About a week ago The Guardian newspaper published an interview with the former home secretary, David Blunkett. This article was a thinly-veiled 'snow-job' aimed at rehabilitating this mendacious, conceited, arrogant, and cruel individual - Predictably, Blunkett whined self-pityingly all the way through the interview, and is all set to join the front bench of the next Blair government. The ex-home secretary's resignation for lies and corruption is now being presented as some kind of ministerial fatigue, as if he felt a bit tired and needed a rest for a bit. Characteristically, Blunkett describes what happened as "a tragedy"! Blunkett may be considered rehabilitated by some people, but those who suffered under his tenure as home secretary, the deported asylum-seekers, the mother's of prison suicide victims, the thousands locked-up in increasingly degrading conditions, are unlikely to forgive this pitiful specimen of (in) humanity so easily. In the current issue of Inside Time, the prisoners' newspaper, Paul Sullivan offers some advice to the Sheffield MP. Read more articles on the Inside Time website at at www.insidetime.org
Dear Blunkett (I am addressing you in the same manner your former employees within HM Prison Service consider to be courteous and respectful) as you sit in your country pad, drying your eyes and reflecting on your misfortunes, you may wish to try something that might well be an alien concept: thinking about other people.
Maybe you could start with the 5,000 plus innocent men and women sitting in prisons throughout the UK - their lives and those of their families torn apart because you changed the law to allow anyone to be convicted on allegations alone, with no concrete evidence ... providing of course the allegation is about sex and preferably children. These unfortunates were not in a position to appoint their own judge and decide what charges would be investigated. But, as you now well know, that doesn’t always work. You can’t hide forever behind cronyism. We know you look after your friends, which is why so many within the police force, judiciary and similar establishment tools have been allowed to get away with all manner of ghastly crimes with punishment coming in the form of ‘early retirement’ and a nice fat pension.
Unfortunately the ‘Joe Bloggs’ of this world have great difficulty clearing their names because you placed every impediment the State could muster against them. The prisons over which you once held sway punish wrongfully convicted people even further by allowing them fewer privileges and expecting them to work for less wages than the guilty people they are forced to live with. And to rub salt into an already deep wound, guilty people are freed earlier than those who protest their innocence - many of whom are consistently denied parole because they refuse to do the impossible, which is to address offending behaviour.
The prison population slimmed down by around 100 last year. Those who could no longer tolerate the pressures of a system riddled with injustice, indifference, intolerance and inhumanity. We could, no doubt, work out the exact figure from your champagne bill.
Another ‘game’ your prison system plays involves locating prisoners as far from their homes and families as possible. I am currently located in Durham, while my wife lives in London. I’m sure she would be very appreciative of any spare travel warrants you have lying around, which would come in more than useful towards the £120 she pays for every visit. Or maybe you could lay on a ministerial car for her ... oops, I forgot, you’re not a minister any more. How are you coping?
Your commitment to ‘family values’ has seen refugee breadwinners deported at five minute’s notice - tearing families apart and plunging them into poverty. They don’t have the luxury of friends to sort out visas for them. You said you were feeling depressed at your situation – think how much better off you are than those people. You say you ‘can’t remember’ what you did? Perhaps if some of the ‘questioning techniques’ you so wholeheartedly supported in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay were tried on you they may have jogged your memory somewhat?
You further showed your commitment to family values by jailing mothers who couldn’t force their fifteen-year old sons to attend school. How on earth does that protect the integrity of their families? Most child vandals come from poor and disadvantaged families, so you come up with the brilliant idea of marching them to cash-points to extract fines from them – David, these people would love to HAVE a bank account, let alone money to put in it.
Your ID card is brilliant. £60 each. A couple of weeks disposable income for some families. I suppose if anyone had trouble getting one you’ll know someone who can ‘sort it out’ for them? It wouldn’t be nice if your new pals, the ‘Blunkett Babes’ (you know, the ones too stupid even to get in the police force who now play ‘cops’ for half pay) stopped them and ‘tazzared’ them. Still, I guess it’s better to die from a heart attack than a hail of police bullets, like the naked black man in Brighton, the child shot through its own bedclothes or the man carrying the table leg. Surely you must remember such incidents, because you’re the person responsible for allowing the perpetrators to get off scot-free. We have a standing joke in here, ‘What do you call a policeman with a gun? Capital punishment without trial’. Only it’s far from funny.
Well David, as you sit there proudly reflecting on dragging a pregnant woman through the courts to gain access which your law denies to thousands of other men, I’d like to suggest something you might consider doing with your spare time until the election’s over and you resurface. The Prison Service operate some excellent courses which seem tailor-made for your particular requirements … yes, I know the Home Office now insist they are a waste of time and money and don’t work ... but what the hell eh?
There is Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) that will help you understand and appreciate the effect your laws have on ordinary people. It will curb your arrogance and stop you being ‘in denial’ of any wrongdoing. Then there’s the Sex Offenders Treatment Programme (SOTP) which is aimed at people who can’t keep their trousers done up. Let’s face it David, anyone who shags a newly married woman; tries to break up her marriage; and thoroughly disrupts her life is a prime candidate for this course. It may help you to see that it is the woman and her children who are the victims here, not you! Finally, if you’re still angry about life there’s a CALM course, and of course drug awareness (CARATS) might just help?
The wonderful thing about these courses is that they are free. There is no fee to prevent poor people from doing them – unlike the fees you invented to prevent certain young people going to university and enjoying the privileges you and many of your cronies had - think about it David.
Paul Sullivan is currently resident in HMP Frankland