Sunday, December 12, 2010
A dripping wet Tory
Freed mentally ill prisoners could 'bump someone off' - but they should NOT be in prison, claims British Justice Secretary. And he calls OTHER people "loopy"! He should be put out to grass, where he belongs
Kenneth Clarke was branded ‘pig-headed’ by a fellow Tory MP last night after saying the public must accept the danger that his plan to free mentally ill prisoners could lead to someone being ‘bumped off’. The Justice Secretary said it was ‘loopy’ to claim crime could be solved by sending all criminals to jail.
And he airily dismissed reports that he had clashed with David Cameron over his prison shake-up, saying: ‘I’m not going to start analysing the Prime Minister. He’s not where I am in the party, that’s true.’
Mr Clarke defended his policy of reducing the number of mentally ill and drug addicts in jail. [Those two are not the same at all] ‘Most members of the public, if they met some of the mentally ill people in prison would think, “What on earth is this person doing here?” People would be shocked by how bad the conditions are in some prisons. People think they are hotels. There are quite a few hard nicks out there that would dispel that myth.’
Asked what would happen if a mentally unstable offender released under his new regime stabbed someone to death, Mr Clarke said: ‘The first time someone bumps someone off the fortnight after they are let out, there will be absolute outrage. 'But you have to explain to the sensible public that you can’t give an absolute guarantee. ‘It’s about greatly reducing the risk of incidents like this happening. We can do that by providing these people with proper treatment.’ [Only if they keep taking their pills, which many don't] He acknowledged: ‘I suppose I’m more liberal than most Conservatives.’
Mr Clarke said he is determined to press ahead with what he calls a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ designed to curb the high rate of re-offending by prisoners. He says it is a vital part of his plan to reverse the doubling in the prison population to 85,000 since the early Nineties. He said: ‘Crime is also caused by social, educational and economic factors, but it’s loopy to think you can solve it by locking everyone up. No one can argue that what we are doing now isn’t a failure.’
Contrary to Press reports, Mr Clarke said he did not intend to scrap all minimum recommended sentences for killers. ‘Murder is murder. Parliament must have a role in setting that sentence. But (the present guidelines) are nonsense. Why is it more serious for a battered wife to pick up a kitchen knife and stab her husband than for someone slowly to poison to death an old lady for her money?’
He defended judges against claims that they are all ‘wets and can’t be trusted’, saying: ‘I trust the judges more than some people do. ‘When I started they were seen as elderly, reactionary, savage men who didn’t understand the lives of ordinary people and imposed wicked long sentences.’
Mr Clarke, who is 70 and entered the Commons in 1970 when Mr Cameron was just three years old, played down persistent reports that the Prime Minister believes he is taking far too soft a line on crime and punishment. And he denied Mr Cameron had slapped him down over his proposal to abolish the minimum term murderers must serve before they can be let back on to the streets on parole.
‘Of course you do have to touch base with the Prime Minister,’ Mr Clarke observed casually. ‘We discussed it and it was all cleared, it didn’t take very long. ‘It was nothing like the meetings I had with Margaret Thatcher over health reforms when we had blazing rows. There isn’t a difference between us. I’m not going to start analysing the Prime Minister. He’s not where I am in the party, that’s true. He is Eurosceptic.
‘No one planned this prison explosion. It is doing harm. The re-offending rates are catastrophic. We have these overcrowded, dysfunctional prisons and we are not breaking the cycle of lock ’em up, let ’em out.’
Mr Clarke’s chief Tory opponent, Shipley MP Philip Davies, said: ‘Ken Clarke does have a tendency to political pig-headedness. His law and order beliefs are like his pro-Euro beliefs – he is equally wrong and equally adamant about both. 'It is a false argument for him to claim that those of us who want criminals sent to prison somehow do not believe in rehabilitation. It is a question of where the rehabilitation takes place.’
Conservative MPs are divided over laid-back grandee Mr Clarke. Some say his experience is a huge asset, but others claim his off-hand manner is as damaging as his lenient stance on prisons.
When popular ‘Cameron Cutie’ Essex Tory MP Priti Patel asked him for an assurance last week that scrapping laws designed to keep paedophiles behind bars until they are no longer dangerous would not backfire, Mr Clarke scoffed at ‘loony tunes’ critics. ‘He had no right to insult Priti like that and will pay for it if he isn’t careful,’ warned a fellow newly-elected female Tory MP.
And former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw says he fears Mr Clarke’s policies will lead to more lawlessness not less.
Film-maker Julian Hendy, whose father Philip was murdered in Bristol in 2007 by a mentally unstable man with a history of criminal behaviour, said Mr Clarke ‘sounded pretty glib’. Mr Hendy, who spent nearly three years researching mental health homicides in Britain after the murder, said: ‘I’d like to meet Ken Clarke to talk about the reality of losing someone to someone who has mental health problems.
‘Every year, 100 people are killed by someone who has mental health problems. It would be OK to release them if they were to get proper treatment – but the system is simply not up to it.'
Racial abuse against whites gets slap on the wrist in Britain
A teacher who was convicted of a race crime after calling a youth 'white trash' has been reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for her 'unacceptable professional conduct'. But the GTC's Professional Conduct Committee decided that, although it was a 'serious' matter, it was not necessary to suspend Jane Turner from the classroom.
Mrs Turner was working at Moseley School, a specialist language college in Birmingham, when she was convicted at Halesowen Magistrates' Court in October 2009 of using racially threatening words or behaviour likely to cause harassment or distress six months earlier outside a school 20 miles away.
She was made subject of a community order for one year with a requirement to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay compensation of £50.
The General Teaching council also investigated and announcing its decision said: 'On 22nd April 2009 Mrs Turner witnessed a dispute between a group of young people near school premises.
'Mrs Turner intervened in the dispute and in the heat of the moment was observed by a parent of one of the other children saying, "Go and play with your own little white friends, you're nothing but white trash".'
The findings continued: 'Mrs Turner accepts that making a comment like this amounts to unprofessional conduct. Mrs Turner accepts that her words on this occasion may have been perceived as racist and that it is entirely inappropriate for a registered teacher to make such a comment.
'The committee agrees. A registered teacher must demonstrate respect for diversity and promote equality. Conviction of an offence of this type brings the profession into disrepute.
'Although the offence was not committed in the vicinity of the school where Mrs Turner was teaching at that time, her behaviour set a very bad example for the schoolchildren who were present at the time.'
The committee said that it took into account that she was of previous good character and that, while she was not at first willing to accept what she had done, Mrs Turner had now said that she was 'genuinely sorry'.
It added that the police report referred to her being concerned for the wellbeing of a family member present at the time of the incident and also said that her head teacher had not found it necessary to take any further action within the school.
The findings said that in other circumstances a much more severe sanction would have been appropriate, but that having regard to all the mitigating circumstances of the case, the committee considered that the appropriate and proportionate response was a reprimand, which would remain on Mrs Turner's professional registration for two years.
Human rights laws cost Britain £42bn in rulings and payouts
Membership of the European Court of Human Rights has cost UK taxpayers more than £42billion, according to a report. The bill for complying with its judgments has seen money thrown at litigation and diverted from essential services, it is claimed.
The court, based in Strasbourg, France, has even forced Parliament to overturn a number of UK laws. It even made the government give prisoners the vote – despite strong opposition from ministers and the public.
The court rules on cases brought against countries that have signed the European Convention on Human Rights, a code drawn up in the light of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism.
The study into how much the convention and its court cost Britain, which became a signatory in 1950, was carried out by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
Dr Lee Rotherham, author of the report, said: ‘Fifty years on from the days of Stalin and Hitler, the Strasbourg court is no longer needed to protect us from a knock on the door at 3am, or being deported with a handcart. It carries an increasingly political agenda that is running roughshod over our laws and our courts, at major costs to the taxpayer and to business.
‘In the homeland of Magna Carta, you would hope that politicians and human rights lawyers might have more self confidence. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States get by very well without joining up to continental human rights courts. Britain can too.’
Controversial rulings include a transsexual serving time for manslaughter and attempted rape being allowed to move to a woman’s prison even though he committed the offences while a man. The court has also prevented the deportation of foreigners found guilty of serious offences.
The UK lost its first case at the court – which is independent from the EU – in 1975 and had to pay out its first damages in 1980. The report suggested that Britain has lost more than three quarters – 331 out of 418 – of cases heard in Strasbourg.
Labour’s Human Rights Act of 1998 was supposed to reduce the number of appeals to Europe by applying Strasbourg principles in British courts. The rate of lost cases has worsened however.
The cost of complying with judgments under the convention is £17.3billion to date, the report said. In addition, the growth of a compensation culture fostered by the court has added a further £25billion in costs.
Sian Herbert, of the think tank Open Europe, said: ‘The ECHR and the European Court of Justice [which rules on EU law] now act as a de facto supreme court in the UK in many ways. ‘While we need to remain a country committed to strong protection of basic liberties and rights, these two bodies lack the democratic and judicial legitimacy to fulfil this duty.’
Walter Williams' Memoir
Walter E. Williams is my oldest and closest friend. But I didn't know that his autobiography had just been published until a talk show host told me last week. I immediately got a copy of "Up from the Projects," started reading it before dinner and finished reading it before bedtime.
It is the kind of book that you hate to put down, even though I already knew how the story would end.
The first chapter, about Walter's life growing up in the Philadelphia ghetto, was especially fascinating. It brought back a whole different era in black communities-- an era that is now almost irretrievably lost, to the great disadvantage of today's generation growing up in the same neighborhoods where Walter grew up in Philadelphia or where I grew up in Harlem.
Although Walter's memoir is titled "Up from the Projects," the projects of the era when he was growing up bear virtually no resemblance to the projects of today.
For one thing, those projects were clean, and the people living in them helped keep them clean, by sweeping the halls and tending to the surrounding areas outside of the buildings as well. The people living in the projects then were probably poorer than the people living in the projects now. But they had not yet succumbed to the moral squalor afflicting such places today.
More important, they-- and the whole black community of which they were part-- were far safer than today. As late as 1958, when Walter was a young taxi driver in Philadelphia, he used to park his cab in the wee hours of the morning and take a nap in it. As he points out, "A cabbie doing the same thing today would be deemed suicidal."
There were jobs for black teenagers in those days, and Walter worked at a dizzying variety of those jobs. Most of those jobs are long gone today, as are the businesses that hired black teenagers.
While there are greater opportunities for many blacks today, there are far fewer opportunities for those blacks at the bottom, living in ghettos across the country and trapped in a counterproductive and even dangerous way of life.
The times in which Walter Williams grew up were by no means idyllic times, nor was Walter a model child nor always a model adult, as he candidly shows. He even reproduces the documents recording his court martial in the Army.
How Walter Williams changed for the better-- partly as a result of his wife, who "became a civilizing and humanizing influence in my life"-- is one of the themes of this book. The other great influence in Walter's life was his mother, one of those strong and wise black women who has had much to do with providing the foundation from which many other black men and women rose out of poverty to higher levels of achievement.
With Walter, that path was not a straight line but had many zigs and zags, and there were times when he was a disappointment to his mother. But, in the end, he vindicated all the efforts and hopes that she had invested in him.
There were also teachers, and then professors, who played a role in developing his mind-- especially hard-nosed teachers in Philadelphia who chewed him out when he messed up and UCLA professors who bluntly told him when his work wasn't good enough.
None of them was the kind of warm, chummy educators that so many hold up as an ideal. After Walter Williams earned his Ph.D. in economics and went on to become a professor himself, he was scathing in his criticism of fuzzy-minded faculty members who think they are doing students a favor by going easy on them or giving them higher grades than they deserve.
As he began to write about racial issues, Walter was able to draw not only on his research as an economist, but also on his personal experiences in the Philadelphia ghetto, in the Jim Crow South and in South Africa, where he lived for some months during the era of Apartheid.
Few others had so much to draw on, and many of them failed to understand that Walter Williams saw a lot deeper than they did. As a result, his conclusions made him a controversial figure.
When I finished reading "Up from the Projects," I wished it had been a longer book. But it got the job done-- and its insights are much needed today.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.