Veteran Tory politician Ken Clarke was sidelined in this week’s cabinet reshuffle, leaving his post as justice secretary.
The move marks a sad day for the criminal justice system in England and Wales. Clarke proved one of the most intelligent justice or crime ministers in a generation. He challenged the Daily Mail view that throwing people into prison was the best way to protect society. He was prepared to take a fresh look at criminal justice and the role of restorative justice. Clarke wasn’t always right – his comments about rape were ill-judged – but his heart was in the right place.
We need to get away from the idea that prison is the answer to everything. Why does the UK – or at least England and Wales – lock up more people than almost every other democratic country? How can we rehabilitate criminals while protecting the public? The Daily Mail doesn’t care – but politicians should. Ken should be a role model for future justice chiefs, not a false dawn.
Very true. Is it “Goodbye Ken, or just au revoir. No it’s goodbye.” as ran the famous line from a radio / tv satire show the name of which escapes me. With a few exceptions we have motley, coalition crew of career politicians with little or no experience of the hard facts of life; business, commercial or professional to use for all our benefit. There are no great academics or MPs who can be relied on for original thought. Where will it end. When Ken goes it’s not just politics that is the loser. We have also lost the voice of “Hush Puppies” and quality jazz in public life.
Trevor – a belated thank you for your wise words. I agree with every word, including the Hush Puppies!