I am an English-qualified commercial lawyer, practising in Moscow. My government's Christmas present to me has been to make my work more difficult.
Western clients negotiating joint ventures with Russian companies are anxious to build in contractual safeguards against corruption. You can imagine that the Russian companies take offence - sometimes real, sometimes synthetic. It's a delicate topic and I often feel sorry for honest Russian businessmen dealing with the consequences of their country's less-than-stellar reputation.
Britain's reputation as a relatively "clean" business culture has at least allowed me to deal with the issue straight-faced. Now I face a New Year full of nods, winks and references to Britain's "selective approach."
President Putin enjoyed teasing British journalists at the St Petersburg G8 summit this year with references to Lord Levy. Now his business compatriates get to join in the fun. Thanks, New Labour. "Forward, not back" - ever deeper into the mire.
As for the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, he should be disbarred for uttering the shameful words
"It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest"Nothing has served the British public interest better than the rule of law. Nothing has damaged that more than the disrespect into which New Labour has brought the law by what Andrew Marr called "binge legislating." Now Goldsmith demonstrates, in a different way, the contempt that the failed lawyers of New Labour feel for the legal principles they never grasped in their careers.
Gentle reader, I promise you I am casting about for something Christmassy and cheerful to post. Fingers crossed. There are still 24 hours to go.