on this is sickening. It’s the clearest example yet of how identity politics can be used to deflect criticism from truly powerful people. For, as Peston suggests, who could be critical of these three successful women? Well, many people, actually. However Remainers want to dress it up, the judgement yesterday was a blow to democracy, and the creepy new cult of Lady Hale makes that all the more clear.

Ella Whelan is a spiked columnist and the author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism.

Picture by: Getty.

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Eric Lauder

26th September 2019 at 10:22 pm

I have read something by Hale: Equal Treatment Bench Book.
It’s a great dystopian sci-fi book, much better than many.

John Gaunt

26th September 2019 at 8:01 am

Spiked commentators are lonely voices from the Left, speaking bravely about the calamitous betrayal of Brexit, by rich, well organised and highly influential liberals.

On this occasion they identify the flagrant judicial activism of the so-called Supreme Court and the disproportionate political influence of Gina Miller.

Nonetheless it does not appear to have occurred to you that there may be a deep strategy here.

The decision to embrace no deal preparation led, in stages, to the unmasking of the Speaker as a Remain activist, followed by the defection of the pseudo-conservatives to support the Benn Bill.

The abandonment of opposition to the Benn Bill, after initially seeming to contest it, allowed it to become Law, making crystal clear to the public just how far the Parliamentary Remain caucus is prepared to go in its egregious betrayal of the national interest and its overt support for the EU against the UK.

The prorogation was a pointless act of provocation which reduced Parliamentary time by a couple of days, unless you simply see it as a deliberate provocation, which has had two effects: we have seen the pitiful spectacle of self-pitying Remain MPs, pretending themselves to be defenders of the people, at the same time refusing an election for venal personal advantage; and we have now seen the Supreme Court, a recent Blairite confection packed to the gunnels with EU trained advocates, unmasked as nothing more than a new politicised constitutional court, and making itself now into a legitimate future target for “reform”.

Perhaps this will continue? The next most logical provocation will be fail to accomplish any deal and then refuse to observe the Benn Bill, which may lead to any of a Corbyn Government, and a truly hateful policy platform; or a “National Unity” Government led by Harriet Harman, the living embodiment of Whiggish condescension and the niece of the Countess of Longford; or yet more traitorous legislation than “Benn”.

Perhaps they will even try to legislate for a second sham “legally binding” Referendum with no actual Leave option, believing that the public will somehow be fooled by that?

But whichever of these options is chosen, the only certainty is that the architects will be exposed as ever more devious, ever more obviously acting on behalf of the EU not the UK, and ever more afraid to account to the public for their actions.

Whisper it quietly, but Mr Cummings may be onto something here, because at each stage, Johnson’s popularity has increased. Sooner or later there will have to be an election and the longer it is deferred, the more furious the public is becoming. So let them scheme and enjoy the spectacle. The Remain caucus have no strategy, merely tactics, and they have forgotten the second part of Sun Tzu’s timeless dictum – “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.

When Brexit is delivered, by the Conservative Party, as it will be, then it is to be hoped that Spiked will have the grace to acknowledge that it was conservatives, not socialists, who listened to the people and respected the principle of democracy, and that it must therefore be conservatives, not socialists, who are then trusted to govern.

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