Sunday, July 09, 2006

How to find the missing prisoners

Large numbers of dangerous prisoners are in our midst and (surprise surprise) the Home Office can't/wont do much about it. I suspect that a simple way to round up most of these fugitives would be to run a check on how many of them are claiming welfare benefits. I recently asked the DWP what checks they make to ensure that new claiments have not escaped from prison. The response was that they didn't know but would try to find out and come back to me. I am still waiting so I think we can safely assume that checks are not made and that rather than hiding out in the wilds somewhere many escapees are openly residing in their former abodes and cheerfully cashing their dole cheques each week.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

In Israel the other week an English radio station rang my mobile phone desperate for me to go to the nearest landline for an immediate interview on the Government’s prison policy. I politely informed the presenter that it would be difficult as I was standing on the Israeli-Lebanese border with the army overlooking a Lebanese village held by the fanatical Hezbollah militia. Undeterred and uninterested she insisted that the sound quality was good enough to go ahead using the mobile. Asking my military escort for a bottle of water I was instead given a can of lager and between slurps I managed to conduct the interview. Looking back I realise that this was one the most bizarre situations I have experienced in seven years of politics.