A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

You’re a Justice Minister in one of the most violent countries in the developed world. The prisons are full AND the budgets are tight, so you need to start sending fewer people down. But your stupid voters, brainwashed by the punitive tabloids, won’t like it one little bit. Telling them they’re stupid is bad PR. How can you spin it to avoid “Thugs free to walk streets” headlines ?

You need to find a company who can market it to the stupid voters as “cutting reoffending rates”. But where can such a company be found ?

“There’s a firm at Pacific Quay in Glasgow who’ll do it for free!”

And so there was.

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93 Responses to A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

  1. Pete says:

    Why are old, failed BBC programmes being shown on ITV3?

    ‘The Lakes’, a typically risible BBC drama from 15 or 20 years ago is now on ITV, with adverts.

    Just what is the difference between the BBC’s trash programming and the commercial sector’s trash programming apart from the fact that we are criminalised if we don’t pay for the BBC’s trash?

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  2. Peter says:

    “A similar formula has been successfully piloted in Turning Point Scotland’s 218 women’s service in Glasgow, where a holistic, person-centred and needs-led approach is taken to help service users face up to their offending, its causes, and the impact their behaviour has on victims and communities.”

    “person centre” As opposed to giant lizards?
    “Service users”?
    “Have a nice day,call again”

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  3. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Stupid voters? Brainwashed by the tabloids? I suspect my IQ is three times higher than yours, and I have no idea what the tabloids say (you, on the other hand, do).
    What an asshole.

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  4. Cockney says:

    Not necessarily convinced about your own analysis, but government ministers certainly shouldn’t be ‘writing for’ the BBC. What the hell is going on??!!

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  5. archroy says:

    ‘Holistic’ – sure sign someone’s talking bollocks.

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  6. Rob says:

    I assume that Her Majesty’s Opposition will enjoy an equally verbose right of reply to that political statement from the Government?

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  7. Hugh says:

    Cockney: “…government ministers certainly shouldn’t be ‘writing for’ the BBC. What the hell is going on??!!”

    The BBC news website does not seem to appreciate that its commitment to impartiality means there are things newspapers and other websites can do that they should not.

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  8. Hannah says:

    And so there was,

    biased BBC to conjour up a conspiracy. The prisons ARE full, and a lot of people are in there unnecessarialy when they could be treated differently which would in turn free up space for more violent criminals.

    But that doesn’t make for a good post does it?

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  9. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “a lot of people are in there unnecessarialy” – yep, all those nice murderers, rapists, violent robbers, killers in charge of a car, conspirators to cause explosions … much better to have them receive compassionate care in the community.

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  10. Sarah-Jane says:

    yep, all those nice murderers, rapists, violent robbers, killers in charge of a car, conspirators to cause explosions … much better to have them receive compassionate care in the community.
    Nearly Oxfordian | 31.01.08 – 11:46 am | #

    You must have missed the bit about the scheme being for miscreants on short sentances.

    So not for rapists, killers, etc

    But please tell us how clever you are again.

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  11. EssexBoy says:

    Just as long as the released Scottish criminals stay in Scotland then who cares.

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  12. Andy says:

    Hannah –

    What trite lefty balderdash.
    You haven’t got the faintest effing clue have you? Have you ever been in contact with criminals?

    A criminal is a criminal – violent or otherwise. The problem is not handled your nonsense but by the following four steps:

    1. Immobilize him
    2. Render him harmless
    3. Gain his confidence
    4. Rehabilitate him.

    Those steps are what prisons are for.

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  13. Hannah says:

    Can we change your name ‘nearly oxfordian’, to ‘oxfordian who may never make it’.

    Are you a sample of what our universities are turning out? Dear help us.

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  14. Hannah says:

    Have you ever been in contact with criminals?

    LOL I live in NI, we have them *ahem* in government. I have a fair idea of how criminals are dealt with, your 4 steps would really work as regards shoplifting crimes, or continually failing to pay fines.

    Did you read the bit Sarah-Jane pointed out or do you have problems with reading?

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  15. Andy says:

    Hannah
    No, seriously, have you ever worked with or been in contact with criminals or the prison system?

    What do you mean by non-violents being “treated differently”? Furnish me with some peer reviewed evidence that shows the “treated differently” (whatever that is) is far superior to the custodial system: reoffending rates etc.

    I look forward to some frantic Google searches from you, but at least back up your statements.

    Your attempts at humour don’t invalidate the points I am making.

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  16. Hugh says:

    Hannah, you’re missing the point. The BBC has posted an article written by a government minister in support of their own policy. It’s a party political broadcast. Since it allows no reply or alternative view, how can it hope to fufil the BBC’s obligation to report impartially?

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  17. Sarah-Jane says:

    Hugh I am inclined to agree on this one. Laban’s hyperbole hides what is quite a serious point IMO and would have been far better made if it had been addressed with straighter prose.

    I find it very strange. Whatever the merits of the scheme, there is no balancing view.

    We know there is one because Andrew Black mentions it here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7216207.stm

    As someone said earlier, just because papers do this, doesnt mean the BBC should.

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  18. p and a tale of one chip says:

    “A criminal is a criminal – violent or otherwise. The problem is not handled your nonsense but by the following four steps:

    1. Immobilize him
    2. Render him harmless
    3. Gain his confidence
    4. Rehabilitate him.”

    Whoa, hold on. What about people who refuse to pay the TV licence?

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  19. Hugh says:

    Sarah-Jane: Thanks. It’s good of you to say so.

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  20. Hannah says:

    Andy,

    You miss the point I’m making. The custodial system is FULL to capacity. We need to look at different ways of treating miscreants,

    Hugh, I take your point re impartiality,

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  21. Cockney says:

    Hannah, I don’t disagree that the political opinions expressed in the post are pretty debatable. But this is a government minister writing FOR the BBC completely unmolested by any editorial comment or contrary view. That’s ridiculous.

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  22. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Hannah, do you have the slightest clue how infantile and idiotic your comments are?

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  23. Andy says:

    So what are these “different ways”?

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  24. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    The same goes for Sarah-Jane, of course, who would not recognise a clever comment (or irony, for that matter) if they bit her on her beeboid whatsit.

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  25. Sarah-Jane says:

    If you manage to write one I will have no trouble recognising it.

    xx

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  26. Andy says:

    “What about people who refuse to pay the TV licence?”

    Then they’ll jail yo ass boy!

    To avoid this I suggest not owning a telly or equipment capable of receiving broadcasts or whatever the terminology is.

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  27. Hannah says:

    Isn’t ‘oxfordian who will never make it’ sweet when he is sore?

    Andy, in NI we are having a lot of success with community resorative justice schemes (CRJ’s), which are also used in the States. Some of our CRJ’s still won’t come under police control (in Nationalist areas), but in Unionist areas they work with the police and as far as I know funded by the tax payer. Until very recently they were funded by an American, but that funding ran out.

    Thats one alternative way.

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  28. Lee Moore says:

    Just to be clear – the government minister is from the SNP. Any reply by the Opposition would be from Labour, who would, give or take a comma, express the same view. By the way, it looks like the bloke may have a vested interest in light sentencing :

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/535592.stm

    Hannah is perfectly right that the jails are full. The question is then what to do about it. You can let some people out of jail, or you can build more jails, or you can do a mixture of the two. The problem with the BBC is that you only ever get spokesmen for the first option – letting more people out of jail. For those non irredeemably biased Beeboids listening in, here’s an idea for a documentary. A genuine look at the statistics for reoffending – comparing prison with non custodial sentencing. It’s been done before by a chap called Peter Coad, but there’d be no harm in doing it again with up to date numbers.

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  29. John Reith says:

    I don’t think ‘impartiality’ – as such – is the issue here.

    There is no ‘reporting’ involved and no BBC ‘voice’.

    There is a precedent for the Government having a right to use the BBC to explain its policies – for many years there used to be things called Ministerial Broadcasts, in which the PM or a senior cabinet minister addresses the nation directly.

    They used to be common – but more recently have been reserved for momentous announcements – the last one I remember a PM doing was Blair’s one in 2003 about the Iraq war.

    However, the annual Budget broadcast by the Chancellor is a vestige of the same genre.

    This is the first time I’ve seen an online version of the same thing.

    While, as I say, there is no impartiality issue of the normal sort – there is obviously a question of balance. If a government minister gets to put his case across in this way, the normal thing would be for the a right of reply to be given to equivalent opposition spokesmen.

    Unless you have evidence that the opposition has been prevented from exercising a right to reply, I can’t see that any complaint of bias is appropriate.

    It’s perhaps worth mentioning that the government party in this case is the SNP and the opposition, Labour.

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  30. Hugh says:

    That’s alright then, as long as the SNP and Labour agree we can just stream their press releases.

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  31. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “Isn’t ‘oxfordian who will never make it’ sweet when he is sore?”

    What a tosser.

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  32. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “If you manage to write one I will have no trouble recognising it”

    Disproved by your failure to recognise it on the other thread. Next!

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  33. John Reith says:

    That’s alright then, as long as the SNP and Labour agree we can just stream their press releases.
    Hugh | 31.01.08 – 12:58 pm |

    No, the Conservatives and Lib Dems would also have a right to be heard. And maybe the Greens too (if they still have any MSPs).

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  34. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Referring to them twice as “stupid voters” is not ironic, merely stupid.

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  35. Hugh says:

    Let’s just hope the reader catches each of the opposing articles so that they can eventually get a rounded view – is that the idea?

    Furthermore, does the BBC then have to invite each of the other parties to write a piece or do we just rely on them seeing it and putting themselves forward?

    And will anyone ever be able to allege bias again without being able to prove that those who disagree were prevented from putting their case, rather than just being able to point out that no opposing view was put?

    And, finally, do you honestly believe this is a good idea? There’s lots of things the BBC and the media used to do that they don’t any longer. It wasn’t that long ago interviewers were entirely deferential to ministers.

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  36. David Gregory (BBC) says:

    Hmmm. I can see if the BBC is going to try and re-engage people with politics there’s something for letting politicians have some space to put their points at length. Let people make up their own minds. Alongside the usual rigorous interview.
    Mind you I have to say I don’t like this myself. I’ll report back on this one.

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  37. Hugh says:

    Nearly Oxfordian:
    Referring to them twice as “stupid voters” is not ironic, merely stupid.

    He was pointing to the arrogance of the political class and their belief that they know better.

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  38. David Vance says:

    Andy,

    Just to say that here in Northern Ireland, and quite contrary to what Hannah suggests, Community Restorative Justiice schemes are one big cop-out, if you’ll pardon the pun. The place for criminals is behind bars.

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  39. Andy says:

    Hannah,

    “Andy, in NI we are having a lot of success with community resorative justice schemes”

    How do you know its a success? Because some politician told you? Success compared to what?

    I’m interested in finding out some hard stats – academic journals even better.

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  40. John Reith says:

    Hugh | 31.01.08 – 1:15 pm

    Let’s just hope the reader catches each of the opposing articles so that they can eventually get a rounded view – is that the idea?

    Well, that’s pretty much the way it works with just about every other issue.

    If you get the PM interviewed on the Today programme, you don’t get the leaders of the opposition parties popping up on the same day.

    Balance is normally achieved over time.

    With web articles it’s easy to link one to another.

    And will anyone ever be able to allege bias again without being able to prove that those who disagree were prevented from putting their case, rather than just being able to point out that no opposing view was put?

    Bias, as the word implies means a continuing leaning towards one side and against another.

    The BBC’s responsibility is to see to it that on any question a full range of significant opinions is put. Not on the same day. Not in the same programme. And not at the same length always.

    To allege bias, therefore, you should be able to marshal evidence that a significant strand of opinion has gone unrepresented (or, at least, under-represented in view of its significance) while another has been unduly favoured.

    And, finally, do you honestly believe this is a good idea?

    I do think that it’s a good idea to have politicians explain their policies at length and in an unmediated way from time to time. But when they do so, I think it would be best if the public could reply at once. So I’d make it a rule of thumb always to append an HYS to articles like this.

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  41. Hannah says:

    David….the jails are FULL. ‘Gottit?’

    Andy, CRJ’s,(in NI) until now didn’t work in hard stats. They are pretty informal, and funding via government is only with them a short while, not long enough to draw up statistics. They were up until recently only accountable to their funder, things are changing in that regard. As to the situation in the states, I’ll be honest with you I don’t,know, and I’m at work so I haven’t the time to look. But CRJ’s in NI have been in the press telling of their achievements, and indeed I did visit one of them to see how they worked first hand and they looked impressive and professional.

    Dealing mainly with feuds between neighbours (I know what you are going to say David Vance so save it!)-and such things as anti social behaviour.

    ‘oxfordian who will never make it’ tosser moi? lol. Was that the best word you could come up with? I think you need a dictionary! Try the Oxford version.;-)

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  42. Hugh says:

    Reith: “If you get the PM interviewed on the Today programme, you don’t get the leaders of the opposition parties popping up on the same day. Balance is normally achieved over time.”

    No, the balance is achieved immediately by the interviewer putting up an opposing view or challenging the PM. Or at least it should be.

    “Bias, as the word implies means a continuing leaning towards one side and against another…The BBC’s responsibility is to see to it that on any question a full range of significant opinions is put. Not on the same day. Not in the same programme. And not at the same length always.
    To allege bias, therefore, you should be able to marshal evidence that a significant strand of opinion has gone unrepresented (or, at least, under-represented in view of its significance) while another has been unduly favoured.”

    This is nonsense. In this article, no opposing view was put, which obviously favours the minister. A Have Your Say would make little difference to the fact that the minister is allowed to put their case at length without significant challenge. And if you are asking for the entire output of the BBC to be considered (and over what length of time?) before bias is established, there is going to be practically no way of ever establishing if the BBC is being impartial or not.

    “I do think that it’s a good idea to have politicians explain their policies at length and in an unmediated way from time to time. But when they do so, I think it would be best if the public could reply at once.”

    On what issues – just the really important ones like War, the Budget and a rehabilitation scheme up in Scotland? We already have Question Time, in-depth interviews, documentaries and – if you must – the possibility to collect a series of articles from opposing points of view presented in one feature or linked to one another. In all these instances, politicians can – to a greater or lesser extent – explain their thinking and their government’s policies in detail. None of them resemble a party political broadcast.
    And then we have a few newspapers here and there in which politicians are often free to pen their thoughts. Just because it’s not done by the BBC doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.

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  43. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “And if you are asking for the entire output of the BBC to be considered (and over what length of time?) before bias is established, there is going to be practically no way of ever establishing if the BBC is being impartial or not” –

    can’t see this at all. BBC bias in many areas has been established beyond sane doubt over several years: is that not long enough?

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  44. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Hannah, ‘tosser’ is the only description you merit for attacking my name and inferring from it that I am an academic failure, and trying to perpetuate this idiotic interpretation of it. Any further explanation of why I chose this name, and its ironic undertones, would be wasted on a sad loser like you.

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  45. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Hugh: oh, OK 😉

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  46. John Reith says:

    Hugh | 31.01.08 – 1:58 pm

    In this article, no opposing view was put, which obviously favours the minister.

    You seem to share a misunderstanding of the nature of the BBC’s duty to be impartial.

    It is not some ‘equal time directive.’

    The following bits of the Editorial Guidelines may be helpful:

    we can explore or report on a specific aspect of an issue or provide an opportunity for a single view to be expressed, but in doing so we do not misrepresent opposing views. They may also require a right of reply…..

    we strive to reflect a wide range of opinion and explore a range and conflict of views so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under represented.

    The Agreement accompanying the BBC’s Charter requires us to produce comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the UK and throughout the world to support fair and informed debate. It specifies that we should do all we can to treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and impartiality in our news services and other programmes dealing with matters of public policy or of political or industrial controversy. It also states that the BBC is forbidden from expressing an opinion on current affairs or matters of public policy other than broadcasting.

    Impartiality is described in the Agreement as “due impartiality”. It requires us to be fair and open minded when examining the evidence and weighing all the material facts, as well as being objective and even handed in our approach to a subject. It does not require the representation of every argument or facet of every argument on every occasion or an equal division of time for each view.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/edguide/impariality/

    A Have Your Say would make little difference….

    You must have a dim view of Joe Public.

    Some further context:

    The story links to another (companion piece) which records:

    The Conservatives have expressed concern about the policy, claiming the government was only interested in emptying prisons, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats have warned the policy should not put public safety at risk.

    That in turn links to another which announces that special commission chaired by an opposition politician has been set up to “look at the purpose and impact of imprisonment in contemporary Scotland.” It is due to report in June.

    This article is kicking off a public debate that will go on for some time and which will have contributions from people across the political spectrum. I would expect the BBC to follow the debate and to reflect the range of opinions that emerge.

    The question of bias would only arise if the BBC were to take a position itself on the matter in question, or consistently favoured one particular side at the expense of the others.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7005098.stm

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  47. Sarah-Jane says:

    JR – all those things you have written are true – but are rather dependant on your expert knowledge of the site, its architecture and the guidelines.

    To the normal person, (and I include myself and, I think, DG in this) this is a verbatim transcript of Government PR. It is not balanced.

    Sometimes we have to concede the point, else we lack credibility to any open-minded people who may be reading this blog.

    The ones who made their minds up that we are all gay Marxists will not be persuaded whatever we say, but this site must attract plenty of less certain lurkers by now.

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  48. Gordon says:

    I am quoting from memory but I heard, a good few months ago, a judge on the Radio Four Law in Action program interjecting during a discussion about violent crime “but what they don’t tell you is that the violent crime rate now is about ten times greater than what it was in 1950”.There was then a one second silence, after which the discussion continued as if nothing had been said.
    Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room!
    What are the chances of the BBC reporting objectively about this.

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  49. David Gregory (BBC) says:

    I think S-J is right. We’ll see though, things might be a foot.

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  50. Lee Moore says:

    I have to agree with John Reith, at least in part. Balance does not require that everyone who tries to express a view on the BBC must be prevented from expressing it by a BBC interviewer interrupting every 2.3 seconds. Nor does every programme, or every segment of a programme have to be balanced (that would be impossible.) Balance can be achieved in lots of different ways – including letting people of different views spout them unimpeded by their opponents or by frothing interviewers.

    However if you choose that route, you do have to be very careful about giving different people their opportunity. On prison v community sentencing, I’ve seen innumerable “liberals” given an opportunity to spout, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hang ’em, flog ’em, imprison ’em type given the opportunity.

    I also query the idea that balance is necessarily achieved by allowing spokesmen for different parties to spout. There are lots of issues on which there is a very significant body of opinion that is not represented by any official party spokesman. Even the Tories are well to the left of a majority of the public on prisons and criminal sentencing. None of the main parties represent the view of the 30%-40% who would like to leave the EU. And all the main parties are far more in favour of free trade than most of the public. On many issues, you have to find spokesmen outside the main parties (or at least off their front benches) if you want fairly to reflect views held by a significant part of the public.

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