Tuesday, 24 August 2021
Even in the midst of everything else, attention is at last being turned to the scandal of those still serving the abolished New Labour sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection. I have met them.
I was at the opposite extreme, in that they could not release me quickly enough. Less than 36 hours after the Close of Poll on Super Thursday, and less than a fortnight after I had been sent down, the letter came under my cell door, granting me a tag, for which I had never applied, on the earliest day that the law would allow.
After more than a century, the right-wing Labour machine had lost control of Durham County Council. The people who had conspired to bang me up had fallen politically, so out I would be going. And out I now am. Having received more education in those three months than in the previous 35 years.
Part of that education was being made aware of the plight of people who, having long since served two or three year tariffs for the kinds of offences that incurred such things, were nevertheless still imprisoned indefinitely, and facing indefinite licence even if they were ever to have been released.
The class and ethnic composition of those who have been given IPPs over and above their normal sentences will come as no surprise, I am sure. Those were the Blair years, and the Cameron Government was still too in thrall to "the Great Man" to reverse this obscenity properly.
But Boris Johnson faces a Blairite restorationist who is entirely a creature of the "intelligence and security" State, who is despised by working-class men, and who is viscerally hated by black ones. He should make this and many other plays for the rest of the Red Wall and for the whole of the Black Wall. To mix metaphors, he would be pushing at an open door. In this case, a prison door that many had lost hope of ever seeing opened.