There was an item on Radio 4’s The World At One this lunchtime about the implications of growing numbers of radical Muslim prisoners in Britain’s jails—the prison service predicts prisons will hold 1,600 convicted Islamist terrorists within ten years. Unfortunately, a government view on the matter was not forthcoming:We did ask to speak to the Ministry of Justice about how they’re dealing with this problem, but although ministers are giving interviews today about the new Conservative prison policy, we were told they wouldn’t talk about this subject.
So what you have here is government ministers willing to appear to have a go at opposition policies—to oppose the opposition, if you like—but unwilling to turn up to defend their own. How’s that for a constructive dialogue?
Is it cowardice or contempt, do you think? I can’t decide. I’ve always thought that government ministers should be forced to appear to defend their policies, with menaces if necessary.
But this then whole idea of political accountability—except at election time, obviously, when we’re asked to ratify policies we have no ‘legitimate expectation‘ to see enacted—is a honking dud.
What you mustn’t believe, however, is that this helps fuel the disconnection with, and contempt for, politics and politicians. No, like terrorism, they are spontaneous occurring phenomena.
Do go and read the whole thing: it's Justin at his pithy best.