Author Archives: Ben Andrew

Why criminal records have to go

If you ask Lib Dems whether they suppport prison reform, they will say yes. A general chat about rehabilitation, drug laws, mental health funding and Scandenavia usually ensues – all of which I wholly endorse. But if we are really going to address our prison crisis, then criminal records are the elephant in the room.

Rehabilitation is about allowing people to become productive parts of society after they leave prison, and discouraging reoffending. One of the best ways to do this is to help people find employment (as page 8 of the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation document confirms). If someone lands a stable job after leaving prison, then of course they’re less likely to reoffend. Employment gives people structure, income and purpose. It’s common sense that it helps them reintegrate into society.

But if ex-prisoners have to disclose their criminal records as soon as they apply for a job, why are we surprised that so many of them remain unemployed? What incentive do employers have to take a chance on them, when the job market is so tough as it is? We seem to paradoxically believe that it’s important for ex-offenders to find work, but that no employer should have to risk hiring them. Employers might feel safer being able to sivve former criminals out without hesitation, but it’s agonizingly counter-productive for society. Poor rehabilitation leads to an increase in crime, and puts all of us in danger. Freezing ex-offenders out of the job market makes everyone less safe.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 22 Comments

Labour did not crash the economy

 

After the financial crash, the Tories persuaded the public that they were the only party who could be trusted with the economy. Osborne’s message went something like this:

“Labour crashed the economy. They did this by spending too much, borrowing too much, and letting the budget deficit get too large. In order to create a strong economy, we need to get the deficit down. And the only way to do this is to implement spending cuts until our deficit reaches zero again.”

This narrative was a huge political success. Even now that we have a new Chancellor, and a supposedly new approach, the Conservatives still hold onto the reputation of being the only economically sensible party, built on the foundations laid by so-called Osbornomics. The problem is that it is absolute nonsense.

Their economic narrative is flawed in three ways.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 125 Comments

The Language of the Left – and how it alienates progressives from their own causes

 

“Privilege”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “mansplaining”, “tone policing” and “cultural appropriation”. These terms are the Language of the Left. Anyone who has talked politics with lefties will be familiar with the way that they are thrown around in discussions willy-nilly. And each of them describes a problem which should be taken seriously.

Take “mansplaining” for example: when men explain things in a patronizing way to women, because of an imagined authority on a certain subject. This happens all the time. It happens in offices; at dinner tables; on television; in politics. If you haven’t seen this in action you’re just not looking hard enough. And “trigger warnings” serve an important purpose as well. People who suffer from PTSD after sexual assault can be severely distressed when reading descriptions of rape, for example. Flagging this up to avoid aggravating their condition is no different from warning epileptics when there will be flashing images on TV. It’s completely sensible.

But once these terms become trump cards which can automatically win arguments and shut down discussions, then mission creep seeps in, as people use them more and more lazily. People don’t just use trigger warnings to flag up distressing content any more. They splash them in front of any Daily Mail article which they disagree with, and claim they are triggered every time they hear an opinion which they don’t like.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 145 Comments
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    Russells comment at 11.52 am says pretty much all I had to say on tuition fees, with the exception of the abstain issue. With so...
  • User AvatarRob Parsons 23rd Feb - 8:00pm
    To my mind the above comments illustrate how difficult we make it for ourselves to make progress. Of course other people frame us in terms...
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    Dan Falchikov - I have read that we appear to have selected a candidate whose given address on the ballot paper was 45 miles away......
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 23rd Feb - 7:39pm
    Perhaps rather than define ourselves by late twentieth century standards we should look towards the radical liberalism of David Lloyd George,Maynard Keynes,William Beverage and Roy...
  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 23rd Feb - 6:21pm
    "Florida Senator Marco Rubio---has consistently opposed any kind of gun control.Perhaps the fact that he's accepted over 3,000,000 dollars in campaign contributions from the National...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 23rd Feb - 6:07pm
    @russell "But not nearly as much as the graduate himself who benefits by £500,000 over a lifetime!" Where has that figure has come from? If...