Saturday, 29 October 2011


Written 26 October 2011

The last time the great doors of St Paul's Cathedral closed, reluctantly, was at the height of the London Blitz.

To younger less informed readers the London Blitz was the terror bombing and attempted destruction of the Capital, and with it, the will of the People; to us up here in Liverpool, a much bigger version of the eight day Liverpool Blitz in May 1941 which had the same failed intent.

Some may ask the reason for the last paragraph. Good question. In town the other day several young people thought it was the name of a bar of chocolate - and attempting to describe reality was even more frustrating, mainly because of the yawning indifference and boredom in reply.

So to any teachers reading this: note well. Regardless of what subject you primarily teach, each and every teacher has a duty to underpin all teaching with the lessons of history.

Ironically, I bet the response would have been different again had the kids been told the Blitz was a new and exciting computer wargame. Ermmm. Maybe I should create that and make a lot of dosh in the process. But I won't!

So, the great doors remain closed. Services are held in private with no congregation. By day the comfortable dysfunctional middle classes encamp about St Paul's, talk of the evil of capitalism, the need for its overthrow, the demands for sacrifice - camping out on the freezing streets of London.

Laudable. Except that these dysfunctional people, these irritants, these malcontents, promptly return home to baths, showers, hot meals and beds and the chance to make up flasks and packed lunches for the next great strike against evil. Oh, and jobs. Oh, and spouses, partners and young families, the school run tomorrow.

To every man and woman is the right to protest, and I guard that right jealously. But with it comes the need for common sense and consideration for others.

Have I made a valid protest? Yes.

Have I achieved my aim? Actually, yes. I've inconvenienced the establishment (of which secretly I'm quite happy to be a part) and made the authorities consider my point of view.

Am I right to continue? No.

Am I right to inconvenience everyone else? No.

Am I being selfish? Yes.

Am I falling into that most dangerous trap of all - hypocrisy and double standards? Most definitely.

So, go home, get on with your work and work for the good of everyone. We are not interested in your airy-fairy pontifications. We've listened. We've taken note. Now let London, our Capital return to normal. Or as we up here in Liverpool would say:

On yer bike, beat it, tent n all!

Or, as the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, puts it rather more eloquently:

"The time has come for the protesters to leave, before the camp's presence threatens to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address."

Ian Bradley Marshall
26 October 2011


written 22 October 2011

Something very dark and sinister is in our Island as one listens with increasing alarm at the plaudits and open demands for independence by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond. Such plaudits interest me not. What concerns me is the raptorous applause of his audience, albeit the party faithful and not necessarily representative of the Scottish People, the British People.

I like to be optimistic. But on this subject that is not easy. I do not trust or respect a man or a people that hangs upon his every word as if he's some modern messiah. What we are witnessing today is the first crack in the Nation's Act of Union of 1701. Are we any different to former Yugoslavia? Of course we are not. Look at how we killed and bludgeoned each other before the Act of Union. Look at our history of civil wars and insurrection. Look at the cruelty inflicted upon each other both sides of the border, long before Mel Gibson's noble attempt to rewrite Scottish and English history!

No! These are very dangerous times. It angers me greatly that politicians can sway communities and nations within the UK to desire their own prime ministers, foreign secretaries, defence secretaries, their own armies and so on. It is pathetic. But Mr Salmond has much to answer for if he brings about the collapse of the UK. Perhaps he would have been more suited to living 300 years ago than in this 21st Century.

Ian Bradley Marshall
22 October 2011


26th October 2011

What does one say? Nothing? No. We stand with the Libyan People, a burgeoning democracy still undergoing a traumatic birth. But as truly established flourishing democracies we have the right to advise and warn.

I imagine the vast majority of Libyans will today be revolted by the way in which their deposed leader was dealt with in his last minutes.

I was born in 1953, 8 years after the end of the Second World War. And my first 10 years were dominated by the aftermath of war. I played on bomb sites and presumed everyone did. I watched all the TV newsreels, very often in a state of fear, even once or twice, abject horror. No. Actually, quite a few times. The catalogue of cruelty by people on each other was never-ending. To this day I recall the sense of physical shock. The numbness. I'd watched Benito Mussolini in his rise to power, his bellicose speeches, pompous raising of the sword seated on a horse. I watched his defeats. But nothing prepared me for the newsreel of seeing the dead bodies of him and his mistress hanging from lamp posts by their feet. At least they were dead.

The Libyan People must embrace freedom and democracy and not taint it with their own peculiar version. Either one has a democracy or an autocracy. There can be no mix. Attempt to go down that path and the Great Democracies will simply say, "we want no part of this".

The NTC must show its commitment; its resolve; its determination. Start by bringing to justice those who have inflicted these barbarities on Gadaffi and his son Mutassam Gadaffi.

Until they do, they cannot expect to sit easily, and with that sense of welcome, at any international conference table.

Ian Bradley Marshall

26 October 2011


21 October 2011

He called himself 'the king of kings'. It reminds me of that scripture when another self-styled king of kings loftily stood before Him and proclaimed "I will be like the Most High. Indeed, I will ascend the very stars of heaven".

And then a brief report in another scripture several millennia later - "I saw satan fall from heaven to earth in a lightning flash". One goes goose-pimply at the realisation that the report of this is an eye-witness account. That character was given due notice that at the appointed time his end would come. Not good for him. A triumph for humankind.

And so to the 21st Century and the 21st day of October. A chilling reminder of summary justice.

As a former police officer, summary justice brings to mind the air-conditioned but slightly oppressive rooms of our magistrates courts - the modern seat of justice. None of us likes a literal example of summary justice. We grow uneasy when we read literal accounts in the history books. But in less tolerant regimes throwing off the yoke of despotism, of evil rule, that is what we get.

Let us not rejoice in the manner of a man's passing, even though we rightly rejoice in his regime's end. In retrospect I wrote rather niaively in August 2011:

Conversely, there should be no negotiation at all about bringing Gadaffi before the International Criminal Court. He must be tried for crimes against humanity, and I suspect he will receive a far fairer trial than any he would give to any who opposed him during his tyranny. But as with all despots, his days are numbered. For his own sake, I pray that when he is found, that the international media are also present, as well as observers, to safeguard him.

There must be no room for summary justice. An emerging democratic people must remember this, for in so doing, they will earn the respect and admiration of all peace loving people, and that in turn will lead to greater immediate aid being given to the Libyan People.

Alas, this did not play out and we, the human race, showed just how cruel and vengeful we are in the moment's heat.

Nevertheless, we must not look upon this terrifying spectacle through the ease and comfort of our western eyes where democracy is taken for granted and we put up with a sea of tents around St Paul's Cathedral, a bunch of malcontents, endeavouring to create an "arab spring" against capitalism here.

We must remember that the Libyan People have been ruled and subjected to brutal terror for 42 years. Most people can remember no other way of life.

In the Middle East there is a different, more literal and generally very cruel interpretation of what we proudly call the Rule of Law. And it is intolerant, literal and violent.

Ours used to be but, thankfully, our own democracy has slowly evolved. And this gives a glint of hope that in the Middle East too this will one day be the case; but many, many years, even several centuries must pass before that is fact being lived out. Regardless of our own views, theism or atheism, it is not a bad thing to live to one principle - "vengeance is Mine, says the LORD, I will repay."

In other words, whether one believes or not, don't take justice into your own hands. Leave that to Me. I guarantee in due time this person will be judged and I will deal with the matter accordingly.

Ian Bradley Marshall
21 October 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011


In the world of business there is a seismic shift brought about by the Legal Services Act that came into force last week.

The new alternative business structures (ABS) introduced by this Act will enable non-lawyers to own or part-own law firms. An inbuilt safeguard requires that these ABS must still employ lawyers to practise reserved and regulated activities. This is an important distinction, for it means that a non-lawyer who wishes to open a firm and provide, for example, conveyancing, litigation and probate services, still requires a solicitor to be employed to undertake this highly specialised work. Not to do so would be a disaster for consumers!

Remember the thousands of opticians up and down the country, on every high street? That was only a decade ago. Today, the result of deregulation is that we go to Boots, Vision Express or Specsavers for our glasses or to the local newsagent to buy non prescription glasses for £1.99. Certainly that's the cost here in Waterloo, Liverpool. Rather different from the £199 we used to pay. And can I see adequately? Yes. And if I break my glasses? No problem. I can simply buy a replacement pair for less than an Americano coffee in Cafe Nero.

When I did have prescription glasses and broke them, the hassle that followed in trying to repair them, to make an insurance claim that sidestepped the insurance company's many exceptions to valid cover, wore me down.

When the Legal Services Act received Royal Assent, the writing was on the wall. It was not nice to read. Many firms will go to the wall, some have already, and many sole practitioners will call it a day, or hastily regroup together. Some succeed, some fail.

But why this change?

The demand of the consumer is paramount. For too long consumers (all of us) have been at the mercy of various industries and commerce that seek to make money - no bad thing - but which is not then ploughed back into the business, and thereby the community, to indirectly benefit the consumer.

I always smile at business conventions and seminars at the size of the waist lines of the many and varied successful entrepreneurs gathered. It is a smile vaguely contemptuous.

I suspect there is quite a storm approaching. And the legal profession did itself no favours with its own last week when, in a onesided article by Russ Thorne in the Independent on Monday 3 October 2011, the reader could be forgiven for believing that the term 'lawyer' still only means barristers and solicitors. For over twenty years it has also officially referred to Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives.

And not to put too fine a point on it to those dinosaurs who insist that Fellows are clerks, look at the Judiciary and see the number of Fellows sitting now as Magistrates or who are being appointed to the bench as either district judges or high court judges. When I joined the legal profession in 1981 that was unimaginable.

Times are changing, and for the better. Whether traditionalists like it or not, the day of the Co-op Will and the Co-op conveyancing and similar legal services is upon us. And if it brings greater wealth and national prosperity to all of us, as well as easier access to legal services, then let us ring in the changes with vigour.

Ian Bradley Marshall


It is a very great shame that after all the hype, PR and financial investment poured into the England Rugby Team over the last few months, that our performance was nothing less than shameful.

And I do not hold the players to account. Individually we saw massive commitment and devotion. Sure, lessons are to be learned by each and every player. But that is the norm.

No. The fault is in the leadership, or more accurately, the lack of leadership.

Martin Johnson was a brilliant player and will always be remembered so. But as a manager it requires a different kind of leadership. He will always be respected as a former player and captain.

But the art of winning lies in perception, foresight, planning and ruthless implementation of individual and team spirit. It is time for Johnson to hand in the towel and with him his entire coaching team. Start afresh.

We need leadership of Churchillian proportions. We have the players - outstanding - every one of them. But the business of management off the field and captaincy on the field is a team effort that requires very strong interpersonal relationship. It is not right that Tindall should leave Johnson to just get on with the job, and thereby, for Johnson, inadvertently creating an autocratic style of leadership that fails to take advice. And that is not Johnson's fault. That lies firmly at the door of Tindall and his colleagues who just presumed that a former captain could take them to glory.

And whose decision was it to take on the new team colour? If ever there was an affront to the "All Blacks" then surely, we affronted them and New Zealand. That was a very bad decision.

Martin Johnson opined that he has no massive regrets, nothing jumps out at him and says that may be we should have done things differently. Ummmm.

That is not what one wishes to hear of one's trainee officers at Sandhurst, Dartmouth and Cranwell. An inability, after defeat, to see where the mistakes were made and then to see how not to make the same mistakes again, is crucial on the battlefield. It is no less so on the sports field.

Ian Bradley Marshall