New Labour circular: "Meeting our targets"
Congratulations to David Blunkett for ensuring Britain stays at the top of the jailing league. Coming in at 139 prisoners for every 100,000 of population in England and Wales, we have not only a higher rate of imprisonment for every other country in Europe but we've also managed to beat off some really stiff competition from the Saudi Arabians, Burmese, Chinese and Malaysians! David's now doing a marvellous job at getting the figures up.
It's fair to say that since we came to power, the performance of our colleagues in the Home Office, after an initial spurt of locking up, has been fairly lacklustre. The prison population even stayed at a steady 64,000 in the last three years of the 90s. This week we are happy to say the prison population stands at 72,144.
To meet the growing throughput we are also pleased to announce a fantastic £200 million investment in new prisons, extra wings and houseblocks. If anybody knows any good builders - friends, relations, old school chums - do let them know there's a bidding opportunity coming up.
Nobody does it better
No country in the world succeeds in locking up people more than the land of the free. To be exact the US has 686 people per 100,000 of population - a total of 1.96 million people are locked up. And according to new US official figures around 300,000 of those prisoners are mentally ill - or16% of the total. In one Los Angeles jail - the notoriously brutal Twin Towers - mentally ill patients are recognised in the jail by their special yellow shirts and the capital M on their name tags.
These prisoners are often homeless people who have become mentally ill by life or they are alcoholics. Or they have chronic medical conditions which cannot be treated because Ronald Reagan closed all the hospitals in favour of "care in the community".
Since Peter Mandelson has been out of a top New Labour job he has had to be content with a much smaller arena for his special brand of politicking.
Recently Mandelson has allegedly tried to oust the editor of a small newspaper based in his constituency. Harry Blackwood, editor of the Hartlepool Mail, accused Mandelson of using his influence and friends in high places to nobble the newspaper's owner. Mandelson didn't like it when the newspaper supported the successful candidate in a recent mayoral election - H'Angus, Hartlepool FC's mascot. Labour's candidate for the job could apparently not get a look in. Of course the mayoral election was a farce. But then we have the architects of New Labour democracy - and therefore Mandelson himself - to blame for that.
Boo hoo hoo
Clare Short does a sterling job for Tony Blair. As the Government's official hand wringer and crocodile tear shedder her job is to ensure the Government can put up a show of humanity.
When 1.5 million people marched through London to protest against war, she said "Congratulations I'm with you. We need UN backing... definitely, yes, um." She even said "I could resign you know, yes, um". But after many sleepless nights etc. she decided not to vote with the rebel MPs on the issue, but... vote with the Government.
Which way to turn?
Workers' Power's continuing drive for the Stupidest Group on the Left 2003 award continues in overdrive. They have produced a new poster with the following demands:
- a global general strike (date, demands, duration, exact purpose etc., unspecified, but it seems to be something to do with the prospect of war on Iraq)
- blockade the streets (ditto)
- call people's assemblies.
They seem to have made a ultra-left turn towards calling for other people to leave their factories and sit in the roads, while maintaining a right-wing adaptation to the SWP's popular frontism. All in the same piece of A3 paper!
In fact these posters are so politically incoherent, so fantastical, there must be a good chance they are fakes. So we would urge readers who might see such posters to phone the WP office immediately.
From Leeds to, er, Kiev
The Ukrainian Workers' Tendency writes: "During the Kiev anti-war rally of 15 February, the Communist Struggle group (close to CPGB) attacked us in their leaflet as the 'obstacle to uniting the communist movement'. Apart from the Ukrainian comrades, they also attacked the Alliance for Workers' Liberty and, in particular, comrade Sean Matgamna."
At last! International celebrity!