Thursday, May 27, 2010

New, Old Broom

I remember Ken Clarke from his stint as Home Secretary in the early 1990's. Perhaps the later pounding that prisoners received from Michael Howard colours my perspective, but I recall Ken Clarke as being "mostly harmless". For a Tory with prisoners at his mercy, that is as good as could be hoped for.

Now he returns as Minister of Justice. If he merely avoids the mendacity of Jack Straw then his term in office will be seen as a success.

And on the dodgy basis that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", then Ken is my new best mate because the screws are moaning like hell about the new regime. They fear for their jobs, for their power. They fear privatisation. At heart, they fear that they will be held to account for their absurd cost and tangential effects on those in their care.

Come on Ken, do us all a favour...


  1. I didn't vote conservative but I am actually very positive about Ken Clarke as Justice Minister. He was the last Home Secretary (before Howard) to refuse to be swayed by the indignant howls of the righteous mob, given fodder by the red tops. He has repeatedly called from an end to the rise in the prison population and for a more creative approach to criminal justice.

    I think he is an inspired choice for Justice Secretary and it is one area of the new administration I think can be genuinely progressive (although moving the Youth Justice Board away from a department focusing on child welfare was somewhat regressive).

    Ironically, the deficit may also work in our favour here - building more prisons is hardly a good use of public funds when such funds are stretched to the limit!

  2. Ken's a loose cannon and a (comparatively) free thinker. But the mob speaks with a louder voice? No vote was ever won by someone taking a reasonable line on penal reform. The only real hope is in the moneysaving argument? Could be a good stalking horse?

  3. Over on our Facebook page there is a template letter for those who wish to use it, plus Ken Clarke's address. Charles has a point about the wasted taxpayer's money...

  4. The real issue is IF Ken can finally distance the government from the red tops and baying masses and finally bring a semblance of civility to the CJS. To put power back in the hands of the Judges that pass sentence without the failed sentencing guidelines to sway their hands. Perhaps then we will be able to see Judges not "forced" to sentence to imprisonment and our shameful prison population can be reduced.