ANOTHER INITIATIVE

‘Pretty Hopeless’ Patel, our esteemed Home Secretary, has launched a new initiative to try and curb illegal immigration by the boat people coming across the Channel from France.

To refresh our memories, this form of illegal immigration has been blighting our shores for as long as I can remember. On their long and arduous journey from foreign fields, they will have passed through a number of countries, all of which claim enlightenment and a new way of life, but by all accounts nowhere near as attractive as a new way of life in this sceptred isle, with free housing and income support and free schooling; in short, if it’s free, it’s on offer.

No fault of ‘Pretty Useless’, but she has had no cooperation whatsoever from the countries that these immigrants trek through on their journey to Calais, and so long as they keep trekking, no questions are asked and no help given.  It’s called kicking the can down the road.

It’s when they reach the Channel, with their boats and their smuggler escorts ready to relieve them of obscene amounts of money, that ‘Pretty Useless’ should stand up and be counted, because, as we all know, many cross without challenge.  Each boatload contains as least one pregnant woman and two infants to increase their chances of a warm British welcome, and as the statistics show, once taken into the care and custody of the authorities, they are all but home and dry (if you’ll forgive the pun.)

But never to be accused of doing nothing, ‘Pretty Useless’ came up with a real vote winner.  In short, the illegals would be taken to the last outposts of the Empire, with the two front runners being Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.  Once settled in, they would be processed, with the favoured few given permanent residence in the UK, and the dross returned from whence they came.  Brilliant!

I could see various problems, the first and most obvious being that she and her staff had failed to consult the first ministers of these outposts of her devillishly cunning plan, and when asked, the first minister of Gibraltar, to name but one, was less than enthusiastic.  In short, it was a non starter, and to put it bluntly, the plan found no favour at all with the government of Spain or with the Barbary apes who had lived on the Rock for generations.  And then there were the logistics of flying boatloads of illegals into their temporary new homes, yet to be built, courtesy of Fly in Fear or Squeezy Jet, to be told at the airport that they did not have the proper entry permits and must therefore be returned to the UK forthwith.

The obvious solution would be to persuade Monsieur Grenouille to take them back from whence they came, but it’s been tried before, and frankly, the illegals are not welcomed.  Far better to let the British sort it out.

I see no prospect for an early solution, despite assurances from ‘Pretty Useless’ and her cohorts.  I sense an imminent vacancy in Cabinet, but she won’t go without a fight.

OFF TO HELL IN A HANDCART

No right minded person can feel anything other than revulsion over the murder of Sarah Everard after walking alone and at night over Clapham Common. Sadly, she is one of many.  Quite what she was doing walking alone and at night over Clapham Common is unknown, but to suggest that she was exposing herself to needless attack may be an understatement.

The sad reality is that women alone are frequently the object of unwelcome attention by men looking for sexual gratification.  In broad terms, whether it is Clapham or anywhere else, safety cannot be guaranteed, so taking a taxi home, or staying in at night, may be the safest way forward.

It may be an understandable reaction to Sarah’s death that people want to show their support by leaving flowers, and they may take comfort in sharing the moment, briefly,  with kindred spirits.  But to congregate in public areas, with  offensive placards and provocative shouting by complete morons, is inevitably going to lead to a confrontation.

The rules, like them or not, are clear and still in force.  Gathering in large numbers is forbidden.  It is against the law, and the police have a duty to enforce it.  Those who criticise the police either fail to understand or completely ignore the pandemic, and once they become infected with the virus, they infect others.

It is this sort of mindless behaviour that will prolong the pandemic, and if they continue to flout the rules, we are all off to Hell in a handcart.

 

THROW AWAY THE KEY

Until I read remarks made by Chris Philp, I had no idea we had a minister responsible for sentencing.  I gather that he is also minister for immigration compliance, although the precise particulars of such a grave and weighty post have not been made clear.  However, it looks good on his CV.

The redoubtable Philp is in the news for saying that longer sentences of imprisonment do not help in cutting crime.  Not exactly a revelation of damascene proportions, and certainly not in the party manifesto, but true nonetheless. Like so many others, I have known for many years that locking up offenders for ever and a day may work amongst the ‘hang ’em high’ brigade, but it achieves nothing of value.

I remember, some years ago, chairing a meeting of respectable ‘law abiding’ citizens to debate capital punishment.  It achieved very  little.  I recall one comment from the back row: ‘if you hang them, they won’t do it again’, and there was a murmur of approval.

There are two competing interests in this debate.  The first, widely debunked, is that lengthy sentences of imprisonment will deter others from offending.  Nonsense!  The only  effective deterrent in the criminal justice system is the fear of being caught, so better public protection is the key.

I have been to many prisons in my time as a practising barrister, and I am struck by the dehumanising atmosphere of the prison system, the appalling annual expense of keeping prisoners locked up, currently running at £43,000, and the failure of the system to put these captive audiences to better use, which is nothing short of a disgrace.  Once governments, and their mouthpieces the judiciary, understand that if you treat human beings like animals, they will behave like animals, then some progress can be made in achieving the standards of decency and rehabilitation which surely, in a civilised society, should be the goal.

 

LE PETIT FILOU (the little rascal*)

Word reaches me, direct from gay Paris, that Nicolas Sarkozy, the former pocket President of the French Republic, has been convicted on charges of offering to bribe a judge in return for information.  He denies the charges and will appeal. He has the support of his drop-dead gorgeous wife Carla Bruni, who described the conviction and sentence as  ‘harcèlement insensé’ (senseless harassment*), and franchement (frankly*), what’s good enough for her is good enough for me.

The French have come a long way since Le Roi Soleil (sun king *), and not all of it memorable for the right reasons.  The unbelievably pompous and self important Charles de Gaulle, he who sat out the Second World war in London with no sense of gratitude for what the Allies did for him or La Belle France, was a ‘douleur dans le cul’ (‘pain in the arse).  The joke was told of him when he unexpectedly entered the bedroom and startled the fragrant Madame de Gaulle.  “Mon Dieu” (my God*), she exclaimed, to which he replied: “Yes I know, but when we are alone, you can call me Charles” (sacré bleu).

To name two more, Mitterand was deeply corrupt, as was Jacques Chirac, and I could go on, as corruption and incompetence seem endemic in the Elysée Palace.  To this list may be added the name of Sarkozy depending on the outcome of his appeal.  As to that, “les balles sont dans l’air” (the balls are in the air*).

Of greater interest to the likes of me as a lawyer is the sentence of 3 years in prison, 2 suspended, and the first year to be spent ‘chez lui’ (his pad*) with an electronic tag.  Nobody has asked for Carla’s reaction to being ‘amochée’ (banged up*) with Nicolas.  Those of us who are surviving the lockdown know only too well how time can hang heavy on our sanity, so ‘on va voir’ (we shall see*).

Here in the UK we have 83,500 serving prisoners, of whom 68% can be described as non-violent, and a fair proportion who shouldn’t be in prison in the first place.  The idea of using prison as a short term expedient has been shown over and again not to work.  I am therefore attracted to the French idea of serving part of a sentence at home.  Imagine the benefits: several prisons could close their gates for the last time, and serving any part of a sentence at home but with restricted liberty is treating offenders as human beings and not  caged animals.  Reoffending rates would fall dramatically.

Given Boris Johnson’s determination, against all the odds, to keep Priti Patel as his Home Secretary, if she were to adopt this scheme, it would show that she is not a complete waste of space around the Cabinet table. That dubious honour would pass without demur to Gavin Williamson, still trying to master his two times tables.  He would then become everybody’s whipping boy,  and ‘bonne chance’ (good luck).  It would also give Priti more time to hunt down the illegal immigrants and see them off.

THE RUSSIAN BEAR

I know I am not alone in condemning Russia’s repeated breaches of human rights, and some day it is to be hoped that common decency will prevail.

What is Tsar Vlad the Bad so frightened of that he neeeds to silence his critics in much the same way as Joseph Stalin, his hero of yesteryear? After all, he rules Russia with an iron rod, or so he believes, and like Jo, Tsar Vlad believes in the maxim that “you are either for us or against us”, there is no middle way.

Like any totalitarian dictator, the very thought of dissent will not be tolerated, so Alexei Navalry will not be tolerated.  He has been deported to a Gulag somewhere remote where he and his opposition will be forgotten, and with any luck, as the spotlight of world condemnation turns elsewhere, Navalry will simply disappear.  I hope not, but Tsar Vlad does not bow to public opinion, whether home grown or global, as witness the brass neck of the man who authorised the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury England.  Fortunately, the hit squad was monumentally incompetent, so the Skripals survived, and when challenged, Tsar Vlad simply denied it.

The thing about totalitarian dictators is that they never feel secure, and Tsar Vlad, rightly so, is no exception.  He joins a long list whose tyranny knows no bounds, but they are still driven by fear.

“Still as they run they look behind, They hear a voice in every wind, And snatch a fearful dread.” (after Thomas Gray).