Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beware Kite-Flyers

Stephen Sedley reviews The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction, by Martin Loughlin, at the London Review of Books.

Kite-flyers refers to a political tactic, which Wikipedia describes in terms which seem to me similar to a stalking horse or trial balloon, but which Sedley describes rather differently.

"In recent years a practice has developed – routinely denied by ministers but privately confirmed by their civil servants – of flying kites as lightning conductors: a consultation paper or a bill will include an outrageous proposal which government neither needs nor particularly wants (an example in the legal aid consultation was the proposal, now dropped, to deny criminal defendants any choice in the lawyer to represent them). When it has served its purpose of distracting attention from other objectionable provisions, it can be abandoned."