Lord Chancellor Clarke has dropped his pants to reveal why he has pronounced that building additional jails will not be necessary to accommodate Britain's burgeoning criminal class.
The Telegraph quotes Clarke denying that crime fell after 1993 because Home Secretary Michael Howard increased penalties.
No one can prove cause and effect. The crime rate fell, but was this the consequence of the policies of my successors as home secretary or, dare I gently hint, mine as chancellor at the beginning of a period of growth and strong employment? We will never know.While the vanity of this dislikable man is nothing new, his statement betrays either total ignorance of the vast body of work indicating that the link between poverty and crime is extremely tenuous, or else the total cynicism of a man who has decided to cut the prison budget without regard to its social impact.
Crime falls when criminals know there is a strong likelihood of being arrested, and if arrested a strong likelihood of being convicted, and if convicted a certainty of meaningful punishment. None of these conditions have been met in Britain ever since judges ceased to turn a blind eye on police "fit ups" in the late 1970s; but thanks to Howard the third condition was at least partially met until it ran into the stubborn refusal of successive governments to build the necessary penitentiaries.
The police have given up on defending the helpless, the Crown Prosecution Service is a joke, and our prisons are academies of crime in which the morality of the jailers is in many respects inferior to the code of conduct among the inmates. So, says Clarke, why don't we just give up? After all, most of those involved on both sides of the criminal justice system are unshakable Labour voters, as are most of their victims.
Remove the cigar from the above picture and you get Clarke's message very clearly.