Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Ken Clarke snubbed campaigners for penal reform last week who are fighting to ‘spare women from prison’. Sophie Willett from The Howard League for Penal Reform wrote this piece for Leftfootforward.

Willett’s explains that it was five months before the government responded to Baroness Corston’s report on women in in the penal system, and then flatly rejected the recommendations to speed up the closure of women’s prisons. Clarke also rejected calls for the appointment of a ‘Women’s justice Champion’ – an appointment which would help women to turn their lives around.

It would be a logical step to at least review female incarceration, and if he did he would soon see the types of crime women commit do not make them dangerous to society and therefore incarceration is not the most effective or useful (in terms of preventing further re offending) method of punishment.

I also wrote a post on this earlier in the week which you can read here. I hope the Justice Secretary wakes up to the issue of female incarceration before we have an even bigger problem on our hands.

Despite my frustrations at the Justice Secretary I was pleased to see that the Government is rightly tackling issue of over sexualised music video content and placing tighter regulations on music videos. The government is also proposing to provide a portal for parents to complain about products which they consider to be inappropriate for their children.

The report criticises the premature sexualisation of children and regardless of what political persuasion you are is something which we should all be supportive of. You can read more on this here.

Reading this week that the first female editor (Jill Abramson) had been appointed to the New York Times was a mixed emotion. Of course I am delighted to see a female editor of a highly influential and long established internationally recognised newspaper. But it reminded me of the pitiful number of female editors who edit our national papers. Would anyone like to guess how many female editors there are editing our national papers?

The answer is two. Yes there are just two female editors out of 21 national daily and Sunday titles. Both – Tina Weaver at the Sunday Mirror and Dawn Neeson of the Daily Star – edit tabloids. You can read more on this pitiful state of affairs here.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

It was quite a week in which to highlight women’s rights or rather the lack of it.  

The week didn’t begin well with some startling comments from Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and then we heard the news that the number of women claiming out-of-work benefits has hit its highest level since 1996, with public sector job cuts starting to bite last month.

Not only that but the government is making life even more difficult for single mothers whose children are aged seven or above in an ill thought out attempt to encourage single mothers into the workforce.

Instead of positively encouraging mothers to get back into the workplace its policy pushed the figures of the number of women claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) up, as they are stripped of income support once their children turn seven.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 474,000 women were receiving JSA in April.

According to the broad International Labour Organisation measure, there was a rise of 12,400 in the more timely claimant count last month – with more than three-quarters of the increase among women.

It was the 10th consecutive month in which the number of women claiming out-of-work benefits had increased – although there are still more than twice as many men, 994,000, receiving JSA.

The Department for Work and Pensions said part of the rise resulted from rule changes that have seen single mothers shifted on to employment benefits to encourage them to look for a job. The full story is here.

Hundreds of women marched on Parliament to demonstrate against the government’s decision to raise the state pension age to 66 six years earlier than planned.

The protestors converged to demand the government altered its plans to raise the state pension age for women to 66 six years earlier than previously planned.

The event was organised by Age UK who are concerned at the rushed nature of the proposals which will not give women enough time to plan and therefore will plunge scores into poverty, it claims.

Many of the women affected are either carers or in poor health, meaning that working for longer is not an option, Age UK says. It hopes the protest will increase pressure on MPs to vote against the state pension increase.  Details of the campaign can be found on Age UKs website here.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Another week and another clash with Europe, this time it was over the issue of human rights legislation. Britain’s most senior judges have warned that new legislation threatens “the way the entire system of criminal justice in this country works”. They have warned that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected fundamental rules of criminal evidence enacted by Parliament to ensure that criminals do not escape conviction. You can read the full story here.

Whatever the case the ECHR is unpopular here because the Conservative led government is unhappy with many of its rulings. However, I was not surprised that the Government will seek to reform the relationship between the ECHR and national parliaments when it assumes chairmanship of the Council of Europe in November. It follows controversial rulings on sex offenders and votes for prisoners. I blogged on both of these at the time and am more in agreement with the ECHR than the Con-Dems on both these issues.

The usually pro-European Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that the government intended to scrutinise the UK’s relationship with the ECHR following calls from a large number of Conservative backbenchers for the UK to walk away from the ECHR because they are unhappy with its rulings. However, once again these little England Tories show a huge lack of understanding of the ECHR. You can read more on this here.