Thursday, September 28, 2006
I hope that John Reid does not become our next prime minister. Not too long ago he drew up a criminal justice package that would have made Michael Howard blanche, aiming to further fill an already overcrowed prison service. Here is an example reported today of the state of one of our prisons. While most evidence goes to suggest that prison is not very effective in reducing crime, and that short term sentences do not stop people reoffending (rather the opposite) politicians cannot let go of this right wing and populist 'tough on crime' agenda. It neither addresses the roots of crime nor looks at ways and means (i.e training, education, rehabilitation) to help those convicted break the cycle.
Rather than being a politician of guts he serves the agenda of the tabloid press. His proposal this summer to import the unworkable Megan's law into Britain is another example. Neither is he known for diplomacy towards the Muslim community either. The government's failure to recognise or be able to state the obvious (namely that foreign policy does play a part in the growth of terrorism) leads them down all these blind allies and are bound not to endear them to their audience.
The left's favoured candidate, John Mcdonnell, seems an honest and principled politician. Maybe too much so, alas. The chances of him winning are close to zero and most of his supporters probably know this. The only hope there is in the campaign is a possible resurgence of the Labour Left. The only hope for a more favourable government may be with Michael Meacher if he decides to stand, and perhaps even there the chances may be slight. But we certainly don't want to see a straightforward handover to Brown, so at least let there be a contest.