run, run, as fast as you can

The fact has broken over me that our justice system in England is not so different from the widely admired system active in Russia, where ‘dissidents’ are locked up on invented charges and then murdered.

‘The inquest into the death in prison of a man convicted of stealing a gingerbread man during the riots in 2011 opens in London on Monday. James Best, 37, had a history of mental illness and physical problems, which his foster family say were not addressed by the prison.’

We have a few dissidents here as well of course – and not all of them recently murdered Russians – and the Home Secretary (what a good title for a woman that is) expends a great deal of spittle in the attempt to deport some of them to face torture in their country of origin. But British Nationals involved in the exemplary looting of parts of London and elsewhere in 2011 were themselves awarded grotesque and exemplary punishments in order to make the point that even a stale gingerbread man has the protection of the law, perhaps more protection than the mentally ill.

It is of course well known that some large percentage of British prisoners suffer from mental health problems, perhaps even a majority if we include those with ‘learning difficulties’. That these problems are not addressed or even taken into account is scarcely a surprise, the prison system being as it is a revolving door warehousing facility for all manner of the socially maladapted. This particular story is notable however in its gathering together of various concerns – the violent, unjustified and indeed brutal reaction of the justice system to the 2011 riots, the increasing lack of care for the disadvantaged in society, the damaging effect of the prison system on its inmates whose problems are not addressed and whose alienation, hopelessness and indeed criminality is only reinforced by the experience of incarceration. More salutary still is the final, irrevocable outcome of it all: the unjustified and unnecessary death of a vulnerable individual in the hands of the State Security apparatus.

It reminds me of that blessed state of affairs that once pertained in our noble and freedom-loving country under which a man could be hanged for stealing a sheep or failing that and given a shortage of rope sent to Australia to steal a whole country from black men. We are not so far away from that now under this ruthless, under-elected and self-righteous government, wherein the evil stench of a decaying morality pervades the air, corroding all it touches. Using the excuse of financial necessity as a cover they reduce taxes on the rich, punish and denigrate the poor, harass and even persecute the disabled and impose a hideously distorted morality, a politics both of greed and envy they dress up as fairness. I have lived under some miserable and mean-minded governments but never before under one as plainly wicked as this.

So, my advice to all you would-be rioters out there is this :- “Run, run as fast as you can, but don’t catch me, I’m a gingerbread man.”


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