Howard's Way 12 January 2006

Contributed by editor on Jan 12, 2006 - 12:25 AM

HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

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January 2006

I was saddened by the news of Charles Kennedy’s resignation.

He and I have always got on well personally despite our considerable political differences. On those matters where we agreed, like the need to insert a sunset clause in the Government’s legislation on terrorism before the election, we were able to work together very fruitfully.

I also sympathised with his struggle to overcome his personal problems and sincerely wish him well for the future.

Meanwhile the international headlines are dominated by Ariel Sharon’s fight for life.

In the past I was one of Mr Sharon’s fiercest critics. But there is no doubt that, although there is so much more to do, his decision to pull out of the Gaza represented a huge step forward towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

The question that now arises is whether in the likely absence of Mr Sharon from the political arena, his successor will have the stature to persuade the Israeli people that they must take more risks for peace.

Similar doubts exist on the Palestinian side and, all in all, the outlook for peace in the Middle East is a good deal murkier than it was a couple of weeks ago.

In the United States attention is beginning to focus on the Senate hearings to confirm the nomination by President Bush of a new Supreme Court justice. I rejoice in the fact that our own appointments to the judiciary are outside the realms of politics. But as more and more of the decisions of judges become political in nature I wonder how long this tradition of ours can continue.

It is likely to be one of the most controversial areas of public policy over the next few years and I do not think the outcome is at all predictable. It is certainly an area in which I shall be taking a close interest.