Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

Friday News Review

20/05/2011, 06:40:19 AM

Going, going…why has Ken not gone yet?

One of the most recognisable formats in British television – BBC1’s Question Time – displayed two startling variations, becoming, in a rare conflation of two elements of the judicial system, both a prison and the dock of a courtroom. But, however many criminals were in the audience, it was the justice secretary who spent the night on trial, following his suggestion on BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday that some rapes were less serious than others. The first question asked of the panel was whether Clarke’s remarks had been “clumsy, wrong or misconstrued?” and this issue, more Westminster than Wormwood, occupied the first half hour of the show. Clarke apologised again for giving offence, but in his characteristic bluff, elucidation-for-idiots voice, which risked seeming inappropriate from a politician whose best recovery tactic would surely be contrition and humility. He said he got “bogged down in a silly exchange”, which resulted in a “media brouhaha”. – the Guardian

The slide from grace of Ken Clarke has caused some glum faces amongst those who believe in a better penal. People who share my belief in prison reform as part of a policy to cut crime are worried as they see him being edged towards the cabinet room exit door. They are wrong. The necessary reforms to our justice system will never be carried out successfully by a government, and by those like Ken Clarke and David Cameron, who are so woefully out of touch with the real world. On Wednesday I heard Mr Clarke repeatedly fail to show that he understood his brief or demonstrate his ability to stand up for victims. In interviews he talked of “serious rape” involving “violence and an unwilling woman”. He differentiated between “serious attacks” and “date rape”. He talked of “classic rape”. In this he wasn’t just insensitive. He was wrong. Their prison policy is based not on the need for reform or increased rehabilitation for offenders. It is based on the need to cut costs. Their police policy isn’t based on what will make the streets safer but how to quickly find a 20 per cent cut in the police budget. Prison reformers should not support them. – the Independent, Ed Miliband

Kenneth Clarke yesterday came under fire again over his attitude to women – after it emerged he is closing 23 specialist rape and domestic violence courts. The Justice Secretary’s job was already on the line after he questioned whether date rape was a serious crime. Mr Clarke yesterday laughed off suggestions he should resign for his deeply offensive comments. But the Mirror can reveal he is proposing to axe one-in-six courts which help women who are victims of traumatic rape and domestic violence cases. Mr Clarke plans to close 142 courts – and 23 which house specialist domestic violence courts are on his hit list. The SDVCs were set up by Labour in 2005 to help women through the highly sensitive process of giving evidence in rape and domestic violence cases. – Daily Mirror

Another blow to Brown’s IMF bid

Gordon Brown will stake his claim to be the next head of the International Monetary Fund with a speech in South Africa on Friday urging rich western nations to meet their pledges on education to the world’s poor. As jockeying began to fill the job of managing director of the Washington-based organisation left vacant by the resignation ofDominique Strauss-Kahn, the former prime minister will seek to negate opposition to his candidature from David Cameron’s coalition government with a direct appeal to developing countries. Brown will share a platform with Graça Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela, to launch his review of education, criticising the G8 countries for their failure to provide the aid necessary to meet the United Nations target of putting every child into school by 2015. Bookmakers have made Brown an outsider for the IMF job, installing the French finance minister Christine Lagarde as favourite to succeed her fellow countryman following his arrest at the weekendin New York over sexual assault allegations. – the Guardian

Gordon Brown’s dream of replacing disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF has been hit by yet more criticism from within Britain. Business Secretary Vince Cable said that the IMF’s top job should go to someone who understands the internal problems of the Eurozone. That follows on from the refusal by Prime Minister David Cameron to back Brown for the post and his chances now appear limited as the French finance minister Christine Lagarde emerges as the favourite for the job. The IMF’s board could meet as soon as tomorrow to kick off the process of replacing him and the favoured Eurozone candidates appear to be Ms. Lagarde, 55, and former Turkish finance minister Kemal Dervis. – Daily Mail

Goodwin causes gag concessions

The Master of the Roll, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, is expected to address concerns over the secrecy of the gagging orders. It comes after the High Court partially lifted an injunction obtained by the former head of Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Fred Goodwin. Lord Neuberger, the most senior civil judge in England and Wales, has chaired a year-long inquiry by a committee of judges and lawyers. The report – to be published later – comes at a time of unprecedented public interest and debate about the use of injunctions. On Thursday, Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham used parliamentary privilege to tell the Lords that Sir Fred Goodwin had obtained an injunction to prevent reporting of a relationship he is alleged to have had with a senior colleague. Lord Stoneham’s intervention caused the anonymity element of his injunction to be lifted at the High Court. – BBC News

Repression in Bahrain, handshakes and smiles in Downing Street

In Bahrain, it was another day of violence and repression as the Saudi-backed Al-Khalifa dynasty continued to clamp down on protesters demanding a better life for the repressed Shia majority. But in Downing Street, David Cameron exchanged a warm handshake with Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. While other Arab tyrants feel the full force of British disapproval, Sheikh Salman is here on a mission to repair the damaged reputation of his dynasty. His visit prompted an outcry from politicians and civil rights campaigners. It came on the day when President Obama delivered his first major speech on the Arab Spring, which he said would open a “new chapter in American diplomacy”. “It will be the policy of the US to promote reform, and to support transitions to democracy,” he promised. – the Independent

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