We must campaign urgently to support Ken Clarke

June 29, 2011 2:56 pm

pentonville prisonBy Brian Barder / @brianlb

Recently, I celebrated what looked like the impending abolition of the vicious system of IPPs, or Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection.

It seems I spoke too soon.

Ken Clarke’s enlightened proposal to replace IPPs by longer fixed sentences for serious crimes in the Justice Bill shortly to go through parliament is under strong attack, not only from the more reactionary of the tabloids and the usual suspects on the right of the Conservative Party, but now also, incredibly, from the Labour Party in parliament: see, for example, the report in the Guardian of June 29th, including especially its report of remarks by Labour’s shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan MP. There is mounting evidence that this combination of forces gearing up to oppose reform of IPPs may well inflict yet another defeat on one of the most liberal and enlightened features of Ken Clarke’s penal reform programme, already largely emasculated by the Prime Minister’s fear of the tabloids. If Labour too persists in opposing abolition of IPPs, that might well tip the scales against this reform.

So there’s an urgent need for everyone who recognises the case for ending the cruel and unjust system of IPPs to email or write to their MPs or Ed Miliband, or Sadiq Khan MP (the Labour shadow Justice secretary) or David Cameron, or as many as possible of them, urging them to put their principles before their fear of being labelled ‘soft on crime’ and to support the replacement of IPPs by fixed sentences for the most serious crimes.

Please also consider writing about it to a national or, failing that, your local newspaper. There’s an increasingly urgent need to do everything possible to stimulate support for the replacement of IPPs in the imminent Justice Bill, and in particular to try to shame the Labour leadership in the House of Commons into dropping its shocking support for the most reactionary elements in UK politics who are campaigning to keep IPPs. If you have influence with MPs, ministers or shadow ministers, or with civil rights groups such as Liberty, Justice, the Howard League, or the Prison Reform Trust, please go into top gear and do everything possible to mobilise vocal public support for ending indeterminate sentences, as currently proposed in Ken Clarke’s reform programme (what’s left of it).

Some of the arguments against IPPs are deployed, for example here, here and here, including especially the numerous ‘comments’ appended to these, many of them from the families, children, parents and lovers of the more than 3,000 prisoners serving indeterminate sentences who have served the punishment element of their sentences but see no hope of ever being released.

Time is running out. Please do whatever you can, and urge your friends, colleagues and contacts to take action too.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • News Labour outline clear plan to train 10,000 more nurses

    Labour outline clear plan to train 10,000 more nurses

    Following two big speeches on the NHS from Ed Miliband and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham today, Labour have announced this evening that they would increase the number of nurse training places. This plan would  see more than 10,000 extra places created in the next Parliament, and would be paid for by the Time to Care investment fund (the £2.5 billion made from the mansion tax, stamping down on tax avoidance and the levy on tobacco firms). This policy looks […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Video Did Ed Balls rule out a coalition with the SNP today?

    Did Ed Balls rule out a coalition with the SNP today?

    It is being reported that Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls ruled out the possibility of a Labour coalition with the SNP during an interview with Sky News earlier. Presenter Dermot Murnaghan suggested that, according to Sky News election projections, “the SNP could more or less wipe out Labour in Scotland. He then asked: “You as the largest party would end up in a coalition with them. Is that a deal you could do?” Ed Balls replied: “No. And I don’t think anybody is suggesting […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour pledge to take in more refugees of Syria crisis as Government accept just 90 in one year

    Labour pledge to take in more refugees of Syria crisis as Government accept just 90 in one year

    Shadow Home Office minister David Hanson has today slammed the Government for allowing just 90 refugees from Syria to enter the UK. In under four years of civil war in the country, it is estimated that nine million people have been displaced from their homes. In an article in The Independent, Hanson notes that this week marks a year since the Home Office began to accept refugees fleeing the crisis into Britain, following pressure from Labour and thousands of campaigners. […]

    Read more →
  • News Poorer households affected the most by Coalition’s “selective cuts”, report finds

    Poorer households affected the most by Coalition’s “selective cuts”, report finds

    The poorest in society have suffered the most under the Coalition, a report from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in partnership with the University of Manchester and of York has found.  The report reveals that as a result of the Government’s policies on direct taxes, tax credits and benefits, poverty has been on the rise and over the next five year is set to get worse. Researchers found real spending on early education, child care and […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Are shortlists shortchanging BME and women candidates? 

    Are shortlists shortchanging BME and women candidates? 

    Recently, there have been calls for an All Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) shortlist to complement Labour’s All-Women Shortlists. At first blush, one would would assume that as a black and asian woman, I would be championing these double opportunities, not just as opportunity knocks but as opportunity squared. However, there’s more to this argument than meets the eye. With gender, there is an issue of numbers. Men at 49%, are the statistical minority, just. All-Women Shortlists (“AWS”) therefore are a correction […]

    Read more →