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5:25pm on Tuesday, 7th March, 2017:



I heard a discussion on the radio today about the recruitment problems facing the judiciary. There aren't enough suitable candidates for high-court positions and above.

Hmm. I can tell you the exact moment when I lost my chance of becoming a high court judge: 11:15am on 10th January, 1960 — the moment I was born.

In my case, I lost my chance because I was born into the lower working class. In the case of other people who had it luckier classwise, they lost out because of their gender, a congenital disability, or parents from the wrong part of the world. No wonder there's a shortage of highly-experienced judges today when the recruitment pool was so small at the time they would need to have been born.

Times are changing. I finally did claw my way into a position of social respectability, but I'm now stereotyped as an old, white guy who can't die soon enough so society can move on. I'm reminded of Hilary Clinton, who had the right class but the wrong gender: she played by the rules, beat the odds until she got her crack at authority, only to find that the rules had changed and the assets she thought she had accumulated were almost overnight turned into liabilities. For other people, such rule flips can help: in the past, aging actresses didn't used to get starring roles because prettier, younger actresses got them instead, but nowadays they have a much better chance (even if they themselves only got name recognition because they started out as one of those prettier, younger actresses who took a job from someone who, back then, was like they are now).

Whether prevailing social forces work for or against you in future could be as capricious as the accident of birth that defined my opportunities when I was born. Even if you're born into wealth and privilege, you only have to say one thing on social media that you might regret moments later or that can be taken out of context and you could be marked for life. Then again, maybe society will switch and you'll be lauded for your independence. Things are changing so quickly that it's hard to predict what will happen. If you want to get into politics, do you join a Labour party that could implode, or do you join the Liberal Democrats or Greens in the hope they'll replace them, or do you join the Conservatives on the grounds that the party will have to adapt to match changes in society and that by the time you've risen through the ranks you'll have become more conservative with age anyway? It's a tough time to be in your teens or twenties.

I think I would have made a good judge, because the law is like programming. I can't say I'd necessarily have enjoyed it, though — you have to deal with too many people for my taste.

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