Thursday, May 15, 2008

To make the punishment fit the space ... the punishment fit the space !

Prison sentences would be set nationally by an independent body depending on the amount of space in jails, under government plans.

Proposals for a Sentencing Commission are in the draft Queen's Speech.

A Justice Ministry spokesman said it could lead to more community sentences - but there would not be shorter jail terms for serious offenders.

For once the Tories have got it right - refusing to join the Parliamentary working group on these disastrous proposals.

Having a national framework for sentencing would make it easier to predict the future size of the prison population and would not be constantly adjusted to reflect fluctuations in capacity, the government argues.

Can't argue with that. It certainly will be easier to predict. And the advantage of that in reducing crime will be .. ?

It's interesting to look at this foolishness in the light of reports from the Youth 'Justice' Board that violent offences by young men and women have risen by 40% in the last three years.

It looks as if the Youth 'Justice' system is working on the 'let the punishment fit the space' principle :

The figures show that robberies committed by youngsters rose by 45 per cent to 6,855, criminal damage increased by 32 per cent to 40,900 and public order crimes increased by 17 per cent to 23,000.

The number of youngsters sent to child jails or other secure accommodation remains stable and is running at about 7,000 a year.
So the offences are rocketing - but it's certainly easy to predict the size of the banged-up youth population. The only bit that falls by the wayside is " there would not be shorter jail terms for serious offenders".

In related news, Pauline Campbell, the mother of Sarah Campbell, has died a pointless and wasteful death of an overdose beside the grave of her daughter, who died a pointless and wasteful death of an overdose in Styal Prison, Cheshire.

Poor Pauline Campbell. I must say that in our one communication she expressed great pity and feeling for the family of the man her daughter killed. It's just that you never saw that in the Guardian. But she responded to the death of her daughter, a smackhead convicted of manslaughter, not by campaigning against smack or for the victims of manslaughter, but by campaigning for more resources to be devoted to caring for imprisoned criminals. She hadn't lost a moral compass - the poor thing never had one to lose. Like one or two other mothers of dead children, she was happy to be used as a weapon by activists. It's a tragedy.

I wonder where Sarah Campbell's dad is ? He's been the dog that didn't bark all the way along.

Oops !

Medics and nurses have been known to make the odd unflattering remark about their patients - but strictly between themselves. Few have gone so far as to leave them on the patient's answerphone.

A hospital has apologised after staff inadvertently left an insulting message on a teenage patient's telephone.

The message said Sharon Roberts, 19, was a "smelly drunk with black teeth".

It was left by staff at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, who were reminding her about an appointment - but then carried on talking.


I wanted Rangers to win, but win or lose this was a pretty predictable headline. I was in Manchester in 1974 when Rangers played at Old Trafford in a 'friendly'. United supporters were hiding their scarves as they got off the train at Victoria and 'the violence was the worst Old Trafford has ever seen'.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Don't talk to me about Bagel Street

Thanks for the cash and the work ...

Cheers, Gordon. An extra £120 a year will go a little way to offsetting the (approx) £350 a year extra fuel duty we're paying - and the extra £150 for taxing the cars.

I might even get to code the tax changes. It's all work.

They seem to be running scared at the moment.

And it looks as if even the current social care ripoff (for the English) is considered too generous.

There was "no option" but to sell the house to fund the cost of the home, which they are very happy with but is costly at £700 a week, says Susan.

"After a while it dawned on Mum that this was for good. She became very low when the house was actually gone."

My uncle felt just the same way when his house had to be sold to pay nursing home fees when he had terminal cancer. I thought the NHS was for sick people like that, but there you go. He was an independent sort who spent every spare minute on the house and it broke his heart having to sell it. Naked he came into the world and naked departed it.

Once upon a time families would care for their elderly. Now fewer and fewer even care for their own children.

The number of stay-at-home parents has fallen by a fifth to its lowest level in 15 years, a YouGov poll has found.

Now, 2.2 million parents stay at home, down on 2.8 million in 1993, the survey commissioned by said.

Many of the 2,198 adults surveyed - of which 1,391 were parents - cited the rising cost of living as the main reason for returning to work.

We were lucky that I earned enough for Susan to stay at home for eight years. For many it's a choice between raising your own kids and keeping a roof over your head. Yet some people manage it, sacrificing the holidays and consumer durables for the chance to raise the next generation.

PS - knee hurting. Switching to rowing machine !

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Very Good Year

Mark Steyn's stuff on music is as good as his political writing. A year or two back he wrote a wonderful piece about the creation of Wimoweh (aka 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'). Then it disappeared behind the Steyn firewall, never to be seen again by mortal man.

Here's his take on Frank Sinatra's A Very Good Year. Get it while you can.

And while you're at it, before it goes - get the strange story of the man who wrote Nature Boy.

(Frank's arranger Gordon Jenkins also arranged the first American version of Wimoweh, after collector Alan Lomax introduced Solomon Linda's original to folkie Pete Seeger. Not much resemblance between it and this.)