The No. 10 spin machine has overruled Kenneth Clarke on penal issues, and a raft of measures has just been floated for reasons that are blatantly political.
As it happens I had lunch with two good magistrate friends today; between us we have something like 80 years' experience on the bench. We had no trouble agreeing that today's measures were largely presentational, and will make little real difference at magistrates' court level and not much at any level. The IPP (way above our pay grade) might have been a good idea, but the resources to make it work were never provided. The stuff about youths and knives will apply to only a few defendants, but might keep the Mail happy.("some hopes" I hear you cry). The stuff about householders being able to kill intruders will be of scant comfort to my 82 year old neighbour, and only confirms the present de facto situation anyway. Tabloid crowing over this might lead a few of the nasty tendency who inhabit our grottier estates to ensure that they are tooled up ready for the next burglar - unfortunately this sometimes turns out to be the paper boy or some other innocent passer-by.
The spirit of the Blair sofa lives on.
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