Saturday, December 30, 2006

does labour live in a bubble?

we have all heard the phrase 'new labour, old tory' but now it seems we have 'scottish labour follows where scottish tories lead' after the first minister of the scottish executive jacky mcconnell (labour) has just announced he will do as the scottish tories have been demanding for a while - an end to automatic prisoner release, or did he..?

in his new year message mcconnell said the following:

We will end the system that allows prisoners to be automatically released without any conditions being attached.

but he wasn't saying that in november when pressed by the leader of the conservatives in the scottish parliament, annabel goldie. in three different exchanges in the parliament, at first minister's questions (fmqs), annabel attacked mcconnell on the issue. here is the exchange from the 16 november.

Miss Goldie: Yesterday, Craig Nimmo was convicted of the culpable homicide of Bryan Drummond, an innocent man who, like so many others, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nimmo was originally charged with murder but pled guilty on a reduced plea and was sentenced to nine years. Can the First Minister tell me when he expects Mr Nimmo to be walking our streets again?

The First Minister: That will be a matter for the Scottish Prison Service.

Miss Goldie: It will be a matter for the Prison Service working under the law that the First Minister and his Executive have persisted in maintaining. The First Minister may pretend that he is abolishing early release, but he is merely replacing the existing system of early release with a new system of early release. Nobody is fooled.

The First Minister: I say again this week that what Annabel Goldie claims is simply not true...

Miss Goldie: I would have thought that the First Minister would be conversant with his Executive's bill, which redefines "sentence". Under the bill, with the exception of life sentences, a "sentence" will become a mixture—a mongrel—that is partly served in jail and partly served in the community. The difficulty for the First Minister is that he has to accept that that is a radical departure from traditional custodial sentencing in Scotland. I suspect that other victims' families would not be impressed by his answer. Let us consider Frances Getgood, who was stabbed by her husband 10 times while he was out on early release from a sentence for a previous attack on her. Last week, he was sentenced to five years and four months.

you can read the whole transcript on the parliament's website by clicking here. so will mcconnell actually be scrapping early release or will he be redefining the word sentence? when prisoners are released before serving their full term - but have served their newly defined 'sentence' - what would mcconnell like us to call it?

but then mcconnell does appear to be having a problem with reality. here is part of the following week's fmqs:

Miss Goldie: ...In his five years, the figure for total crime and offences has gone up. Crimes of indecency are up, rape and attempted rape are up, and fire raising and vandalism are up. Handling of offensive weapons is up and the number of persons recalled to prison from licence is up by almost 100 per cent. That is what the Executive's own statistics show. Is that really a record to be proud of?

The First Minister: That is simply not true. The reality about crime in Scotland today is that 20,000 fewer crimes were recorded by the police last year. Housebreaking has fallen for seven successive years. There were 1,000 fewer victims of serious violent crime last year and violent crime is at its lowest level since before devolution. The number of homicides fell by almost 30 per cent last year...

if you click on this link you can watch a bbc video, released on the 24 dec 06, about a leaked government document that shows crime has gone up for the first time in twelve years! or you could click on this link to read a bbc report on crime rise. or you could click here to read the telegraph newspaper report on the rise in crime. or perhaps you would prefer to read the scotsman who also report on the rise in crime.

all around him crime is rising and prisoners are being released early - any link? mcconnell is living in a bubble.

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