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Friday, July 23, 2010 

How government works.

1. Crispin Blunt, the prisons minister, gives a speech containing a mixture of the fatuous and encouraging on how he intends to reform the system. Choice quotes:

We recognise that arts activities can play a valuable role in helping offenders to address issues such as communication problems and low self-esteem and enabling them to engage in programmes that address their offending behaviour I confess before getting this job I was not aware of Prison Service Instruction number 50 of 2008, though was vaguely conscious of some row in the tabloids about offenders being recorded as enjoying themselves. As a measure it was typical of the last administration’s flakiness under pressure. At the slightest whiff of criticism from the popular press policy tended to get changed and the consequence of an absurd overreaction to offenders being exposed to comedy in prison was this deleterious, damaging and daft instruction.
I’m pleased to have marked the actual day of the 100th anniversary of Churchill’s speech on Tuesday by rescinding it.


We face the harsh reality of rescuing the public finances or as the Justice Secretary so pithily put it in our area of responsibility effecting a change from an era of policy making with a chequebook in one hand and the Daily Mail in the other.

2. The tabloids referred to, duly insulted, take his comments personally, as they always do. The Sun features the change in policy on their front page, while the Mail makes it their main splash. The Mail, naturally, doesn't feature the quote about itself in its coverage.

3. Downing Street makes clear that there will be no parties in prisons. David Cameron has full confidence in Crispin Blunt.

4. Crispin Blunt is moved from his post at the first opportunity (probably).

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