At times, I'd like to be a fly on the wall in the editorial offices of the Daily Mail. Just to get a slight insight into how insidious the actual desire to wind the good burghers of Middle England into unrighteous outrage is. Does Dacre, when he's not calling someone a vagina twice in one sentence, honestly set out to distort a story as much as humanly possible, in order to cause a storm, however little reality there is to the report in question? How can the hacks write such utter bollocks and not want to rise up and throw the right-wing toad in the editor's chair out of the window?
Today's front page splash is a classic. CONVICTS HANDED KEYS TO CELLS, screams the headline, taking up so much of the page that the story is constricted into a tiny rectangle at the bottom. This latest politically correct insult to common sense means that nearly 6,000 out of 9,577 offenders in Yorkshire prisons have "privacy" locks to protect themselves and their belongings.
And that's the story. Note that they don't have the actual keys to the cells themselves. Usually only those in open prisons who are coming to the end of their sentence and who have jobs are given those so they can let themselves out early in the morning in order to get to work. No, these are privacy locks. And they do, to take the quote from the Ronseal ad, exactly what they say on the tin, or rather the key. As jailhouselawyer says, and seeing as he's been in prison and ought to know, these keys aren't a new thing. They've been in the system since the late 70s, and they're designed so that prisoners can lock their cells so that other inmates can't just walk in and help themselves to things, because, believe it or not, there tend to be thieves in prisons. Indeed, they can also be used by inmates to protect themselves: locking themselves in so no one other than the screws can get to them.
Guess what? According to the Daily Mail, this entirely acceptable trend, and I think most would agree that even criminals should be allowed to secure their belongings once they've been locked away, is further proof that the HUMAN-RIGHTS CULTURE IS OUT OF CONTROL. OK, I admit, I've put that all in caps when it isn't in the article, but what other conclusion is the casual reader meant to draw from the Mail's spin on this non-story?
Naturally, they've also got some outraged people in positions of almost power who can shout as loud as they can at this appalling injustice. First up we've got Philip Davies (who incidentally was the MP who had to retract his plea for the non-existent Windsor Muslim yobs to fuck off), the Shipley Tory MP:
Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies accused the Government of "turning prisons into hotels".
He said: "People will be horrified to know so many prisons give inmates their own keys. It will reinforce their views that the regime is far too lax and cushy.
"These people are banged up for a reason. But the Government seems more concerned about the human rights of criminals than those of their victims, who are footing the bill to keep them in increasingly pleasant surroundings."
Every time someone suggests that prisons are turning into hotels, I have to wonder just how much that person would like to spend just a night, not a whole sentence in one of these superb and welcoming lodges. Maybe Phil would like to consult either Jonathan Aitken or Jeffrey Archer, his ex-political colleagues, for their views on the current state of the nation's premier hostels. Neither, as far as I'm aware, were much enamoured with their temporary accommodation.
Blair Gibbs, director of the Tax-Payers' Alliance, said: "It is hard to believe we live in a serious country any more when you hear lunacy like this. Our politicians are clearly not capable of running anything that resembles an effective criminal justice system."
Ah yes, the Taxpayers' Alliance. These people really stick in my throat. There's one thing trying to represent a single interest group - I'm a proud member of the extremist Liberty, for instance - but it's quite another attempting to represent the whole nation, because that's what this group is pretending to do. Believe it or not, as elections tend to show, not every taxpayer agrees that taxes should always be moving lower, or as the Taxpayers' Alliance wants, a flat tax. You would also have thought that being a supposed alliance for taxpayers, they should perhaps stick to only commenting on taxes rather than the current banging up policies in the nation's jails. Obviously not. According to Mr Blair Gibbs, which is an interesting name to say the least, this is "lunacy". Personally, I find it lunacy that a group such as the Taxpayers' Alliance can be taken seriously and not told to go forth and multiply whenever they appear. Then again, this is the Daily Mail.
The next step in the article is to bring up a load of totally irrelevant other cases currently afflicting the prison system. Unsurprisingly, overcrowding due to the continuing crackdowns on crime isn't mentioned.
The revelation will still reinforce concern that prisoners' 'rights' are increasingly being pandered to.
In the financial year that ended last March, £8.8million in compensation was paid out to prisoners - almost 15 times as much as just two years earlier.
What the Daily Mail doesn't want you to know is that this figure includes compensation still being paid out to those who were abused during the reign of terror at Wormwood Scrubs in the 1990s, of which more than 160 prison officers were involved in, with 56 prisoners being beaten and psychologically tortured, told that they would be hung with sheets so that it looked like they'd committed suicide. Surprised that you perhaps haven't heard more about this? It's amazing what can be excused when prisons are full of people who are inherently evil or who deserve everything they get. There was incredibly little coverage of the scandal - only the Guardian dedicated much space to reporting it. The Daily Mail dedicated a whole 151 words to their story about the report by Peter Quinn.
Earlier this year, Derbyshire chief constable David Coleman was accused of 'madness' after refusing to release pictures of two escaped murderers amid fears it might breach their human rights. He claimed they posed 'no risk' to local people.
Which was his pathetic, ridiculous excuse for not getting the photographs out soon enough, which the tabloids of course jumped on because it meant they could bash the Human Rights Act again, even when it was comprehensively not at fault.
So there you have it. In prison, much stays the same, as it does in Daily Mail land. The next scheme to enrage Middle England should be starting to hit doorsteps in around 6 hours time.
Five Chinese Crackers - Can we have some over-reaction please?
Labels: abuses by tabloids, Mail-watch, Philip Davies MP, prisons, Taxpayers' Alliance