Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Election Fever

It's been a while since I've had anything worthwhile to say. In lieu of something worthwhile to say, let's talk politics.

Traditionally, historically, it's been along the lines of "Vote Tory, Vote Hanging", with other parties taking a more liberal stance.

Since Blair, however, the rules have changed. "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime"? Labour. "Hug a Hoody"? Tories.

Blair and his motley crew, despite most of them being qualified lawyers, have succeeded in thoroughly shafting the criminal justice system. I don't say that lightly. Legal aid is dying on its arse from a thousand cuts. The courts are bursting, prisons likewise. The government announces a new crack-down every day, without providing the funds for these people to be represented or held in custody if they're convicted and sentenced in that way.

Worse, the only disposals with a realistic chance of reform, like drug or drink treatment orders, are even less well funded.

To top it all off, they've used the spectre of MUSLIMS COMING TO KILL US IN OUR SLEEP to pass a whole raft of thoroughly illiberal and unnecessary laws. They have created literally thousands of criminal offences. They've armed under-qualified officers with lethal tazers, they've introduced PCSOs (two whole weeks training!), they've allowed disgraceful policing of peaceful protests (kettling, etc.), and they've presided over the introduction of the targets culture.

And don't even get me started on the illegal wars.

The question is, though, would anyone else do better? I won't waste anyone's time going through policies, because as fine upstanding citizens, you should all be doing that in the process of deciding how to cast your respective votes.

The reality is, Labour didn't put any money aside during the good years, and now the lean years are here (hastened, in no small part, by their 'light touch' regulation of the financial markets), there's nothing in the storehouse. So whoever takes power on May 6, it's a bit of a poisoned chalice -- cuts aplenty lie ahead for all of us, and especially those of us in the public sector.

So, to those who have a vote -- consider your options carefully, but know this -- it's a bumpy ride ahead.

To those who are part of the criminal justice system, in any capacity whatsoever, and earn their living from it -- God speed and good luck -- you're going to need it.


  1. Hmmm. I had my MP around here the other day trawling for votes. She's one of the good ones - doesn't take the piss on expenses and works hard, responds to letters etc.

    I would love to vote for her - but a vote for her is a vote for labour.

    I don't blame labour for the financial meltdown, and for all I know their "solution" has worked (at least partially). But I don't like debt. I have a small mortgage (its always been small - as I had a the fortune to have a largeish deposit) but labour have failed (it seems to me) to exercise any financial sense at all. When I am making money I always put some aside for a rainy day.

    I even told the MP that I would happily vote for her - if she wasn't labour.

    Now which particular cheating lieing thief I will vote for is another matter as they all seem very similar to me - but it won't, it can't be labour.

    As for policies - I don't know what others here think, but they look to me like a series of attempted bribes (even more so than usual) whilst ignoring the real problem. The next few years are really going to hurt, a lot. I'll definitely vote for the party that tells the truth - but there no real danger of that is there.

  2. Great to hear from you again!

  3. Its a very depressing picture. Lying bastards running the country and incompetents lining up to take over.
    Yes, your right the credit crunch isn't really the fault of the government as it happened everywhere across the world, though they should have had an eye on the regulation.
    but as Kennedy said of Nixon " would you buy a used car from this man" I don't think so- so G Brown seems to me donald ducked.

    Maybe its time to give the Liberals a chance to a t least try to make a difference because unless or until or political system is changed the shysters who have been running the show will get back in by default.

  4. Good to see that you're back. I feared that you had been defenestrated.

  5. Jesus H Christ, you dont half write some crap.....

  6. And presided over the Criminal Protection Service, the discerning criminals friend.

    "Plea bargain to a lower offence, and a lesser sentence, so that we hit our targets? That'll do nicely sir...."

  7. Anonymouses (Anonymice?) -- Thanks for your comments. As for the Anonymous who thinks I write crap...what, pray tell, are you doing reading this at all? If you're interested in reasoned debate, feel free to point out which parts you think are crap, and I'll point out why you're wrong. That work for you?

    Belligerent cop -- Yes, targets for everyone, unfortunately. If I wanted to begin a criminal career anywhere in Europe I'd choose central London. The numbers are stacked in your favour, and even if you do get pinched, you have a decent chance of getting off / someone losing your file. Far too many of my colleagues have no stomach for a fight. This also comes back to the legal aid system -- to make decent money, cracking trials at the door of court is just about the only way. And that means pleas.

  8. If you cast your mind back to when Labour( of should I say New Labour as they are not really Labour) was first elected Mr Blair gave a speech on the South Bank on the Friday morning to the Tune - Things can only get better' and when on to say ' He would not let us down'. Well, I don't things are that much better and I'm sure we have been let down. JohnMajor was a decent chap and his government wasn't as corrupt as was made out and he bit the dust. I've got a feeling that Mr Brown is on the same journey. There is nothing truer than all political careers end in failure and we are seeing this happen in front of our eyes.
    Up the revolution!

  9. Well - The conservatives have just got my vote. I am sure it will be watered down - but it seems that they are planning on repealing a bunch of new labour laws. Seems like a damned good idea to me

  10. To Beligerent Cop,

    If you guys were able to do your job, as in gather some evidence instead of having to be stuck behind a desk filling out form MG10000, then I think the Judicial System would stand a better chance in respect of Justice.

  11. Yes the whole system needs an enema- and it needs administering quickly as the constipation we have been suffering is quite painful these days!! :-)

  12. "...They've armed under-qualified officers with lethal tazers, they've introduced PCSOs (two whole weeks training!), they've allowed disgraceful policing of peaceful protests (kettling, etc.)..."

    I'm a different anon from the one above but your 'facts' in the above paragraph are in correct. Tazer is not issued to under-qualified officers and it is not 'lethal'. In fact in most countries you can buy it over the counter and it is regularly deployed without any serious injury. The injuries linked to it are about people falling onto something and are significantly less than other tactical options available.

    PCSOs - whilst I don't like the role - get 6 weeks training then a 2 week follow up course. They are then on probation and on the job training for a year.

    Kettling is not deployed on peaceful protests and the policing of those demonstrations is the envy of forces the world over. It is intelligence led and has stood up to extensive judicial scrutiny. Tactics in this and every other area are under constant review.

    That said the attacks on our civil liberties must cease as must the writing of endless knee jerk laws just so those in charge can be seen to be doing something, rather than actually doing something.

    Please keep up this most excellent blog. I find the views from this otherwise invisible sector truly interesting.

  13. Different Anon -- thanks for your comments. I consider police officers who are not trained firearm officers to be underqualified for the handling of lethal weaponry such as tasers. The brass disagree with me. As for their lethality, googling "taser death toronto airport", and you will be able to watch a video of a man dying having been tasered. I couldn't watch it, and read the description on The Register, a popular website.

    They encourage lazy policing. "Why bother talking to someone if you can just zap the fucker?" is a genuine query heard in my local canteen. The dangers of such weapons are clear.

    PCSOs -- oh, six whole weeks, you say? That's OK then.

    Kettling -- I will happily say that I think the ECHR, in all its wisdom, got this one wrong. The manifest lack of common sense displayed in the application of the tactic is ridiculous (diabetic old man kept in the kettle at Oxford Circus until he actually collapsed). Policing of these protests might be the envy of forces the world over, but free protest, such as that enjoyed in France, is the envy of citizens up and down this country. Flip side of the coin, as the Septics would say.

    The so-called 'bonfire of laws' the Tories keep crowing about is long overdue.

  14. No one has been honest about the level of public cuts that will be made once the election is over, except perhaps the Greens who support a Keynsian approach of investment.

    From the viewpoint of the justice system, cuts will means fewer prosecutors, and therefore fewer courts and longer waits for trials and repeated adjournments due to lack of court time. The Magistrates Courts will be particularly badly hit. Wonder what the Daily Mail will make of that.

  15. Cuts - there are going to be a load of them;

    PCSO's- good idea thought out badly- looks like a cop, dresses like a cop- isn't a cop, one hell of a confusion;

    I'd rather be taser'd than shot; or battered with a batton.

    At the end of the day its all about balance, the problem is the whole system is out of balance.

    Anyhow, that lovely man Farrage crashed in his plane. As someone said in the press the other day he's the sort of chap you take an instant dislike too as it saves time!
    I hope he's ok!!

  16. Election result- we are all Fucked!

  17. Whilst I defer to the Anonymous Prosecutor's knowledge of what's wrong with the CPS I can't help but think that there is more to blame for the legal aid 'crisis' than politicians creating new laws.
    In the past week I have seen a defending barrister convince their client not to plead at a PCMH despite overwhelming evidence (the defendant's co-d's entered their pleas on the same evidence at the hearing), following the hearing the barrister as good as admitted that this course of action was in order to boost their page count with further evidence that was still coming in.
    Earlier that week I turned up on the first day of a crown court trial dragging along civilian witnesses, officers who had since left the job, and forensic experts only to have the defendant offer a plea, not an unusual state of affairs and the evidence against him was strong. I was only surprised a plea hadn't been offered at any of the earlier hearings. Apparently though one had, several months earlier, but prosecuting counsel had decided not to seek CPS or the OIC's advice on this until further copies of evidential material had added to their page count and a trial had started.
    Two cases which could have been dealt with without wasting the witnesses time, the court's time, the CPS's time and time I could have spent on other cases (my time's not wasted I get paid whatever I do - even for sitting on my thumbs at court, seem to me to have been spun out purely for barristers to milk the legal aid cow dry
    It could be that these incidents are isolated and my cynicism is unwarranted, it would be nice to think so.

  18. In 1999 the Government undertook the Carter review in respect of legal aid rates. The fair rate was discussed and then set as recommended by Lord Carter. Since then, those of us at the Bar who depend on legal aid work (the vast majority in crime, of course) have not even had an inflation linked pay rise in 11 years. That has hurt many people.

    Worse, the Government is now going back on its word (what a surprise) and cutting the very rates it agreed were fair in 1999! You can, I hope, see why some people feel a bit pissed off.

    I should point out that I have never once come across a member of the Bar acting contrary to the interests of a client. The riposte that it is contrary to the interests of justice to maximise your income is not a fair criticism – without sufficient income, standards will fall. I've posted widely about this in the early days, and the failed US experiment with such rates of pay. The inevitable result is injustice.

  19. I think you'll find that as the last parliament was on its last legs the government put through an order lopping 15% of legal aid rates.
    Your right there are unscrupulous barristers and solicitors milking the system and thats been going on for years.I'm not sure what can be done unless we have a very strict fixed fees.
    The wider question is too much work going to the crown court- I wonder if any of the new lot will have the balls to deal with it?