Saturday, April 15, 2006

A short break

Unfortunately the demands of coursework and looming exams have conspired to prevent me from blogging again until mid-May. On the upside, when I do return I hope to have a new piece ready on the need to Americanise our political base (more on that later).

Friday, April 07, 2006

St. Anselm and the perpetuation of lex talionis

When it comes to dealing with crime no party wants to appear soft, least of all perhaps the Conservative Party. he Times has highlighted the dangers of staying too far from the path of traditional retributive principles of justice. Labour will be quick to seize on any shift in traditional Tory policy, which Sieghart characterises as “prison works”. But is there away of dealing with the causes of reoffending (and crime generally) without being branded soft? I would submit that there is. But first, to the branding. Sieghart senses a new slogan, but perhaps not the theft of “tough on the causes of crime” as she jokingly suggests. Rather the Conservative Party needs to indicate its tough approach to crime whilst highlighting the party’s ‘social conscience’. By rehashing Labour’s (technically Brown’s) “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” the Conservative Party could get its point across whilst indicating to the public that Labour is stuck in the past whereas the Conservative Party is progressive. I suggest the following:

“Tough on crime, proactive on the causes of crime”

As to dealing with the problem without appearing ‘soft’ the Conservative Party needs to take a mixed bag approach; it needs to appear tough but fair, rather than tough and uncaring. I suggest the following as an outline of such an approach (I do not pretend to be able to give a comprehensive solution in one blog entry). Take a zero-tolerance approach to the commission of crime, at any level. Reduction of red-tape for stop and search. Increased use of sniffer dogs (especially in prisons). At the same time principles of restorative justice need to be utilised at all levels of society. In prisons there needs to be a focus on prisoners coming face-to-face with the effects of their actions on their victims and victims of crime in general. At the same time there needs to be greater focus on education; obtaining trades, academic qualifications, perhaps even some form of partnership with the Open University. On top of this we need to comprehensively deal with drug use in prison. All prisoners should be helped to come off drugs. But at the same time we need to take a zero-tolerance approach to its use; as I have highlighted above sniffer-dogs should play a role, indeed the key role, in this. With the universal use of sniffer dogs on all visitors, along with random inspections of the prisons and a tough response to those found in possession of drugs (i.e. an increase in sentence) drug use in prisons can be eradicated. At the same time we need to deal with ‘aftercare’; what happens to the prisoner when they re-enters society. Prisoners should not be released homeless; halfway houses would be a start. On top of this there is a need to assist the former prisoner in finding a job, or further training etc. We need to provide post-release assistance through the use something similar to the probation service, whereby the former-prisoner meets periodically with someone with whom they can discuss their progress, problems they are facing and of course obtain advice and assistance. The vital stage where restorative principles should be applied has been left to last; in the communities across the UK where crime flourishes. Prevention is after all better than cure. We need to engage with communities to address the issues that not only allow crime to thrive but indeed promote it. To do this we need to engage with local community organisations and projects; help them to help the people they serve. We need to promote traditional family values and community spirit.

What I have suggested is merely the vaguest outline of what we need to do. We need to do much more than what I have recommended, and what we do put into practice we must implement comprehensively. However whatever we do we must agree that it is time to turn our back on St. Anselm.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

As pledged to Guido

As promised to Guido, a picture of the Mr Mahmood. I must admit however that my real reason for supporting Guido in this is more to do with my disdain for tabloids than anything else. Long live the broadsheet.

The UKIP furore

It would seem that everyone and their dog is taking issue with David Cameron’s remarks with regard to UKIP. I can understand it when such opinions are expressed by our liberal left-wing media; but by Tory MPs? It strikes me that an aggressive stance with regard to UKIP is exactly what is called for given the effect they are having on the Tory vote. Lets be honest, when Mr and Mrs Smith (who in our scenario live in a nice leafy suburb, have a garage, a dog, and 2.4 children (who incidentally went to university and now work in ‘the city’)) who believe in very traditional Tory values, switch to supporting a party, UKIP, which they believe to be representative of those values, surely it is time to act and return them to the fold. How better to do this than vilify UKIP? Through effective negative campaigning, which essentially is what David Cameron’s remarks were, the UKIP brand can be repositioned in the political marketplace. Rather than being seen as a party slightly to the right of the modern Conservative Party they would be viewed as a slightly diluted version of the BNP. What would Mr and Mrs Smith’s neighbours think of the Smith’s party affiliation then?

As Conservatives we should want UKIP to be seen as “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists”. We need to drive them out of the marketplace and retake that section of our target demographic that they have invaded. Bob Spink may consider UKIP to be “good people” but that is beside the point; I don’t doubt that Labour are ‘good people’ (inasmuch that they are not inherently bad people), but given the opportunity we should attempt to capture some of their consumers by weakening their brand. Politics is a competitive market; we need to start treating it like one.

Published Articles

  1. Our Duty to Keep the Military Option in Play – ConservativeHome, Platform - 30th May 2006

  2. The Challenge for Young Conservatives – ConservativeHome, CF Diary - 21st November 2006

  3. The Battle for Student Government – ConservativeHome, CF Diary - 29th November 2006

  4. The Battle for Student Media – ConservativeHome, CF Diary - 8th December 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


As is traditional in the world of blogging the first post will be used to introduce the blog. As my profile points out I am a student of law and am currently completing my LLM in International Law at the University of Glasgow. I originally hail from Northern Ireland, although consider England to be my home.

I joined the Conservative Party in 2004 whilst living in Liverpool and discovered that my local association comprised an answering machine. Not surprisingly I found it rather difficult to take an active role at that time. Upon moving to Clydebank I made contact with the local association in West Dunbartonshire and was delighted to find an enthusiastic, albeit small, committed group of conservatives. In 2006 I was selected to run in the 2007 local government elections in Clydebank Waterfront.

With this blog I hope to offer opinion on and critique of current issues in UK politics and, more specifically, issues relating to conservativism.