Here's one of those quirkly stories about obsolete laws that are still on the statute books – stuff like being able to urinate on the back wheels of a hackney carriage or shoot a Scotsman on a Sunday in Carlise. Apparently a whole number of such laws are being repealed at the moment.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw, a man I expect whose sense of humour is matched only by his passion for civil liberties, came out with the following piece of unconscious irony:
"Laws on turnpikes, workhouses, and the Peterloo Massacre are rightly of interest to historians, but there is no need to retain them on the statute book.”
He maybe being a bit hasty there:
• Turnpikes – well we have PFI, privatised railways and toll roads so why not turnpikes?
• Workhouses – with the concept of 'workfare' and social housing reforms to evict those not actively seeking work, workhouses seem like a reasonable option.
• The Peterloo Massacre – a legitimate and peaceful protest brutally dispersed amidst hysteria about revolutionary ‘outrages’. Dare I mention the current anti-terrorism laws or the regular over reaction of the the police whenever there is a public order incident?
I’m just off to piss on the back of a taxi now…