Posts Tagged ‘sentencing’

Knife crime: Cameron’s pre-election lies and subsequent betrayal

06/06/2011, 03:00:54 PM

by Matt Cavanagh

Five years ago, shortly after he became Conservative leader, David Cameron made a speech in which he called on politicians to “stop making incredible promises that the public do not believe they will keep”. He announced a “taskforce” that would help him sort out this problem. The man he asked to chair it was Ken Clarke.

Last week, Ken Clarke’s department released figures showing how he and Cameron are getting on with one particular promise Cameron made loudly and often while in opposition: that anyone caught carrying a knife would go to jail.

In fact, Clarke had already let slip back in December that this promise had been abandoned. But the latest figures show that, never mind everyone caught carrying a knife going to jail, in fact, a smaller proportion are going to jail now than under Labour. This was greeted with predictable outrage by the Sun, Telegraph and others who have campaigned for tougher sentences on knife crime.

Tory MPs have also reacted angrily, blaming either Clarke, the Liberal Democrats, or the judges. But on this issue, the blame must go to the top. Back in 2008, it was David Cameron who personally led the Conservatives’ attack on Labour’s response to the moral panic over knife crime then gripping the country. He encouraged the media and the public to believe it was the job not of judges but of politicians, and in particular the prime minister, to ensure that people caught carrying a knife were getting the punishment they deserved. He made his position clear in July 2008, in an exclusive interview with the Sun: “anyone caught carrying a knife will be jailed under a Tory Government, David Cameron vows today. The Conservative leader declares automatic jail terms for carrying a dangerous knife is the only way of smashing the current epidemic gripping broken Britain”.


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Lessons from Ken week: the fake allure of “false choice”

24/05/2011, 07:00:41 AM

by Dan Hodges

“It’s a false choice”, we were told. Labour could let the liberals have their cake, and allow the squeezed middle to gorge on it as well.

Those warning that their party must decide between appealing to the “progressive majority”, and our lost small “c” conservative base, were trouble makers. Jaded soldiers, trying to fight the last war. Blairite “ultras”, unwilling or unable to come to terms with the brave world of the new politics.

There was no need to choose. To do so would be painful and divisive. Premature. We have had our fill of pain and division. Surely we’ve earned the right to rest awhile?

So rest we did.

Until last Wednesday. When the justice secretary barged in on Victoria Derbyshire, told her to stop being such a silly girl, and blithely explained that some rapes were worse than others and letting out the perpetrators half way through their sentences was a jolly good thing for their victims, and a jolly good thing for the country as well.

At which point, the centre-left rose as one. Took a deep breath. And went screamingly, maniacally, insane.


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Let’s not join the Tories in going soft on sentencing, says Nick Keehan

06/10/2010, 10:30:49 AM

Ken Clarke played the hard man at the Tory conference yesterday. Prisoners will work a full forty hour week, he told them. “A regime of hard work” will teach them a lesson. It was what they wanted to hear.

He didn’t tell them that, under his watch, a wind of change has swept through the ministry of justice. No longer is there talk of ‘getting tough’ on ‘local crooks’. Instead, the ministry has taken to promoting the positive role that offenders are playing in their communities.

‘Where would we be without offenders?’ someone who reads MoJ press releases might ask. School children in Zambia would be using dangerous paraffin lamps (‘Offenders help students in Africa’, 14 June), and people in Wales would be having trouble remembering both Princess Diana (‘Offenders create fitting memorial to Princess Diana’, 31 August) and the 142 miners killed in the explosion at Old Black Vain Colliery at Risca in 1860 (‘Offenders uncover lost memorial to miners’, 29 September).

Even worse, one woman in east London would be without her handbag, had not a group of offenders doing community payback been there to chase her mugger and reclaim it (‘Offenders to the rescue as woman mugged’, 13 July). This is how the big society will work.  Police numbers will be cut and offenders, no longer crowded out by the big state, will step in and tackle crime themselves. ‘More offenders on the street’ is the pledge (‘Revolving door of crime and reoffending to stop says Clarke’, 30 June). (more…)

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