Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Ken Clarke - Management By Cost Centre

For "Rehabilitation Revolution" read "20% cost reduction".

They've been trying rehabilitation ever since the 1950s :

"We all know Grendon's the prison of the future; loving and understanding and getting to know the prisoners is now official policy, not only of the Home Office but of the Prison Officers' Association as well. If you say you don't approve of it, down it'll go in your record; and when you come up for consideration for promotion, you'll find you've been unaccountably passed by."

With conspicuous lack of success :

"They said I was a product of my environment and upbringing. That made me feel it wasn't my fault, so the last person that I looked at was me and that's the first place I needed to look."

But Ken don't care about that. He's been given a job to do - to cut the cost of the Prison Service and the criminal justice system - and by God he's going to do it. That's what makes him the reliable chap that he is, and such a useful man to have in Government. A lesser - or shall we say less useful - man might have argued the toss, pointed out that defending the lives, property and liberty of the citizens is the primary duty of any state, reminded Cameron of the association (however undeserved, if we look at the 1980s) in the public mind of the Conservative Party with a robust attitude to crime and criminals, dug in his toes and defended his budget. Not Ken. It doesn't matter that

a) the costs will be transferred from the State to individuals - in the form of burglaries and assaults for many, rape, bodily harm and homicides for the unfortunate, insurance premiums for householders, quality of life for everyone.

b) these costs will in total be much greater than the amount saved.

c) they will fall most heavily upon the poor and vulnerable. I doubt Ken will be troubled by too much anti-social behaviour in whichever expensive village his mansion is located.

I told you the honeymoon would be short.

The only action of this government which really raised my spirits was a symbolic one - Cameron's refusal to take off his poppy when he found himself in China on Remembrance Day. The Chinese, showing an uncharacteristic botanical ignorance, confused Papaver Rhoeas, as worn by Cameron, with Papaver Somniferum, as forcibly sold to China in one of the less heroic chapters of our history.

For a moment the unconquerable spirit of Private John Moyse flickered - and Cameron followed it up with a visit the following day to the memorial at Imjin in South Korea, where fifty-nine years ago the Glorious Glosters, facing overwhelming odds and eventually overrun, killed and wounded several thousand troops of the People's Republic of China, saving Seoul thereby at the Battle of the Imjin River.

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