Policy, Prison Population and Post-Trauma Stress in the UK

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The BBC reported today that 10% of the UK’s prison population is made up of former servicemen. Yet more evidence of the failure of this government to recognise the benefits of a joined-up approach and, at a more basic level, to live up to its duty of care to the men and women who serve in our armed forces. Follow-on reports – possibly aimed at promoting a new book on the Expenses scandal – also refers to moonlighting servicemen and -women struggling to earn extra cash to pay for better personal equipment. Please tell me this is fiction ! No response yet from the government who may, to be fair, be ignoring what could be self-serving puff. With party season upon a jaded public, there are no signs of substantial intellect being employed by politicians of any persuasion.

With the possible exception of the lame-duck Liberal-Democrats, the parties are in a frenzy of fabricating soundbite pronouncements on their ‘intentions’ – a million miles away from actually crafting real policies for the next election. Whilst the Lib-Dems seem to have one or two credible nuggets, they still suffer from the feeble factor (lack of any real chance of contributing to the make-up of the next Parliament). The sight of Jeremy Paxman giving up on professional questioning and just lambasting the likes of Vince Cable on Newsnight illustrates the degree to which they are not seen as having any chance of forming the next government. This despite Clegg’s avowed dream of being the next PM and Cable being the only politician to float some imaginative and considered policy options.

So nothing yet from any party on the war in Afghanistan, the plight of our men and women in the field and the existence of a realistic, rounded and recognisable strategy. Even the obvious economic impact – the prison overpopulation reports neatly demonstrating the crossovers in policy failures – will not encourage the leaders to ditch their PR approach to politics and do that old-fashioned thinking thing. No signs then that the depths to which politics in the UK – and Britain’s reputation abroad – have plumbed are prompting a fresh approach. Shame.

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