Wednesday 9 November 2011

Cameron's letter to Sepp Blatter

This just in - David Cameron's letter to FIFA chief (verbatim) over the poppy ban...

Dear Sepp

I know that you are aware of the importance of Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom, when we pay tribute those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in times of war.

We fully understand, and respect, FIFA’s rules on its member nations not adorning their shirts with ‘commercial’, ‘political’, or ‘religious’ symbols or messages. However, wearing a poppy is an almost universal symbol throughout the United Kingdom - people from all backgrounds and walks of life across the country join together in doing this as an act of national remembrance, to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country. I can assure you that there are no political connotations whatsoever to wearing a poppy.

You will have seen the letter to you on this issue from Hugh Robertson, the Minister of Sport and Olympics, yesterday. The mood of the House of Commons on this issue today was clear - and I believe this reflects a similarly unambiguous sentiment across the country.

I do hope that we will be able to find a sensible way through which allows British participants in this weekend's matches to commemorate those who have fallen in conflict.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Government justice plans in spotlight

Earlier in the House of Commons there were gasps of horror when an MP raised the case of a paedophile let out on day release by a secure mental health unit, who went on to try and rape a ten year old boy.

You can read the full story here. It concerned one Shaun Tudor who was being held at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Notts.

The unit is the UK’s largest not-for-profit mental healthcare charity providing secure services and care for 70 men with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders.

The MP asking about it was Sherwood’s Mark Spencer who used the case to question the Government’s plans to encourage more charities and private sector companies to start projects to rehabilitate criminals and then pay them according to the number who cease offending.

Crispin Blunt responded: “That case referred to a patient who was detained under the Mental Heath Act – when unescorted leave required both the approval of the secretary of state with a risk assessment and with a recommendation from a responsible clinician.

“There are no proposals for companies to be making these kinds of decisions.”

None the less the case does raise questions about giving the private sector and charities any sort of supervisory role over criminals – particularly given the background of companies like G4S.

Who says they're a soft touch on sentencing?

There was more than a titter when it emerged in the House of Commons just now that according to the Government’s proposals on abolishing indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPPs) someone will be in line for a mandatory life term if sentenced for using a nuclear weapon – the second time.

Presumably after the first offence the culprit will be given a probation officer and told to pick up litter in Victoria Gardens.

The issue emerged in a comment from the gnarled Scottish Labour MP Stephen McCabe during Justice Questions with Ken Clarke. McCabe went on: “Allowing for all the Lord Chancellor’s wisdom and guile wouldn’t it be an awful lot smarter to hold someone indefinitely the first time they committed that offence?”

IPPs were introduced in 2005 for a whole range of violent and sexual offences, but are now being abolished by the Government in favour of letting judges use their discretion.

Ken Clarke responded in as dry a voice as he could: “The Government takes a serious view of the use of nuclear weapons.”

On an aside – earlier in the session Labour justice spokesman Sadiq Kahn claimed the Chief Inspector of Prisons had taken a dim view of Government policy and thought “there should be a rocket put up this Justice Secretary’s backside”.

Hopefully the aforesaid inspector won’t be encouraged by the fact that if he makes it a nuclear one he might get away with it on the first strike.

Monday 7 November 2011

Where is Tory support for marriage?

I was just reading through some recent early day motions when I saw this one today backing the “Faithfulness Matters” campaign.

It’s basically saying that cheating on your husband/wife/partner is bad for society and therefore websites which help to arrange extra marital affairs should be shut down.

I’m probably a bit young and na├»ve in these things, but I was shocked to see just how many of the websites there are and how popular they seem to be.

The question is of course at what point does the state stop interfering in a citizen’s personal life? And if these people want to have affairs then it’s not against the law. And if it’s not against the law then it’s a business opportunity and so the market steps in and you have a fledgling industry.

Interesting to see that there are no Tories that have signed the EDM though, despite the fact that they are the traditional defenders of the family unit. Isn’t this something the PM, for all his talk of supporting the institution of marriage, would want to take a moral stand on?