Tony Blair on the criminal justice system

Tony Blair on parenting and respect:  speech at Watford, 2 September 2005: 

… new laws can’t do it all, in the end they only deal with consequences, but they can signal a new approach and a new determination on the part of the majority that it is time to reassert ourselves.  In turn however I believe this only happens if the criminal justice system and its culture also changes. And here is where I want to say something, and I think people may find it difficult but I believe is fundamental to trying to tackle this, the criminal justice system that we have in this country still asks first and foremost, how do we protect the accused from potential transgressions of the state or the police?  That is the attitude that the criminal justice system has at its heart, is really that. And I think the first question should be:  how do we protect the majority from the dangerous and irresponsible minority?  In other words, I put that question round the other way, and a criminal justice system that is not doing the latter, in other words protecting the majority and protecting their right to have respect from other people when they are showing that respect towards them is a criminal justice system that isn’t in fact just, and that is the problem that we have. [My emphasis — BLB]

Does our prime minister, a qualified barrister, really believe that “the criminal justice system that we have in this country still asks first and foremost, how do we protect the accused from potential transgressions of the state or the police”?  Was he speaking from a prepared script that included this extraordinary assertion, or was he on autopilot and uttering the first words that came into his head as likely to go down well with the Daily Mail?  Either way, does he really believe it – and, worse, see it as a useful starting-point for a considered reform of our justice system?  Pretty disturbing, if so.

BlairWatford_1.jpg< Tony Blair at Watford

Michael Portillo’s weekly Sunday Times column on 11 September 2005 was headed:  ‘There is a Tory Blair, but it’s not David Cameron’.  No, it’s Tony Blair.

Brian

1 Response

  1. Brian,
    I don’t know where to start!
    But your Daily Mail jibe may be closer to the mark than you think.
    This is Melanie Phillips’ Mail piece in May 2003.

    In particular, the remarks by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf about the disadvantages of imprisonment, the fact that many murderers can be freed within a few years and the perception that the rights of criminals seem to count for more than the rights of their victims, have understandably enraged many people.

    So as Mr Blunkett rightly argues, the judges have stepped
    seriously out of line with public opinion, with a resulting dangerous loss of confidence in the justice system.

    t

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