Sunday, 16 May 2010

Will we ever see a “liberal” Home Secretary?

It is has been said that a conservative is a liberal whose been mugged and a Liberal is a conservative whose been wrongly arrested.

There may some truth in this but in the case of two actual Conservatives who have been rightly convicted (Aitken and Archer) their experience has lead both to call for prison reform and have pointed out the poor literacy of the prison population).

The one appointment that would have possibly made me more enthusiastic over the Con-Lib Dem coalition would have been if we had seen the appointment of a liberal-reforming. Home Secretary and Minister for Justice. Theresa May has had little liberal credentials, though Ken Clarke might have (I doubt that he will last though).

It is not since the days of Roy Jenkins that any Home Secretary (when the post were as one) pushed through any genuine liberal reforms. Both Tory and Labour administrations have put forward a conservative agenda when it came to their remit in these areas. Indeed most Labour Home Secretary's like David Blunkett were worse at times.

There will probably be no real attempt at reforming Social Justice, and in fields such as prison reform the new government, as (all have in recent years) have bowed far too often to tabloid pressure. Indeed it some times seems that the Editor of the Sun Newspaper, is in charge of social and criminal  judicial policy as can be seen in the recent out cry over the return to prison of Jon Venables and the baying of the Tabloid mob that followed.

We will no doubt see the scraping of ID cards but this will be as a result of political opportunism  by the Tories in opposition. I suspect many on the authoritarian wing of the Tory party secretly supported such measures I also suspect they will bring it in by other means probably making it difficult to exist without  some form of ID. If you don't have a driving licence like me you know this already is the case.

There will be an increase in the Prison population and decrease in efforts to rehabilitate offenders by education when in Prison ,  cuts for social care outside prison, and call for harsher sentences.

Incidentally when I took the Telegraph test on who to vote for. One question stumped me.

"Are you in favour of building more prisons in order to ease overcrowding"

Well I wasn't in favour of building more Prisons, but I was in favour of reducing prison numbers and overcrowding. I was also in favour of building prisons nearer to where offenders lived. (I  support a new North Wales prison) but I am concerned with reducing the prison population.

Despite what Michael Howard said, Prison does not work and we appear to be the only European country to think so.

Immigration control will be come harsher and it will be the innocents who suffer and there will be no real attempt to prosecute those who exploit immigrants or stricter controls on gang masters. If there are immigrants taking jobs from British (or Welsh)  Workers it because employers (through gang masters) can employ cheap non union staff in bulk. The problem as always since (Irish immigration in the 19th century) has been one of capitalism not the immigrants themselves.

I doubt that we will a progressive reformer in these posts as in the USA "liberal" has become a dirty word propagated by media such as Fox. It will happen here and Prime Ministers of any colour will not have the courage to confront and remove any reformer.

Any opposition to this will be derided as the work of  “Bleeding Heart Liberals” and do-gooders (though who want to be a do-badder or do-nothinger).

The real chance of progressive change in our social and judicial policy may have been lost forever, and we will go on copying the USA in policies which create good headline in the press that will be portrayed as being successful, whilst the true extent of their failure is masked.


  1. While I agree with most of your sentiments, they may be better expressed with good grammar and spelling.

  2. I agree I will try to take more time.