The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Thank Labour For Ken Clarke

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 30, 2010 @ 20:56

Even that is allowed in prisons. Wot a libertarian he is!

A thought occurred to me earlier while I was pondering the very interesting news regarding the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s plans to reform the prison system.

Ken Clarke is the Justice Secretary. A role created by Labour because they wanted to divide the Home Office into more manageable chunks. This was a good thing. As the pressures of political office grow, it does make sense to try to make unwieldy portfolios into something a little less impossible.

This left the Home Office as a sort of “Ministry for the Interior”. Very continental.

The Home Office is now occupied by that bastion of liberalism, Teresa May. One of my customers, days after her appointment, told me he’d written a letter to her, telling her to be “strong” and “bold”. He said he knew her when he was a member of her constituency association, and that she would have grave problems with the Home Office because she’s “too weak for the job”. I digress…

Taking prisons and sentencing policy away from the Home Office was a very good idea. It means, now, that someone wholly separate, someone who doesn’t really have to look tough and beat prisoners into pulps to win votes can make the office their own.

Step forward Ken Clarke.

Today’s news, that the coalition couldn’t be further from the “prison works” line of the 90s, is music to my ears. There is probably no one else in the Tory Party I’d rather see in the role of Justice Secretary, as a man who has clearly recognised that locking minor criminals up has no effect on how likely they are to reoffend.

But the fact is, there is no way Ken Clarke would have been in the position to put today’s words into action had Labour not split the Home Office in two. Because the Tory part of the coalition would not have been able to put anyone too weak and liberal in that department. It would have had the Bill Cash’s of this world spinning in their graves. Oh, hang on, Bill Cash MP is still very much alive.

Let’s hope Ken Clarke can work away, quietly, in the shadows, and make some genuine steps towards reforming the way prisons work, or rather don’t work, in this country.

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