Wonk Watch: Policy Exchanged

Given the ongoing battle between Ken Clarke, with the help of Crispin Blunt, and the Downing Street media operation over reducing prison sentences, Guido was particularly amused to see the make-up of this Policy Exchange event at Tory conference:

So along with a chairman, there are three speakers in a row who want to cut the prison population and no one who thinks this a bad idea. Don’t tell Andy…

But is everyone at Policy Exchange signed up to the chosen viewpoint? Why isn’t their Head of Crime and Justice, Blair Gibbs, on the panel? At the other events, the PX speaker is the person responsible for that policy area, not Neil O’Brien. Could it be that Gibbs might not be in agreement with the rest of the carefully selected guests. What does the Head of Crime and Justice have to say on the matter?

Well when he was at Reform he certainly made his views known:

“An ideology hostile to prison has taken root, progressively warping successive Government’s response to rising crime, and in its complacency, directly contributing to it… on all levels – deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation … prison cuts crime. The reason this argument is rarely heard, and certainly not from the prison reform lobby, is because the “experts” regard a rising prison population as a sign of society’s failure and so can rarely find a good thing to say about it.

The result of this anti-prison mentality and increased use of non-custodial sentences has been thirty years of rising crime and failed responses.

…we run great risks if we think, despite all the evidence, that we can have a low prison population, while we still have a high crime rate, and not expect public safety to be jeopardised… Much evidence suggests that when it is allowed to, prison works, and with expansion and more investment in Britain it can be made to work better. What doesn’t work, is a criminal justice system that attempts to replace prison with other forms of community punishment, solely on the back of ideological motives or misplaced sentimentalism.”

You can hear the wonks wincing already. How fortunate for the Prison Reform Trust who are sponsoring, sorry “partnering”, the event, that Dave’s favourite think-tank is willing to gag its experts.

CCHQ Spread the Love

Well here’s a unique solution to the growing rift between the Tory-right and the Cleggaroons. While it may be love at the top of the party, clearly this is not the case among the rank and file. Guido was just taking time to sort out his conference passes, (jury still out on whether to go to Labour’s,) when he was asked for his advice on how to make the Tory conference better:

Other than stop holding it in Birmingham and install more bars this year, he couldn’t really care, but the helpful suggestion of speed dating could not go without comment. Tory speed dating… Imagine the horror.

It was oft said that the old Young Conservatives was a marriage bureau, but have things really got so bad that the Party is considering officially organised bonding sessions? Membership is declining and unity might become an issue at the conference, but surely this is not the answer…

Hughes’s Ego Explodes

Simon Hughes must be getting dizzy up in the glorious heights of his plush sixth floor Portcullis House office. He has taken it upon himself to tell the Prime Minister that he does not speak for his own government:

“Council tenancy agreements have not been discussed by the coalition, and any idea or proposal floated so far is nothing more than that – an idea or a proposal and not a policy. So the ideas put forward by David Cameron this week in no way represent the policy of the coalition and certainly do not represent the policy of Liberal Democrats.”

First it was Clegg speaking in a personal capacity at PMQs, and now apparently the deputy leader of the junior coalition partner can tell the PM that his policy will not be adopted. In a pompous statement, Hughes has very much planted his tanks on the Downing Street lawn.

It takes some arrogance to say;It is a Prime Ministerial idea. It has no more validity than that…” with a straight face. Paul Waugh suggests Hughes “exploded” last night upon hearing Cameron’s words about scrapping council houses for life. Guido has said many a time that Hughes and his left-wing dog-whistling is a weakspot and he’s a plotter. Could be a very interesting summer of explosions in the run up to Party conference season…

Crash and Burnham

Poor Andy Burnham, try as he will, nothing seems to be going right in his leadership campaign. Despite basing his campaign oop north, last night he was all set for a big phonebanking event at Labour HQ, which all candidates have fair use of.

The volunteers were gathered, the scripts prepared, the pizza man on speed dial. Shame no one had actually remembered to book the room. Much fun was had by all though – down the pub instead.

The Guidoisation of Politics Goes Global

When the nation’s media and chattering classes woke up to the fact that the last Parliament was rotten to the core, that the Labour government were corrupt, lying, power-hungry incompetents and that Gordon Brown was a needle short of a moral compass, Guido’s mission was complete. He has to chuckle that the resurgent Republican Party have attempted a similar tactic in the US:

Faux outrage over “flirting with a 17th century British terrorist as part of a campaign” has spread through the American left. Guido is taking the GOP’s spin loathing, freedom lovin’ “Remember November” campaign as nothing short of a compliment.

Nothing like a bit of viral pyrotechnics to get some attention eh?

Slashing Spinners Should Go Further

In the run up to the General Election the Central Office of Information spent over £300m on government propaganda. They managed to leave global advertising giants Procter & Gamble for dust with their near un-restrained, publicly funded, spending blitz. The COI was being used by the outgoing government for political means, the closer the election got the more money it spent. So todays news that the COI has halved its monthly budget since May is certainly welcome, but don’t forget this is still a ridiculous amount of money for the state to be spending on promoting itself.

When Guido first read that 287 jobs were being cut at the COI he presumed the whole department was being scrapped, but that is a mere dent. The bloated machine operation will be slimmed down to just, er, 450 spin merchants.The “Big Society” public are being asked to run the country, can they not be trusted to make their own minds up about government projects and operations?

The Candidate To Beat

The Republican candidate in the Tennessee gubernatorial race seems to have got his viral campaign sorted:

Guido recommends putting the subtitles on…

All Must Have Prizes

In a move likely to massively increase his book sales, a group of academics have ranked Gordon only the third worst post-war Prime Minister. Gordon’s allies often say history will judge him more kindly than his modern critics, though it’s not looking good if the one hundred historians polled here are anything to go by.

Eden and Douglas-Home were the two deemed more catastrophic failures than the Prime Mentalist – Suez and Profumo still playing strong with the historians. Though Gordon should take note, all is not lost, Douglas-Home spent another six years active in politics after his resignation and even served in Heath’s cabinet. He actually turned up to Westminster though…

Big Society Watches Your Drinking

Dave took the time to launch his vision of the ‘Big Society’ just ahead of the parliamentary recess. Beneath the Obama-lite rhetoric and calls for a legion of volunteers to run services was a message: it’s time to cut back […]

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Wonk Watch: Adam Smith Institute

Wonkwatch

Guido was pleased to see the venerable Adam Smith Institute as the top trending Twitter topic earlier this morning.  Had the Twitterati finally fallen in love with one of Thatcher’s favourite think tanks? Perhaps they had recognised the debt owed […]

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The Smoking Gun

While it may be a mere attempt at generating some headlines, if ever proof was needed that despite the long haul of handshakes, the hustings, the “internal debate”, the Labour Leadership frontrunner David Miliband still doesn’t get it, then […]

+ READ MORE +

Monday Morning Cartoon

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