Socialist Worker

Gun from Iraq makes a hero, but kids with knives go to jail

Published Tue 4 Dec 2012
Issue No. 2332


Sergeant Danny Nightingale became the hero of the press last week for illegally possessing a firearm.

The SAS sniper had a Glock pistol and 300 rounds of ammunition he’d been given as a war trophy in Iraq.

But he was released from jail on Thursday of last week in what newspapers such as The Sun and the Daily Mail claimed as a victory for their campaigning.

Not all those who carry weapons are treated with the same understanding.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling has announced mandatory jail sentences for anyone “wandering around with a knife in a threatening way”.

He quickly added that “it doesn’t apply if you’re caught bringing a Stanley knife back from B&Q”. So anyone who carries a knife would be well-advised to carry a receipt too.

The sentence would be from six months to four years. Going off this spring’s figures, that could have meant more than 3,000 extra people—mostly young and mostly poor—going to jail.

Even 16 and 17 year olds face four months in detention centres. There’s no evidence that this will make the streets any safer, but it will wreck thousands of lives to placate the government’s most right-wing supporters.

Labour at least has spoken out against the policy—saying it is too soft because cops and judges could still decide someone hasn’t been threatening enough to go down.

“Chris Grayling likes to portray himself as a ‘tougher’ justice secretary compared to his ‘weak’ predecessor Ken Clarke,” taunted hard man shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan.

“However, all of today’s announcements were policies of Ken Clarke, with which Chris Grayling now seems quite happy to be associated.” We await the Sun’s crusade for justice.


Transparent black

Brentwood council in Essex boasts of its “reputation as one of the most transparent councils in the country”. Last week it put its money where its mouth was, with a response as thick as a phone book to a freedom of information request concerning a land deal.

Too bad nearly all of its 425 pages had been redacted with black rectangles covering the key information.


Bottle bank

Bankers have been hitting the bottle to cope with the fact that everyone hates them, according to one counselling service.

Richard Kingdon of City Beacon said there had been a 20 percent increase in traders seeking help, particularly for drug and alcohol abuse. “No one—and no company—wants to admit there’s a problem,” he said.


And the booby prize is… David Cameron

When Downing Street agreed to donate a prize for a dementia charity’s Christmas raffle, organiser Peter Smith was thrilled. But instead of a hamper or dinner set, all he got was a signed photo of David Cameron.

“This picture of David Cameron looks a bit like a joke,” said Peter. “I cannot think of anyone who would actually want it.”

Instead of being the star attraction, the unappealing PM’s fate is now to be the booby prize.


Christmas reading for MPs

Meanwhile MPs can look forward to somewhat better presents, Troublemaker can reveal. Campaign group Liberty is sending a copy of the book Cruel Britannia by Ian Cobain to every MP for Christmas.

The book exposes the British government’s collusion in torture over many decades. A good read—but some MPs will learn little that they haven’t already tried to cover up.


Super-rich create jobs… for butlers

A Boom in demand is creating jobs in the neglected sector of butlery. One agency has found jobs for 430 butlers this year—twice as many as last year and four times the year before.

“We have never experienced demand like we have seen this year,” said company director Sara Vestin Rahmani. “There is a significant trend for the super-rich to want a piece of the kind of lifestyle they see in movies and on programmes like Downton Abbey.”

Perhaps the Tories could try reviving other Victorian trades to boost the economy. Sweeping chimneys for workfare, anyone?

Meanwhile he first ever national survey of domestic workers in the US reveals that half of them earn less than £3.80 an hour.

Many migrant workers said they’d had to silently put up with physical and verbal abuse for fear of being deported.


MP accuses the ‘platinum commander’

Former police boss Sir Norman Bettison has been accused of dealing in stolen precious metals. Bettison is best known for trying to cover up the role of the police in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster that killed 96 Liverpool football fans.

Now John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, claims that CCTV footage from 1987 shows Bettison and another man trying to sell a “large quantity” of platinum wire to Sheffield firm Johnson Matthey. Mann says the matter was referred to South Yorkshire Police, but no action was taken.


Officials feast as lobbying goes nuclear

The department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has boosted the dangerous and expensive nuclear power industry. Its energy bill was passed in the House of Commons on Thursday of last week.

Nuclear bosses have been returning the favour. The three most senior officials in DECC’s office for nuclear development have been repeatedly wined and dined by industry representatives.

The dozens of meetings with hospitality included some of London’s plushest hotels, restaurants and private members’ clubs.


Article information

The Troublemaker
Tue 4 Dec 2012, 18:15 GMT
Issue No. 2332
Share this article



Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.