Prison doesn’t work – but nor is it just for the working class

When Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce were sentenced to imprisonment the other day, shockwaves ricocheted through the media establishment. Steve Richards, a political writer at the Independent, was on the frontline of reaction, describing the sentences as “crazy”.

Within days, we were hearing sob stories about the pains of fame when banged up at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. “They wake up not just having a sentence to serve in prison,” said Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, “but as the best-known prisoners in the place and having to go through all that – the difficulty of catcalls and the like.” Continue reading

Did the Sunday Times want to damage Huhne (& Pryce)?

Chris Huhne & Vicky Pryce would not be in prison today if the Sunday Times had not handed over information to the Police from a confidential source. Nick Cohen in an excellent piece at the Spectator rightly blames Isabel Oakeshott, its political editor, for breaking journalists’ first law and, he adds, their one moral principle to never betray a source, claiming that Vicky Pryce “had double-crossed me…. revealing all to a rival newspaper“. Continue reading

Eight reasons why things can only get better in Eastleigh

As the self-nominated applicants to be Labour’s candidate in Eastleigh prepare to be interviewed by Labour’s shortlisting panel, John O’Farrell, author of Things Can Only Get Better and script-writer on such tremendous TV political comedy as Spitting Image and Have I Got News for You, seems to be the favourite. Since we need a candidate who can make an immediate impact in a very short campaign, we could do much worse. He’s clearly a principled candidate and no careerist. But whoever is the candidate, things can only get better if Labour gives everything it has to this campaign. Labour doesn’t even have to win to make significant progress, but for the Tories and Lib Dems, winning isn’t necessarily enough. And these are eight reasons why we can do well: Continue reading

Labour should be trashing the Lib Dem record in Eastleigh

Last time Nigel Farage stood in Eastleigh at a by-election, he languished on 1.7%, with only 169 votes more than Screaming Lord Sutch. That is surely little enough to persuade him not to have another go (though if he does, it will damage the Tories most). Labour, on the other hand came second to the Lib Dems with 27.6%, enough to make it worth putting serious effort into the contest this time.

Now that by-election was in 1994 in the wake of the tragic death of Stephen Milligan in what police described as an “autoerotic asphyxiation accident“. Involving suspenders, stockings, an electric flex and an orange, it helped John Major’s “Back to Basics” to its ignominious end and was a source of much Tory embarrassment in the by-election campaign,, when it was already trailing in the polls. Continue reading

Energy and climate change policy run by the energy companies?

One of the unnoticed offsets from the Huhne resignation is that the grip on the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) held by the Big Six energy companies may intensify in the hiatus created before a new minister is sufficiently in harness to take effective charge. Already, even under the firm control of a strong minister like Huhne, the official declaration of ministerial meetings shows that in the 18 months since the election there have been no less than 195 meetings between DECC ministers and the energy industry. Continue reading