Weak, sleazy David Cameron appears to be getting ready to go into reverse over reforms to IPP sentencing and the prison system and once again deserts Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke as he seeks to reform Britain’s corrupt and failing justice system.
Although it usually pleases me greatly when I am proved to be right about certain aspects of politics in the UK, this is not one of those occasions. The only hope that ordinary people have of seeing fairness in sentencing and in the treatment of those held on Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPP) is in seeing Mr. Clarke force through his reforms.
It now looks as though those reforms are very much in jeopardy as the weakest prime minister for many years has once again caved in to his right-wing backbenchers and the tabloid newspapers.
For thousands of IPP prisoners who are long past the tariff laid down by the courts when they were sentenced, this comes as worrying news indeed. To their families, it is nothing short of devastation.
As the likes of right-wing, publicity-seeking conservative MP Philip Davies chuckle away in the background, the families and children of those incarcerated in an unjust and unfair penal system suffer as their loved ones remain in custody when they should have been given the chance of release long ago.
And to those ‘holier than thou’, sanctimonious individuals who believe that anyone who commits a serious offence in the UK should be thrown into prison and left there to rot for ever, I and TheOpinionSite.org say this:
Stop blaming others for the disappointment and failure of your own miserable lives and instead of taking it out on prisoners and criticising Mr. Clarke in his brave attempts to bring common sense into the field of justice, be ready to support and respect him in what he is trying to do. Remember, it could easily be your son or daughter or even yourself who through unexpected circumstances, false allegations or bad judgement ends up inside serving a sentence that should never have been introduced in the first place.
Even the Home Secretary, Theresa May who dislikes Mr. Clarke with a vengeance was today forced into a situation where she had to deny that Clarke and the Conservatives were being soft on crime. This must have been most uncomfortable for her as she disagrees with Mr. Clarke on almost every aspect of penal policy.
Meanwhile, at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, David Cameron did he is usual and very competent PR job in defending his Justice Secretary whilst at the same time trying desperately to avoid the looks of astonishment from those who have rightly branded Cameron both a weak and pathetic hypocrite and a liar.
Almost every day we see a new U-turn from David Cameron as he gives in to pressure from right wing pressure groups, the tabloids, his own furious backbenchers or other groups with vested interests in various areas of policy. Indeed, whereas Tony Blair was widely regarded as being a political dictator, Mr. Cameron is so weak as to be almost unbelievable.
Whether it be on the subject of forests, the NHS or penal reform, Mr. Cameron seems incapable of declaring a policy and seeing it through to the end, preferring instead to back away from difficult choices and in the process leaving his own Cabinet colleagues hanging out to dry.
Not only does Mr. Clarke now have the problem of trying to find further savings in a system that is already bankrupt but thanks to Cameron’s cowardice, he is also in the situation of having to somehow replace the loss of the one major policy that could have saved his department the money that has been requested by the Treasury.
Mr. Clarke’s intention had been to increase the discount given for an early guilty plea by those charged with any offence to 50%; an increase of about 17% of the current time discounted from a sentence. Whether it’s 33% or 50% is largely academic but the difference is still sufficient to worry back bench Conservative MPs who are terrified of accusations that the Conservatives are going soft on crime.
For years and years, ever since Michael Howard made his now notorious, nasty, vindictive and self-serving speech claiming that prison works, it has become more and more obvious to everyone that prison does not work in as much that those who come out of prison go on to reoffend within 1 to 2 years.
As previously stated by TheOpinionSite.org, the only way to make prison work in the way that Mr. Howard intended is never to release anyone at all. While such an approach may be popular with aging right-wing Tories, it is neither feasible nor fair, let alone lawful.
Ever since the Tory party described themselves as being the ‘party of law and order’ that millstone has been hanging around their neck threatening embarrassment and criticism from every side every time they try to rethink the penal system.
What we are seeing now is a rerun of a very old movie where people who sit on the back benches in the House of Commons are far more concerned with being re-elected than they are with introducing any real justice into our failed penal system.
With regard to IPP sentences, already long overdue for reform, the government once again finds itself in a particularly precarious position.
It cannot afford to go on keeping IPP prisoners in custody for years after their tariff expiry date yet at the same time, it does not have the guts to make the necessary reforms which would inevitably result in many IPP prisoners being released.
Given that it is now more or less universally acknowledged that the IPP sentence was badly drafted, not thought through and badly implemented, it is astonishing, even for David Cameron’s government, that any potential reforms have again been shelved and may very well be rejected altogether.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that if the proposed reforms of the IPP sentence are rejected or if their implementation fails, we will see one of the biggest miscarriages of justice ever to take place in the UK.
Whilst readers of the Sun newspaper and those of the Daily Mail may have very little sympathy for those behind bars, they need to recognise that what is happening to those convicted citizens could easily happen to them or to members of their own family. It is worth remembering that there are 96 different offences that carry an IPP, not 6.
Like it or not, Britain is a country that now has so much criminal legislation that it is almost impossible for anyone to leave their home and get to work without breaking the law somewhere along the way. If they do break the law, people face some of the longest sentences in Europe.
It has long been a principal in this country that when a convicted person has served his sentence, he should be readmitted and reintegrated into the society against which he originally offended.
If that precious principle of justice is destroyed for the sake of political expediency or because our weak and pathetic Prime Minister cannot stand up for his own policies of penal reform, it will not only be a tragedy but also a travesty of the so-called ‘justice and fairness’ which Conservative politicians and tacky tabloid newspapers both claim to support yet always, for their own selfish benefit, take pleasure in preventing.