Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Poor Communication

From the Ed:

Some of you may be interested to know that I wrote to Jack Straw back in November about Ben.  One of his minions fobbed me off with a letter saying that as I am not a Blackburn constituent I should write to my own MP or to the House of Commons.  I was a bit puzzled by this, having sent my letter to the London address in the first place, so I contacted Lord Ramsbotham, who made a comment on the Guardian article about Ben’s continued incarceration being “unnecessary and expensive”. On his instigation, I wrote again to our Jack.  That was over a month ago. Still no response – not even an acknowledgement.  I don’t think we can blame the postal strike, Xmas, or the snow for this lack of communication.  I am now going to try e-mailing him, although the address I was given is not very encouraging:


  1. I regret that i think you are banging your head against a brick wall on this. I wrote to my MP Ann Widdecome, (who is very good incidently) about a friend of mine, who got a huge prison sentence for "stealing" (liberating i say) an abused pet dog. Afraid as an MP, mine even, she cannot get involved.

  2. The depressing thing about your Jack (I'm having none of him)is that, while he has always been the enemy of criminal justice (viz his sacking of Saint Rambo), and while he has always been able hide his wiles beneath a sea of smarm, he's lost that knack. His face now permanently betrays a hideous mix of deceit and panic. I think it's only fear that gets to him these days; he's gone at the welt; a bunch of blog-followers holds no terrors for him. He no longer has a principled bone in his body.

    I, too, will write to that black-hole email address. But I hesitate to propose anything which might inspire terror in the man because to do so would probably bring down a swarm of Special Branchers on my peaceful domestic setting.

    The problem, Ed, is that it's not just Ben. Yes, his is an especially egregious example of wrongful imprisonment. But there are so many others - and so few 'on the out' who give a damn. It's more depressing than I can express in words. The cause of prison reform in this country is more or less stuck at first base.

    Having said which, well done you. Your optimism and your positive action are an excellent antidote to despair.

  3. Good luck with your efforts - I have used that email address and all one ever gets back is a waste of time and effort. But please don't give up.

    I am sure that almost all of the public could see no point in keeping Ben in prison - but this government could not care less about what the public want. The government's mindset about Ben is the same as it is regarding short-tariff indeterminate sentenced prisoners that they will not release even though these people would not now get an indeterminate sentence as the law has been changed. I have recently heard of someone with a 4 month tariff on an indeterminate sentence and he is in prison nearly 5 years later!! Some serious offenders are having to be let out because they have determinate sentences so the government are keeping other people in to satisfy the media and make it look like they are being strong. Keep at it - anything we can do to help - Ben should not be in prison and nor should the short tariff indeterminate sentence prisoners (IPPs). You are brilliant and I wish there were more like you.

  4. For what it's worth I did a little experiment last year to test the parties on something that's important to me.

    It was with regard to the sentences passed down for violent crime against disabled people being far more lenient than they are when the victim of the same crime is able bodied.

    Bog standard emails from Labour and Conservative. Nick Clegg's secretary thanked me for my email...then Nick Clegg emailed me the next day! The reply referred to all the points I made in my original email which showed he'd actually read it and I was satisfied with the answers he gave me so you might want to give them a try.

    My friend also had the same experience when she emailed the main parties, this time on the issue of treatment carers for mental health patients.

  5. I feel sad that nobody listens any more. Ordinary people don't seem to have much of a voice. If it is futile for us to voice a opinion, how must it be for prisoners, who don't even have the right to vote? Ok, so they are there for a reason, but I am rapidly losing faith in our justice system, and as for the government..... Thank you for making the effort to write this blog. I wonder if any politicians ever take a break from spending our hard earned taxes to read it?

  6. Well done Ed. Thank you and best wishes. Will give that email address a shot.

    I (perhaps mistakenly) emailed my (Labour) MP directly regarding Ben's situation. Got nothing, not even an acknowledgement.

    Fortunately, due to the vagaries of electioneering, as of May we will be in a Liberal constituency. I suppose until then I am unofficially MP-less...

  7. @Giana,

    Interesting you should say that. My brushes with Lib Dem MPs have also shown them to be rather more understanding of issues and, importantly, evidence. This is an interesting article:

    My local MP is Tory Bernard Jenkin (meh)and to his credit he responds quickly in a way that shows he has at least read my emails. Unfortunately, his response is too often "a change of government would fix everything VOTE TORY", which usually results in quick dispatch of the letter to the circular file.

  8. Wigarse said:
    My local MP is Tory Bernard Jenkin (meh)and to his credit he responds quickly in a way that shows he has at least read my emails. Unfortunately, his response is too often "a change of government would fix everything VOTE TORY", which usually results in quick dispatch of the letter to the circular file.

    Exactly the same here!! Just that very same bog-standard reply.

    My local tory keeps sending me letters and I feel like writing back to him and saying 'Look!! I'm not going to vote for you so STOP sending me junk mail, you a***hole!'. LOL

  9. After maligning my(soon to be former) Labour MP over her failure to reply to my email, I got a lengthy, detailed and strangely sweet letter back which was entirely sympathetic in a generic sort of way, and promised to pass details on to a number of departments for their response. This response only took two months. Perhaps Labour will still be in power when I get the promised next wave...


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