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

  • Comment Labour is the real party of the family

    Labour is the real party of the family

    It has been a pleasure to guest edit LabourList today on the hugely important issue of families. We’ve had fantastic contributions from a wide range of people. All of the pieces send a clear message: Labour is the real party of the family. We understand that many families are struggling under this government. We know they want to support and care for one another, and to build a better life, but they need a government that will back their efforts […]

    Read more →
  • Comment PMQs Verdict: Think of those who will have a distinctly un-Merry Christmas, thanks to Cameron

    PMQs Verdict: Think of those who will have a distinctly un-Merry Christmas, thanks to Cameron

    There’s a risk at Christmas time of going through the motions at work in the run up to Christmas. It’s dark and cold outside, and all you really want to be doing is sorting out the Christmas tree, finishing your shopping and eating mince pies. (Obviously that’s not the case at LabourList – and certainly not the reason why this PMQs verdict is arriving three hours after Cameron and Miliband sat down. Ahem…). There was an element of pre-Christmas about […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Too many carers miss out on the support they need

    Too many carers miss out on the support they need

    One in eight adults, 6.5 million people in the UK, are already caring for a family member or close friend who is frail or facing long-term illness or disability. Every day, 6,000 people take on caring responsibilities. Research done by Carers UK suggests that the number of unpaid family carers is predicted to rise to 9 million people in the next 25 years. Surveys have shown that fewer than one in ten people can correctly state the true scale of […]

    Read more →
  • News Tories and UKIP both spent three times as much as Labour in the European elections

    Tories and UKIP both spent three times as much as Labour in the European elections

    Both UKIP and the Conservative Party outspent Labour by almost three times during this year’s European election campaign. It was UKIP’s first victory in a national election, and Labour came in second place with big spenders the Tories falling behind to third. Labour were the only major party not to increase their election spending from the previous Euros in 2009 (when we finished a miserable third) and were even outspent this time around by the Lib Dems, who only won […]

    Read more →
  • Comment When we talk about work and family – we must not forget older women

    When we talk about work and family – we must not forget older women

    Christmas is fast approaching, for most of us it is a time for families, when we come together across the generations to share and spend time together.  But what of our families in the rest of the year?  Stories of isolation of older people and a ‘couldn’t care’ attitude amongst the young make the headlines.  But in my work with Labour’s Commission on Older Women I have heard a different story: of families relying more than ever on each other, […]

    Read more →