A View From Ironopolis

The Community Union is just down the corridor in our office block. Today, like many days in recent weeks, the building if full of ex-steelworkers seeking their help with job-seeking and retraining. It is obviously pretty depressing.

The tale of industrial decline in the North is one with which we are all familiar, regardless of your political take on its causes. Despite those differences it is also a story which inspires sympathy with the human suffering involved.

Who would have ever thought that the legal profession would sit on a similar precipice? However tomorrow, for no good policy reason and probably because of a grudge by a former non-lawyer Lord Chancellor, that is just what faces criminal legal aid practitioners. From our perspective tomorrows Duty Contract bid results will see no real winners and yet we want to wish everybody good luck – largely because luck is as likely as any other factor to inform the outcomes. The long-term fate of criminal defence may not be quite as bleak as that of British steel making but for some these irrational decisions will have the same effect as the switching off of the Redcar coke ovens.

There are a number of possible plot twists, it might get delayed again or unpick when appeals are launched. Perhaps Gove might continue to dismantle some of Graylings shoddy handiwork. Some are more likely than others.

Whatever your outcome we will be available to offer what guidance we can – all the best.

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