Friday, October 31, 2008

House Points: Is Jack Straw the new Sarah Palin?

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

A moose in the lobby

Chris Huhne told us in his speech at the Bournemouth Conference that this government has introduced 3,600 new criminal offences since it came to power in 1997. "Labour’s new legislation takes the same amount of shelf space as 200 copies of War and Peace," he said. "And it is twice as heavy as John Prescott."

So it’s no surprise that a few of those offences have slipped through without anyone noticing. At Home Office questions on Monday the Labour MP David Drew raised the case of a friend and constituent who had been arrested at Kingsnorth climate camp for "aggressively picking up litter". Is it any wonder the Wombles are threatening to move to New York?

The work of reducing our liberties is now so great that Gordon Brown has been forced to split it between two cabinet ministers. While Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, was busy at the Commons dispatch box, Jack Straw, as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, was making a speech down the road at the Royal Society of Arts.

There he invented something called the ‘criminal justice lobby’ and announced that it has been running Britain’s prisons for the past decade. This of nonsense, of course, and not just because it is ministers who runs our prisons. Anyone who works with public sector professionals will know how quickly they come to endorse every new twist of government thinking. They know which side their bread is buttered.

But try telling that to Straw. According to him, the members of this lobby are obsessed with the needs of offenders when they should be worrying about the victims of crime - though he was notably short of practical proposals for helping those victims. More punishment was his recipe. Worse than that, they insist on using long words like "criminogenic".

Believing in left-wing conspiracies, vengeful, anti-intellectual. Does Jack Straw remind you of anyone?

It’s Sarah Palin, of course. If you gave Straw a beehive hairdo and he started wearing his glasses again, it would be impossible to tell them apart. You betcha!

"Now on 'Autumn Watch’ we are going over to Simon King who is with some moose in Blackburn" "Thank you, Bill, and the news here is that the moose are looking distinctly nervous."


dreamingspire said...

No: they believe in right wing conspiracies. Remember Harold Wilson's problems? (You may be too young, Jonathan, but you are also well read.)

Anonymous said...

Of course the truth is that increasingly it is not public servants or the 'prison reformers' who are running our prisons and indeed the wider criminal justice system. Private companies such as Group 4 Securicor have, almost without public debate, taken over the running of many of our prisons (arguing for large Titan prisons in order to gain eye-watering large and long-term contracts). That is what the real public debate should be about, but something I think Straw failed to mention!