Reports of Ken Clarke’s arrest have been greatly exaggerated. On reading the by-line “An activist for campaign group ”New Fathers 4 Justice” has tried to ”arrest” Justice Secretary Ken Clarke at his home.” my spirits were momentarily lifted – a superhero has swooped in, grabbed the unwieldy Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill 2011 and hurled it out of our orbit, to drift like so much space junk through the stars.
But no. *sighs*
It was just another bloke in an ill-fitting batman suit, lobbing ill-fitting complaints at an apparently ill-tempered “Injustice Secretary” (not a great villainy epithet but it’ll do). Superman came along, and dressed up as a paparazzo (Gotta find work where you can – not much call for flying geeks with a kryptonite allergy in today’s job market).
Ken “the joker” Clarke fought back with a few off the cuff ripostes which easily swotted away the caped crusader’s punchy words: when challenged as to the failure of the press to report the contents of the interim family justice review report, and when criticised for the contents of that report (a report that Mr Clarke had neither commissioned nor written, and which contains the preliminary recommendations of an independent committee which the Government seems set to ignore in any event) the lightning fast Ken stingingly reported that it was “not regarded as newsworthy” and nothing to do with him. Which is in many respects a fair point, even if it does disclose rather more about Ken’s attitude to the Norgrove Committee than he may have intended.
“Fathers have been let down by this Tory-led report and it’s time to take our gloves off, roll up our sleeves and expose this corruption,” a spokesman for New Fathers 4 Justice apparently said. “They promised us a presumption of contact yet we get no real change. Dads are lining up to climb roofs again and cause whatever disruption is necessary to highlight this injustice.”
Bless that Bruce Wayne, you can put some slinky pants on top of his hosiery, but he’s still not the sharpest tool in the box. He’s all over the shop with out Alfred to keep him on track (blame the working time directive – it was his day off).
The Norgrove Review is not a tory-led report and may well not be followed by them, depending on what suits their political ends at the time (it’ll probably be filleted and cherry picked and garnished with chopped mixed metaphors). It was in fact set up by labour in the dying days of the former government. The committee is not due to report finally until later in the year, the subject of complaint is an interim report only. Consultation on the proposals made in it has just closed. It does not suggest a change in the law to include a presumption of contact, although it does recommend some strengthening work to the legislation. Ker-pow? Ker-splat.
I don’t know. Superheroes are a scarce resource in these days of austerity. Gotham have made Batman redundant and Superman has hit hard times, and they’ve come over the pond to scrounge off our luxurious welfare state (Bad timing chaps). But even economic migrant superheroes are a resource to be husbanded carefully, to be targeted wisely. Many of us would like to arrest the progress of Ken Clarke’s Legal Aid reforms; and there is much to criticise in the coalition’s handling of justice issues. This however, was not Batman’s finest hour. Back to the bat cave lads.
NB I have made a point of not watching the 3 minute video that is available for delectation, on the basis that reading the account of the events and being confronted with the various sartorial offences apparent from the still images in The Telegraph was excruciating enough. Do please report below if anything intelligent and / or newsworthy was uttered by any of those present other than the gems noted by The Telegraph.