Friday, 28 June 2013

Vested Interests

George or is it Geoffrey Osborne irritates me at the best of times, but on Tuesday at the end of his speech announcing further government spending cuts, he excelled himself by dismissing all those resisting reforms as merely "vested interests". That's quite rich coming as it does from a representative of a group who vote on their own terms and conditions. 

But aren't these 'vested interests' the very same skilled and professional staff required to make sure that 'Transforming Rehabilitation' actually has any chance of working? The leaked MoJ Risk Register highlighted that one of the biggest risks the whole daft idea faced was a disillusioned and unco-operative workforce that now has to contemplate the loss of annual salary increments. These may be denigrated by the Chancellor, but how does he think key experienced staff can be retained on the front line without some recognition of their expertise?

During the speech I was pleased when the camera caught a glimpse of a very glum-looking Chris Grayling, no doubt contemplating the success he's had in thoroughly stirring up the 'vested interests' throughout the entire criminal justice system. The fruits of his endeavours are beginning to show with a spirited Commons debate on the legal aid reforms yesterday and an emergency session of the Justice Affairs Select Committee scheduled for next Tuesday. I notice Ian Lawrence the new Napo General Secretary is among those called to give evidence. 

Just as an aside, it's interesting to note that one Chris Grayling voted against the Labour government's 2007 Offender Management Bill at its third reading - the very legislation he is now using to dismantle the Probation Service. There's absolutely no principle or honour in much of politics and it should serve to confirm that winning the argument is all that matters, by what ever lawful means it takes.

It looks like the right wing press are beginning to get to grips with the likely consequences of 'Transforming Rehabilitation' as revealed in the official impact assessments - an extra 13,000 people going to prison each year. As quoted in the Daily Telegraph article, the minister Jeremy Wright commented:- 

"We expect a short-term rise in the population as a result of these tougher and longer restrictions on offenders and we have enough prison places to effectively deal with this for the longer term goal of cutting re-offending."  

These plans are supposed to save money of course, and reduce reoffending, but it's interesting to note that only yesterday the Treasury First Secretary Danny Alexander announced a new £100 million super-prison for 2,000 inmates to be built in Wrexham North Wales as part of the economic stimulation package for the UK economy. Apparently they are 'delighted' in Wales to have secured this investment, in stiff competition with North West England :-

"Going back to when I was leader of Wrexham Council, I have argued that there is a strong case for a new prison to be located in North Wales. Such a facility will certainly bring considerable economic benefits to our region and could lead to the creation of over a thousand jobs. This investment will provide a significant economic boost in our region. 

When I spoke to the Ministry of Justice and Danny Alexander, it was clear that they were impressed by the business case put forward in favour of North Wales. I, alongside my Welsh Liberal Democrat colleagues, have been working tirelessly with Liberal Democrat Ministers in London to ensure a prison in North Wales would become a reality. Many across North Wales, including the six local authorities, have worked together on this bid and it shows what can be done when we work as a team."   

Well that's certainly a ringing endorsement for more prisons! Lots of vested interest in keeping them filled by the sound of it too. I think I need a lie down.  

The No10 petition has topped 23,000 and is still available to sign here.    


  1. Osbourne likes to sneer. He has a throwback quality, he would have fitted well into a Dickensian narrative. His latest turn of the screw for the unemployed produced this soundbite: “Those first few days should be spent looking for work not looking to sign on”. Osbourne was born into money, went to Eton and an elite university. He would have no sense of the fear and uncertainty that losing a job can bring. His soundbite oozes contempt. The majority of households have little disposable income and and little by way of savings to get them through hard times. But Osbourne still twists the knife.

  2. Osbourne is a really contemptable individual indeed. But when I look at either front bench I just see smug over privaliged young yuppies.
    I think its time that polititions returned to looks of old like Wilson Callaghan and Benn, with those lived in faces that made you almost believe they did things for national interest and social good, and not personal success, financial gain and celebrity status. Yuppies.... All of them.

    1. Osbourne has stated loudly and very publically that he harbours signifigant resentment towards a welfare state. As such I suggest his decision making and smug remarks are not objective but born from personal agenda.
      Nothing for nothing he says. Well George pay your train fare, stop nicking disabled car parking spaces, and most of all please stop taking the piss.

  3. As well as mentioning 'vested interests' Osborne also said he wouldn't listen to those who caused the deficit in the fist place - since its MPs who approved lax banking regulation and government spending plans, that would be MPs wouldn't it?

  4. It' s actually Gideon Oliver Osborne, but the rest is right! Over privaliged, contemptable and its worth having a dig about on google to see some of his more unsavoury actions. Not just dodging parking fees and rail fares, but did you really use a loop hole to avoid paying £55,000 in capital gains tax when 'flipping' your property sale?
    I struggle with the brass neck of all this. When people released from prison under supervision have huge difficulty finding accommodation. And if their lucky enough to find a private landlord to take them on, they can no longer get community care grants for furniture. Most will have to pay a top up on their rent from the£70 a week they get, council tax contribution, utillity bills and water rates. Many have historical loans that are stopped at source from benifits and of course maybe they'll want something to eat too.
    The extra time to wait to make a claim Gideon has just announced will not have much impact on reducing reoffending rates methinks.

    1. Well I didn't know that! The Wikipedia entry is extremely illuminating and judging by the comments here, his fan club is likely to be quite a small, select affair.

    2. Graylings also been at it as you probably already know. But you could look at his expence claims on line if you've a mind to. Nice flat chris, surely paid for by results.