I can't remember supporting opposition parties very often but sometimes there is an issue which I cannot bring myself to oppose, the release of Mr. Megrahi was one such case notwithstanding the SNP Justice Secretary McKaskill's hapless handling of it, this educated fool described Scotland as a "compassionate nation" while allowing him to go back to Libya, release yes return no; he should never have done the latter. It did not occur to McKaskill that there are approx. 8,000 people in Scottish prisons some of whom I can assure you are not in the least compassionate and far more uncaught villains as well, how about people like Brian Souter; David Murray; compassionate? what about the vicious mob of bigots who went to war with Wendy Alexander over clause 28, compassionate my 'Jim Royle' Some are compassionate and some not; some good and some bad; exactly the same as other nations absolutely no different. Having said that I personally support shorter sentencing and more use of community orders, which is SNP policy or at least it was last week. There also remains a big doubt about the SNP's reasoning on this. Is it philosophical and driven by penal reform or is it to save money, I shouldn't have to ask that question but it is the SNP we are dealing with.
Carrying on in this confessional mode I want to say that I support the line being taken by the Tory Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke who wants to jail fewer people, there is a question however about Clarke's ability to carry his party with him on this issue. The natural home for many Tories is still Jurassic Park and their philosophy is still 'hang em and flog em' if you add Clarke's desperation to save money, a fact which lets him indulge in his One Nation Toryism you see that his position is weak. Proposals to introduce training, education and drug treatment in prisons were immediately attacked as tax payers paying for "parties in prison" by the Hitler supporting stalwart Tory Daily Mail.
Clarke is astute enough to know that this could be a double win, penal reform and money saved, 70% of short term prisoners reoffend within a year while prisoners who do community sentences are far more successful it takes education and support to do it but the long term savings far outweigh the costs of reoffending, it all makes sense but the red top press don't do sense and they will present a formidable barrier to reform, can Cameron stand the heat? my guess is no he can't but, good luck to Clarke anyway. Since I'm on a roll I will now see eye to eye with Winston Churchill who said apparently in a moment of rare sobriety round about mid morning usually just before the world started to slip out of focus "A humane prison system is an unfailing test of the civilisation of any country"
What I am about to say is what I believe and it is not because I enjoy being inundated with reactionary moronic comments. I'm not the most religious man but there are those who do claim to be very religious Christians who are happy in their hatred to ignore Jesus who said "visit the prisoner" he was of course a prisoner himself and could be said to have died in custody.
The Prison Reform Trust is campaigning to give prisoners the vote, enfranchising prisoners will be a huge step in making them more responsible it is the right thing to do and is enshrined in European Law, it is an idea whose time has come. We take prisoners who are illiterate and innumerate and put them in jail then several years later we release them still illiterate and innumerate, if there is anything more downright stupid and counterproductive than that then I have still to discover it, the British prison system needs an enema.