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Thursday, August 06, 2009 

Jack Straw, also synonymous with heartless bastard.

It seems that we have Ronnie Biggs to thank for two things: firstly, for demonstrating just what condition you have to be released from prison on "compassionate" grounds, and secondly for highlighting what a charmless, inhumane bastard Jack Straw is.

On the 1st day of last month Straw ruled that Biggs couldn't be released because he was "wholly unrepentant". This was despite the fact that Biggs can't talk, walk, eat or drink. A few days before Straw's ruling he had fell and broken his hip; the parole board without apparently being sardonic, said the risk he posed "was manageable under the proposed risk management plan". The risk from a man who has to be fed through a tube and who can barely walk must rank up there with the risk posed by eating Pop Rocks and then drinking Coke, or the risk of being mauled to death by a band of marauding gerbils. Straw didn't bother to explain how keeping such a man in prison at a cost doubtless far in excess of that if he was in a nursing home was justifiable except in terms of pure vindictiveness. If the aim was to please the authoritarian populists in the tabloids, he failed: even they blanched at a man close to death being kept inside for no real reason except the establishment getting its own back for being played a fool for years.

37 days later and Biggs' condition has now deteriorated so significantly that Straw has granted parole on "compassionate" grounds. This in effect means that Biggs is about to die, with his son hoping that he survives long enough to see out his birthday on Saturday. If Straw had granted Biggs parole back on the 1st of July, he might just have been able to enjoy a few days of something approaching freedom; now he's likely to just slip away, having gone down with pneumonia. Politicians such as Straw justify the likes of Iraq war on the basis that even if hundreds of thousands of people died, the ends justified the means; in any event, rarely do they see the consequences of their actions close up, and even then they can take the abstract view, that they weren't personally responsible even if in the chain of command. Yet Straw can hardly deny in this instance that he may well have directly contributed to Biggs' suffering further than he needed to. Straw's shamelessness though seems unlikely to even slightly twinge his conscience, even when others would have been deeply troubled by just that thought.

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I'll have you know that gerbils are mental wee bastards.

Given that Straw was complicit in allowing the CIA to torture detainees on British soil and abroad before being flown to Gitmo, what would he care for Ronnie Biggs?

"... charmless, inhumane bastard", can't argue with that.

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