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Day: August 17, 2011

Locking rioters up will only serve to make the divisions in society worse – far worse

The rioting or wanton criminality that we saw last last week (whatever you want to call it) was both disturbing and horrifying. Plenty of people got involved who were just along for the ride and they deserve some sort of punishment. However we are seeing sentences that I personally deem disproportionate and down right unfair.

Take for the example the two eejits who got four years for Facebook posts. Yes just posting on Facebook trying to organise some criminality gets four years. Look I know these two guys are complete pillocks and probably deserve some jail time (although I can easily be persuaded that they don’t need to see the inside of a jail cell and that spending a year or two doing community service would be far more valuable to the community than having them locked up inside) but four years considering people get less – a lot less for actually doing things including violent crimes – heck even death due to careless driving can get less. Killing someone can get you less time in jail than a bit of idiotic Facebook action. Are we freaking serious?

That disgusts me but the following I actually find far more troublesome and worrying and that is the amount of people being held on remand. To me that is terrifying. Remand should be for the safety of the public or in most circumstances to ensure a defendant cannot get to and intimidate the witnesses. Essentially it is putting people in jail even though they have not done any wrong in the eyes of the law as yet and it should be used sparingly. I read somewhere the other day that it is usually around 10% of those charged for offences deemed serious enough for crown court are put on remand but that so far we are seeing nearer 67% of those charged for offences during these riots are going on remand. That is crazy.

I know many think I’m far too lightweight on crime. I’m not. I just like to think of ways to combat crime not only in the short term but also the long term. I also don’t like seeing people in jail cells who haven’t been convicted of any crime. I know in some cases there are real reasons for remand and I accept that but can I accept that 67% of those charged in the past week need to be on remand? Quite simply No. No I cannot.

You are without a doubt putting innocent people inside. Sadly that is a fact of life. Our judicial system is far from perfect but the amount of people being put on remand for offences during these riots are causing me a deep sense of unease. I know it is cool at the moment to hate on all these people but remember first of all every case needs to be tried on its merits on an individual basis. This isn’t guilt by association and we shouldn’t convict that way. I know people want stiff sentences but will stiff sentences lead to less crime in the future? Is locking up morons for a while with hardened criminals really going to help or will it lead to more lives of crime?

I know what my money is on.

David Cameron thinks that society is broken because people are selfish and have no morals but it’s not. There are bad eggs in every generation and every so often they will come to the fore. Most people are good people and that small percentile of bad eggs should not taint the whole of society. I suspect there are far more racists and sexists out there than those who are involved in criminality from dysfunctional backgrounds. Yet we gloss over casual racism and sexism as they are accepted and we go after the most front and centre problem. The problem is we are not all treated equal is every facet of society. When we treat the mentally ill with the same dignity as we treat Mensa members then we’ll be going in the right direction. When we treat the wheelchair bound the same as we do Olympic athletes then we’ll be going in the right direction. When we treat people with different coloured skin and different accents the same as we treat the person who has never left his or her home village then we’ll be going in the right direction.

Society isn’t broken because of what the M thinks. It is broken because of a lack of respect and that is something that many adults teach their kids. Until everyone teaches and preaches that we are all born equal – every single one of us – then people will be even more prejudiced and society will never be a utopian one. Going after troublemakers with a heavy hand now will only cause further rifts between communities and whilst short term the tension may decrease – long term it will bubble up and be even far worse.

David Cameron is so short sighted on this one it frightens me. It frightens me a lot and I hope and pray (figure of speech – I don’t pray) that the Liberal Democrats in this coalition will loudly and proudly stick their heads above water and cool this one down. Locking people up is rarely the answer and is this case it really isn’t. Until people believe they belong then they’ll have little respect. Locking them up won’t make them feel like they belong at all and that my friends will only go and make this a whole lot worse for the next generation that comes through.

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Grant Coleman – an inspiration to someone he’s never met or probably even heard of


I suspect only a handful of people who ever stumbles across my blog will even know who Grant Coleman is. Well for those that don’t he was Sports Editor at BBC Radio Solent for what seemed like my whole childhood. He often got accused of being a Southampton fan but Pompey fans and vice versa by Southampton fans. Bournemouth fans just thought he hated them. Oh the joys of being in charge of sport for a station with three league clubs.

When I first used to listen to BBC Radio Solent’s sports show they didn’t have any live commentary of either Saints, Pompey or the Cherries but in time they slowly started doing games. First it was the odd second half here and there and then they would broadcast the biggest game of the day from the three clubs. Then slowly they split the frequencies so they could broadcast more than one live match at a time and as we stand today all three clubs will have every game live on some part of the BBC Radio Solent frequency.

I haven’t lived in the BBC Radio Solent region since 2002 and in all honesty once I became a Season Ticket holder at Fratton Park the amount of games I listened to on either Solent (or 107.4 The Quay) went down dramatically. I’d go watch Newport IoW if they were at home or often even follow them away as well. When Jeff and the boys started to really get Soccer Saturday going I’d watch that although I’d still listen to the Pompey games online. These days I don’t bother and if I’m in I’m usually just watching Jeff and the boys.

However this is now and I’m talking about then. Portsmouth Football Club was a significant part of my world for many years. These days less so but they’ll still always be my club. In the late 90s the club were on the verge of going to the wall and I truly believe that three men were huge parts in why they didn’t go under and that the club survived. Everyone knows about Alan Ball. Just a great man and words cannot describe what Portsmouth fans feel for the man. The next is Tom Burton who was the administrator appointed to oversee the club. It was him who managed the purse strings enough to both keep the club up and secondly get the club sold on. Then there is Grant Coleman.

Grant Coleman as Sports Editor at BBC Radio Solent kept the club very much in the news and his passion for the club shone through. The year of the Great Escape in 1998 is something no PFC fan will ever forget. That game away to Crewe Alexandra where it all started down 3-0 and ABBAWA rang out loud and proud. Three days the later the now infamous Stockport County game where there were nearly four million fans inside Fratton Park (if you believe everyone who said they were there) but in all honesty I think it was just under 9,000 if my memory serves me right. I was listening at home that night and the atmosphere was insane and Grant Coleman couldn’t believe it.

We would fight on and somehow took it to the final day of the season. We had to win at Bradford and if we did we were safe whatever happened in the Stoke City v Manchester City game. Behind this link is the three goals from Grant Coleman that day (with Alan Knight in the background). A truly great day but it was Grant Coleman to whom I aspired to be. A good man running sports at local radio. Kind of a humble aspiration no?

Well those dreams have faded and life as they say has moved on but when I made my live football radio commentary debut last weekend I couldn’t help to think back to the man I aspired to be. Doing some internet research it seems as though he lives in Spain now working for the Olympics Host Broadcaster out of Madrid. Doesn’t seem like a bad gig. However I just want it out there that he was the man who made me want to be on radio covering football. I doubt he’ll ever read this but I just want it out there. There are plenty of people who have inspired me in my life but very few of those are people I’ve never even spoken to but he is certainly one of them.

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My Total Politics Awards Votes go to…

The jury has deliberated and here are the results of The Rambles of Neil Monnery panel:

The following blogs got votes:

Caron’s Musings

No brainer. Caron is a fine blogger and doesn’t just focus on politics (any F1 blog of hers will certainly get my trigger finger on the hyperlink) but it is her politics stuff that gets her this vote. Blogs often and varies it from the mundane to the opinion-filled. It is how I like my blogs. A little bit of everything.

Political Parry

Most people would think Kel and myself wouldn’t get on. Most people think I hate all feminists. Kel is a feminist. However we do get on and her political viewpoint is about as akin to mine as I know. Her blogs very often mirror what I’m thinking in my head – just with less swear words and more clever words. I think this proves a) I don’t hate all feminists and b) I don’t hate all feminists.

Olly Grender @ The New Statesman

If you don’t know why Olly’s on this list then I suspect you don’t do political blogging of any sort.

Liberal Burblings

Probably the biggest surprise (to me) on this list. When filling out my voting form and thinking about blogs I visit more often than other I realised that I go here quite often. If I do then that surely means I’m interested in what the author has to say.

Liberal England

I like this blog because it is a good mix of short punchy pieces and the odd rant. Also again is isn’t just partizan BS all the way through.

Solution Focused Politics

The biggest surprise (to me) on this list. I don’t know the author at all hardly and don’t think I’ve ever really interacted with him but I find myself when scanning through Lib Dem Blogs clicking on his pieces more often than I don’t. Says everything.

Welcome to Spiderplant Land

Hands up who thought I was voting for this blog? Anyone? Exactly. Well I filled out my voting form based on what blogs I read most and not on personality. Whatever I think about some of her political stances her blog is one of the better ones out there and provokes more discussion than most and whatever you think about it – isn’t that a big part of the blogosphere?

Lib Dem Voice

Yeah not exactly a shock. Good starting point for Liberal Democrat views on a variety of topics.

You can vote for your favourite political bloggers behind that link but if you haven’t checked out any of the blogs I’ve mentioned I think you’d be well advised to do so at some point.

Note: I didn’t vote for David Allen Green @ The New Statesman due to me seeing it not as a political blog in the main. If I did that blog would also of seen a high vote given to it from this jury.

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