Wednesday, March 17, 2004

the late blood & treasure
Everyone else seems to have got to this first, but no matter.

WHAT do you give someone who’s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit?

An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if you’re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in British prisons.

On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn’t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets

I saw this early on via Nick Barlow, and wanted to say something at the time. But frankly, I couldn't think of anything that would meet the sheer depravity of it. If words fail, then perhaps new words are needed. Back during the dirty war in Argentina in the seventies, the local papers used to round up the preceding night's tally of kidnappings, assassinations, bombings, extra-judicial executions and general mayhem in a column down one side of the front page, under the general title "guerillerismo".

I hereby propose that any expecially crass, morally stunted piece of authoritarian legal bullying of the kind that makes one ashamed of one's nationality be henceforth known as Blunkettismo. Let his name live on in infamy.