Thursday, 19 May 2011

Bashing Ken Clarke exposes Ed Miliband's flaws

You know the Labour Party is in trouble when it gets an endorsement from Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing The Sun newspaper as happened today.
“Labour is now tougher on crime than our Tory-led Government” thundered its leader column in support of its hysterical front page headline: “Clarke’s a danger to women…he must go”
The Clarke in question is the veteran MP, Justice minister Ken Clarke. On Wednesday he tied himself in knots on BBC radio attempting to apply his policy of “softer” sentencing to rape cases. The result was in trying to justify not all rapes are the same, he left himself open to the accusation he believed some were not serious.
In the furore that followed Clarke was obliged to apologise for any confusion he had caused and to clarify he hadn’t lost sight of the gravity of the offence. In an ill-advised moved Ed Miliband, the Labour party leader, called for Clarke’s sacking.
The prime minister David Cameron would love to be shot of Clarke and the rape gaffe might have been the occasion – but he couldn’t be seen yielding to pressure from the Opposition. So Miliband lost an opportunity to exploit fractures in the Cabinet.
And why is Clarke in such bad odour with his own party and The Sun? He is applying research-based measures to try and ease the pressure in our overcrowded prisons. This doesn't play well with voters or readers of the red-top.
I’m not a softie on prison sentencing – if a criminal is locked up, he’s not free to offend. But there’s no money to build more prisons.
So Clarke’s reforms – which Labour should be supporting rather than undermining - have to be given a try.
Bashing Ken Clarke has led Miliband to take the untenable position that “rape is rape” although sentencing policy, established when his government was in office, recognises that all cases are not the same.
We can only speculate whether brother David would have made a better fist of the job of shadow PM had the unions backed him and not Ed.
As it is despite the Coalition’s slash and burn policies Cameron’s standing in the opinion polls is holding up and the Tories did well at the recent elections across Britain.
More than a year on from the General Election the British public hasn’t clue in which direction the Labour party is headed. As with the attack on Clarke, it’s not enough to trash the man – what would they do about criminal justice given the chance?

1 comment:

  1. A well argued point of view, GC, providing much food for thought in respect of a number of issues. Amidst the hysteria, you have kept your eye on the ball. We need original ideas and solutions regarding what to do with convicted criminals, when our prisons are currently full up.[Jaffa].


What do you think? GC