My considered view based on fact and, as a competent magistrate, awareness of my own prejudices is that before 1939 members of this select grouping of which I am currently a member were by and large selected by toffs to reflect their world view that only the likes of “us” can deal properly with the likes of “them”. The club was a self perpetuating hierarchy where rarely major philosophical argument would be heard when members of the club were “off duty” ie in the retiring room. Often membership was achieved on the basis of Buggin`s turn. Legal, social and political harmony ruled the day as well as it ruled the courtrooms of England.
Not any more it does. Difference rules the day, the court rooms and the retiring rooms. Appointment Committees up and down the country have seen to that. The system would never have survived otherwise. However in a culture of self censorship where hesitation akin to a broadcaster`s ten second delay can be useful some colleagues still appear to have skins as thin as a mayfly`s gossamer wing.
Just very occasionally the very extremities of interesting conversations which sometimes arise among long standing and trusted colleagues during down time will be allowed to drift into inconsequentialness upon the arrival of one less likely to be open to intellectual discourse without the trappings of political correctness. This is most certainly no excuse for even the perception of anti ethnic discriminatory remarks or behaviour. However my own observations are that there is a definite divide between the attitudes of older black colleagues and their younger brethren as to their sensitivity to real or imagined hints of difference. It used to be said that politics and religion should be left out of the retiring room. Add to those any allusions to race and it`s game, set and match to those who seek division in place of harmony.
Which brings me once again to the Office for Judicial Complaints. This Star Chamber enshrouded in apparent secrecy has accepted the resignation of a colleague in Westminster for “ inappropriate comments in the retiring room”. It could very well be the case that this person and others similarly found choose the silent manner of their departure but as long as such decisions are announced without details of formal investigation one wonders over just what form of “justice” does this judicial Spanish Inquisition preside?