John Page wrote:
Getting back to the Baroness, if a minister breaches legislation they have themselves piloted though, they should have to go, however stupid the legislation was.
Nah ... there is collective responsibilty here. The whole government should go. But to single out a single minister for a technical breach* of the law, in her private life, unrelated to her ministerial duties, is missing the point. There is certainly huge irony in this, that a minister should be hoist by her own petard, and that is the case. In a grown up world, that should trigger some merriment but, more importantly, it should also trigger an examination of a cumbersome and unfair law, with pressure for its repeal and replacement with a better, more effective system.
And that is the point. If the minister was being attacked for promoting a bad law ... even to the extent of demanding her resignation because of it ... then I could go with it. But simply to call for her resignation because she, as an individual, fell foul of a bad law (albeit that she was party to its creation) is not the point. But that is ALL the media is interested in. Either she will or will not resign but the story will die, with the underlying issues unresolved - because all the media wants is theatre.
* The use of the phrase "technical breach" is well recognised, often used in courts and accepted as grounds for mitigation. It describes an unwitting breach of an administrative law which creates an absolute offence, through a procedural deficiency, where there was no mens rea
. Here, you have to distinguish between criminal acts, where the test of criminality is the intent. It is not an absolute offence to kill someone - the test is the intent. Where an offence is occasioned by an administrative oversight in the context of a procedural requirement, an argument of "technical breach" is entirely appropriate.