We must campaign urgently to support Ken Clarke

29th June, 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 Seats and Selections Coventry North West: Might Geoffrey Robinson stay on as an MP after all?

    Coventry North West: Might Geoffrey Robinson stay on as an MP after all?

    Yesterday evening we reported that Coventry North West MP Geoffrey Robinson was considering stepping down from the Commons at the very last minute – only hours after Parliament shut down for the election – with rumours circulating that a Miliband aide was one of those in the running for the seat. Yet after a tetchy 24 hours (in which the local party have announced plans for an emergency meeting tomorrow night to discuss their options) it now appears that Robinson […]

    Read more →
  • News Miliband announces “profit-cap” to curb private sector profiteering in the NHS

    Miliband announces “profit-cap” to curb private sector profiteering in the NHS

    Ed Miliband today announced that a Labour government would award fewer NHS contracts, and introduce a “profit cap” for private sector contractors in the NHS to stop profiteering at the public’s expense. Speaking at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park in London, Miliband repeated Labour’s pledges to invest more in the NHS so that the health service has “time to care”, as well as unveiling what he described as a “double lock” to protect the NHS. Labour’s plans include: Imposing a profit […]

    Read more →
  • News Miliband launches election campaign – full speech

    Miliband launches election campaign – full speech

    Today Ed Miliband launched Labour’s General Election campaign from the top of the “orbital” overlooking the Olympic Park in East London. Here’s the full text of that speech: Thank you, Agnes. Thank you, Harriet. And thank you all for being here. We are here today to launch our campaign in the tightest general election for a generation. And what an amazing place to do it. The site of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The place where all of the United […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour needs to reclaim liberty for the left

    Labour needs to reclaim liberty for the left

    ‘Liberty’, Liz Kendall and Lisa Nandy argue in a collection of essays published by Compass yesterday, ‘should be reclaimed as a defining ideal of left of centre politics in England’. It was a nice coincidence I read colleague David Carpenter’s wonderful commentary on Magna Carta the same week Finding Our Voice. Making the Twenty First Century State came out. Liberty is an important theme in British politics 800 years after Magna Carta was sealed, and inevitably I was thinking about […]

    Read more →
  • News LabourList survey: Readers say Miliband is doing well (and back him on debates)

    LabourList survey: Readers say Miliband is doing well (and back him on debates)

    Last night the first round of the debates took place (if you can call Cameron and Miliband being interview separately a debate). On April 16th, Ed Miliband has agreed to appear in a “challenger’s debate” alongside the leaders of UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. This move has been criticised by many as it could be that Miliband will get attacked by these other party leaders. However, earlier in the week Maya Goodfellow made the case for him […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit