Wednesday, 16 July 2014

New Prisons Minister

At long last it seems No10 has finally got around to persuading someone to accept the job of prisons minister. I can't think why, but apparently Jeremy Wright was asked to stay on, but refused! As this blog on the website makes clear, the prospects don't look too good in terms of his hapless replacement:-
Nearly 48 hours after the reshuffle started, Downing Street has finally named the prisons minister. Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, got the job. The rumours are that Jeremy Wright, who was made attorney-general, was originally asked to stay on but he refused. I've never rated Wright, but some estimable figures in penal reform think he's a decent enough man hamstrung by the inadequacies of his boss.
Then they offered the job to Shailesh Vara, the justice minister who recently led Ministry of Justice (MoJ) efforts to deny legal aid to anyone who'd been in the UK less than a year – a move the high court ruled unlawful yesterday. He turned it down. And apparently they don't trust Liberal Democrat justice minister Simon Hughes enough to do it. That's probably for good reason. Hughes is being lobbied to put some distance between himself and his Tory colleagues before the general election.
So they've settled on Selous, a man whose only contribution to public life is to have highlighted the inadequacy of his politics in the very sentence he used to express them. Back in June last year, the Tory MP decided to tell the world that he believed immigrants should not have access to benefits unless they show they're learning English. One is grateful the same rule was not applied to him, because he was unable to spell 'learn' correctly. To quote it in full:

"Strongly support the loss of benefits unless claimants lean English."
The tweet made him the butt of jokes on Twitter for the rest of the day. It was probably the most widely viewed tweet he ever wrote. He was rated the sixth worst MP on Twitter in our annual awards last year.
Selous doesn't seem to have any background on justice or prison issues. I searched his personal website for both terms and got nothing back on his brief, apart from one post where he celebrated Labybird's book donations for Fathers' Story Week, a Fatherhood Institute campaign which gets fathers to read to their kids. It aims to get fathers and children spending time together in "schools, children's centres, libraries and" – wait for it – "prisons".
Selous' commitment to prisoners getting an opportunity to read to their children will presumably mean that he opposes Chris Grayling's prisoner book ban. I wouldn't count on it though.
In parliamentary answers to shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan, Wright revealed that he either wilfully or due to incompetence knew very little about what's going on in prisons. Downing Street appears to have found the only man who knows less to replace him. Grayling will chalk that up as a victory.
Then we learn this from the Independent:-
A senior aide to Iain Duncan Smith was accused last night of threatening to “shut down” Britain’s main provider of food banks, in a bitter row over allegations of the “politicisation of poverty”.
Chris Mould, chair of the Trussell Trust, told The Independent that he had been warned during a private conversation that the “Government might try to shut you down” over its public campaigning on the plight of people unable to feed themselves or their families.
While Mr Mould would not reveal the identity of the person concerned, The Independent understands from sources that it was the Conservative MP Andrew Selous, parliamentary private secretary to Mr Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary. 
However last night Mr Selous strongly denied having been the individual concerned. “Your allegation is wholly false, I’ve never said that. And I actually helped set up a Trussell Trust food bank in my constituency. ”Details of the encounter, which allegedly took place in March last year, were given in evidence to the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector earlier this week.


  1. Why the long face Mr Selous?

  2. Because he needs to 'lean' about probation maybe?

  3. my letter to Mr Zealot is on it's way

  4. Might be worth asking him why he tried to ban foodbanks and claimed for a packet of Horliks on his expensive.

    The banana faced twat.

    1. By Christ, there's a forceps birth if I even seen one. He really is an ugly man.

    2. Oh this blog is degenerating - it did make me laugh out loud though.

    3. Well, I didn't laugh. Criticise the man for his politics but not for how he looks - that is just a cheap shot IMO.

    4. You are right of course Deb, but it would be hypocritical of me to pretend I didn't, especially in the present dire situation we find ourselves in. I'm reminded of the following:-

      “Politics is show business for ugly people” dates to at least 1991, when Texas political consultant Bill Miller used the phrase. Political consultant Paul Begala and comedian Jay Leno also used the phrase “politics is show business for ugly people,” but after Bill Miller’s 1991 use. Variants of the phrase (with “Washington/politics” and “Hollywood/show business” substitutions) include “Washington (DC) is show business for ugly people,” “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people,” and “Politics is Hollywood for ugly people.”

  5. God another weirdo - where do they get them from.

    1. Eton and the London School of Economics. A great grounding for understanding the needs of most Prisoners. However I have a feeling that iif Police continue their enquiries into MP's/sex scandals then he might just have a few 'friends' to see when he visits some Prisons!!!

  6. Well, certainly seems no change to current Gov agenda. Another useless appointment.

  7. On holiday but can't keep away from this blog. Thought this might help readers understand a bit more about this nice new chap:

    "Andrew was born in 1962 and married Harriet in 1993 and they have three girls. They live in the South West Bedfordshire constituency in Studham near to Whipsnade Zoo.

    Andrew is on the council of reference of South Bedfordshire Community Family Trust and is the President of the Leighton Buzzard branch of the Parkinson’s Disease Society and Patron of Leighton-Linslade Homeless Service, Patron of Homestart Central Bedfordshire and Leighton Buzzard Brain Tumour Action. He was a Territorial Army officer for twelve years and served in Germany, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States of America.

    Andrew qualified as a chartered insurer and worked as a reinsurance underwriter before being elected to Parliament. His firm helped many of the world’s poorest communities recover from natural disasters.

    Andrew supports local homeless charities by taking part in annual sponsored sleep-outs, most recently in the grounds of St Albans Abbey last December.

    Andrew Selous’ Experience:

    Elected to Parliament for South West Bedfordshire in 2001, he served on the Work and Pensions select committee for the whole of that Parliament. In 2003 he was appointed parliamentary private secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Ancram QC MP. In 2004 he was appointed an opposition whip and in 2006 he was appointed a shadow work and pensions minister. He has taken the Child Poverty Bill, the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill and the Health and Safety Offences Bill through the House of Commons. In 2010 he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

    He is also Chairman of APPG for Sustainable Relationships and Officer of the APPG for Fatherhood and Human Trafficking"

  8. This was big news in Beds in 2012

    "A petition is calling for two of Beds MPs to disassociate themselves from a Christian charity which co-sponsored a “gay cure” conference.
    Both Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, and Andrew Selous, who represents South West Bedfordshire, have previously received intern students from Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) under a scheme to help graduates get experience in Parliament.
    But this support - Mr Burt’s last intern finished in July 2010 - has been questioned by campaigner Phillip Dawson who has launched a petition.
    He’s urging 15 MPs to publicly pledge not to accept any more support from the charity which in 2009 co-sponsored a “gay cure” conference in London sparking a protest. The 33-yearold from Enfield said: “I’m in no way suggesting that these MPs endorse or condone the views of CARE or its co-sponsorship of a “gay cure” event. However I hope they will see this petition and make a public statement.” Eve Burt, Alistair’s wife and assistant - both are Christian - said she didn’t think he would be doing that adding: “There’s things about the Tory party I don’t agree with but sometimes it’s better to be a critical friend.
    "It’s politics with a small p and CARE does a lot of good things.
    "We don’t have an intern any more because it didn’t really work for our office.”
    Mr Selous, who last had an intern from the charity from September 2010 to July 2011, said he was “very proud” of his association with the group of which he has been a member for around 25 years.
    When asked about the conference Mr Selous said it was a “free country” adding: “I have met people who have been homosexual who are no longer.
    "I am wholly against any form of discrimination.”
    He praised the work of CARE in areas such as human trafficking, schools and people living in poverty.
    The conference sponsored by CARE and Anglican Mainstream was billed as a Judaeo-Christian conference for all and was entitled ‘Redeeming sex today’ ideal for ‘clergy, rabbis, psychologists, therapists, educators and others concerned about the plethora of sexual issues’.
    CARE said it had no comment."

  9. Selous speaking in 2013 during the 'gay marriage' debate:

    "In his landmark speech in December 2011 at Christ Church, Oxford, the Prime Minister said that the United Kingdom was a “Christian country”. Those were his words and I was pleased to hear him say them. What we are doing this afternoon should give us pause for thought, because we will be realigning the laws of this country in a way that is different from what Christian doctrine teaches. We should take note of what the newly installed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said yesterday, and of what the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Alliance, the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, and many others, are saying.

    Let me quote two verses from the New Testament from when Jesus was talking about marriage. He said that

    “at the beginning the Creator made them male and female…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

    That was Jesus’s definition of marriage in Matthew chapter 19.

    I absolutely recognise that homosexual people want to celebrate their relationships, and that is what civil partnerships are for. All the rights and privileges of marriage are vested in civil partnerships. If civil partnerships are not sufficient, we should create a new term—call it a civil union, a lifelong union. Churches are now able to bless civil partnerships if they are willing to do so, and we have the opportunity to provide the celebration that homosexual people are looking for without changing a foundational institution of our country."

  10. Mr Selous said it was a “free country” adding: “I have met people who have been homosexual who are no longer."


    1. Perhaps he means they died?

  11. I'm confused. We're told -

    "Andrew was born in 1962 and married Harriet in 1993 and they have three girls. They live in the South West Bedfordshire constituency in Studham near to Whipsnade Zoo."

    Yet parliamentary records show -

    "Andrew Selous designates constituency property as second home, on
    which he claims monthly mortgage interest payments of more than £1,600"

    Where is his first home?

  12. Aha, I hope this is not turning out to be a scandal. We couldn't have a justice minister being seen to fiddling expenses can we.

    1. Of course it's perfectly okay for hard working tax payers to be subsiding the lifestyle of those lazy, feckless undeserving privileged few.

    2. That reads like a technicality to me - I suspect some aspects of MPs financial support are over regulated leaving little scope for fiddling in such an obvious way.

      The basic problem, is that like many other public service workers, salaries have not been comprehensively reviewed and matched to non public service jobs of similar demands - certainly since I started in 1973 - for example; apparently little before that a probation officer's salary had been the equivalent to a police inspector's (or at least that was being said in pay arguments back then).

      Since about 1992 the status of probation officers has been much diminished and even the "job description" significantly changed as there has been more centralised management.

  13. Just South of Manchester it seems to all be going well - with this in a Tweet: -

    " DLNR CRC Probation ‏@DLNR_CRC_Prob 5m

    DLNR #CRC are piloting 'choice of office' scheme, aiming to maximise benefits of new regional structure for #probation service users "

    DLNR = Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland.

    Maybe someone on the inside will tell us more - hopefully they are linking up well with the NPS folk there as well??

    The background story on this gem from July 14 is that the Chief paper carriers are shunting folk into rooms not big enough for the "New Teams" to work in ... Trying to look efficient, but without a clue. The only thing missing in each room is the hamster wheel.
    As an avid blog reader, I would like to Thank Jim for going above and beyond !!!
    Chris Gurning.