A blog by Patrick Crozier

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June 29, 2003

State Failure #1: The Osbourne Judgement

I had thought that the Osbourne Judgement was the judgement that legalized strikes - or at least, meant that strikers couldn't be sacked - and hence saddled the United Kingdom with 70 years of industrial unrest. But, reading this essay, it would appear that that is not the case.

What I meant (or at least what I thought I meant) was the Taff Vale Judgement. But it seems I was wrong there too.

So what was the Osbourne Judgement then? The Osbourne Judgement was the ruling that (at the time) made it illegal for trade unions to make donations to political parties. Now, you might well think that bankrupting the Labour party was a good thing, but this would be wrong. What a society does with its money is entirely a matter for it and its members. What Osbourne (the trade union member who brought the case) should have done (assuming it was a possibility) was to have left the society.

As it happens the Osbourne Judgement was a "bad thing" but not, perhaps, the sort of monumental state failure I am looking for. So #1 on the list needs replacing. Damn, how embarassing.

I suppose I could always replace it with the Soviet Union.



When I was a student in 1988-91, membership of the NUS was compulsory - your membership dues were paid by the local education authority. At that time, the NUS supported and campaigned for abortion at nine months, which I did not support. Had I been able to leave them, I would. But I couldn't. I trust things have changed since, but I feel for Osbourne!

Posted by James Hamilton on July 9, 2003