Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Aitken's Testimony on Prison Bears Stamp of Authority

Jonathon Aitken is not someone who commands a great deal of sympathy, let alone respect on the left. He was involved in arms dealing, sued our beloved Guardian and then used his daughter in a perjurious attempt to clear his name. He went down, did his time, came out, found God not to mention another wife and yesterday gave evidence to a Select committee on the efficacy of prison.

He was disarmingly frank in the Radio 4 parliamentary report I have just heard. He explained how his Eton and Oxford education proved useful to his fellow innmates- many of whom he befriended and one or two of whom he even invited to his wedding- by drafting letters for them to send to loved ones on the outside. He recalled that, as a young Tory MP, he used to parrot the rightwing tropes like 'lock 'em up and throw away the key' and 'life should mean life'. Such an approach he now sees as total rubbish. Prison makes only a minimal attempt, he testified, to rehabilitate those whose lives have taken a seriously wrong turn and should be reformed from the top to the bottom.

It seems perhaps ironic that it takes a spell in chokey for a Conservative to realise the emptiness of their attitudes and policies on social policy but one is enthused to suggest that all of his erstwhile colleagues, presently serving in the Commons, should also be consigned to Her Majesty's prison accommodation for six months to improve their education on how life is led by those at the wrong end of society's social spectrum.

I think a little longer than six months may be required. But for me a good many Labour MPs could do with some time as well e.g. Mr J. Straw.
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