Saturday, November 10, 2007

ITV Gets Aitken Story Wrong

ITN should hang its collective head in shame. On their Saturday night news bulletin they just reported the following...

Disgraced former Tory Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken is going to be advising the Conservative Party on prison reform... He will be heading up a policy group which will report to David Cameron."

Er. Bollocks. He's been asked to do it by the Centre for Social Justice, which is an independent think tank, chaired by Iain Duncan Smith. It has no formal links with the Tory Party whatsoever. This type of sloppiness is just not acceptable from one of Britain's leading news organisations.

Having said all that, even if he were advising the Tory Party on prison reform I'd welcome it. Having interviewed Jeffrey Archer on the subject, he too would have some interesting ideas to feed in. The prisons issue is a key one for the next Conservative government to address so the more people looking into the issue now, the better. The CSJ should be congratulated on this initiative. One thing I hope they address is the categories of people who should actually be in prison.


Anonymous said...

Any reasonable Conservative considering prison reform would be mad if he or she did not consult Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer.


' ... the Centre for Social Justice, which is an independent think tank, chaired by Iain Duncan Smith. It has no formal links with the Tory Party whatsoever'

does sound like an echo of remarks defending the Smith Institute. I am sure that this organisation is simply lovely in all respects, but it would be nice to know more about its status.

Anonymous said...

The Tory party have shot themselves in the foot having anything to do with that slimebag Aitken. He reminds many voters of the old days of Tory sleaze which is a great pity because Labour are increasingly being associated with it, particularly under Brown.

Move on. Dump Aitken and Archer. They are bad news for the Tories.

Anonymous said...

Aitken and Archer were rich, privileged men at the centre of government who lied for their own advantage.

They have regained their liberty but not their credibility, as far as the public at large is concerned.

Whereas Profumo later earned almost universal respect for his self-effacing contribution to others, the obituaries of these two would still dwell on their obsessively self-regarding nature.

There is no point in sacking candidates for praising Powell, who was never convicted of any offence, only to promote links with Aitken.

This is not the Tory party shooting itself in the foot but shooting itself in the head.

Just shows why IDS didn't last 5 minutes as leader.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion that should go top of the list of those that should be doing stir without question and at least 10 years of it.

Any politician telling a known self interested porky that can not be proved to be in the national interest, including inflating the paper clip expenses.

Should be subjected to 24 hours in the stocks. Followed by a mandatory 10 years prison sentence. Followed by disqualification for life from holding a passport or any payed employment ever again.

If the silver spooned buggers dont want to take the risk I and I am sure many others will be very happy to.

I would donate 50% of my entire wages back to the tax payers from where it was stolen. I would also give up my business and promise on a stack of bibles 10 feet high never to tell any lies for the rest of my life. Unless peoples lives depended on it.

But you are a paranoid fool not qualified to run a country I can here some say.

The answer is; A fool and a paranoid one at that I may be. But prime ministers do not run the country, the civil service does.

The only role of a prime minister is being a gentleman salesperson who the public should only trust to not do, or allow to be done, anything deliberately against the peoples common interests.

There is nothing else a Prime Minister can do or should do or be trusted to do.

However Cameron is a class act that I would love to see have a go at it. He has the makings of a political giant that could tower over even Thatcher. I dont think I have ever seen a man born with more gods given talent for the job then him EVER. Just his incredible sublime gifts for communication alone is worth all the cash and then some.

Oh yes and any politician embarrassing the nation by picking his nose in public and EATING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Should get 50 lashes and deported to another planet without trial.

Tameside Eye said...

Considering both got an easy time in jail I don't think their experience would prove much use unless they are to recommend that prison is to get a lot harsher!

Honestly why can't the tories come out of the closet themselves and bring back corporal punishment?

Chris Paul said...

Amazing. Clearly Policy Xchange had to fight off accusations of being a partisan organisation. And The Smith Institute. Now the "Centre for Social Justice" chaired by IDS and stuffed full of Tory folk and proudly paraded by the Tories as and when is claiming to be "independent"?

Oh give over Iain. ITV - and all the others, like The Observer this morning - may interpret things a little differently from your good self. But "wrong"? I don't think that's worthy.

PS Corporal Punishment Tameside?

beaubodor said...

"One thing I hope they address is the categories of people who should actually be in prison."

categories = class ?

Gavin said...

Jonathan Aitken ought to have the good sense to stay well clear of any possible connection, no matter how tenuous, to politics and to the conservative party.
Although I think that (quite unlike Archer, whose outlook seems to have remained the same as it always was) Aitken's public humiliation and disgrace brought about a genuine turning point in his personal life, nevertheless, to the wider public (and certainly to the media) his name will always be held up as an example of 1990's "tory sleaze". As such, he should not seek any sort of role in influencing public affairs. Aitken himself ought to realise this, and David Cameron must act to prevent it happening. That's my view.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the face of the new Conservative Party, a sleazy old liar.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be two steps forward and then blast a foot off with the Conservatives at the moment.

This announcement was always going to be a stick that labour and the left-leaning press would use to beat us.

We need to completely sever ourselves from the Aitkens and Archers of the world if we're going to move on in the minds of the electorate.

You could make a similar argument for John Redwood aswell tbh.

Anonymous said...

Iain, your throw-away reference to the 'categories of people who should actually be in prison' alarms me.

I do hope you haven't fallen for the line, which we hear so often from the left, that there are hundreds of people in prison for whom 'custody is inappropiate'.

The courts already lean over backwards to avoid sending people to prison. Those in custody for relatively minor crimes are almost invariably serial offenders; people who have been given non-custodial sentences time and time again, but persist in crime, often because they have found they can get away with it. They are in prison because everything else has been tried, and failed.

There is a strong (but deeply unfashionable) argument for giving thieves, etc. a short prison sentence (e.g. 21 days) at a much earlier stage in their criminal career. This is what we did 100 years ago when real poverty was rife but the level of crime was a fraction of what it is now.

Anonymous said...

This has just been reported on the BBC breakfast news as Aitken making a political comeback.
We then had a reporter explaining all the background and the fact that this was an independent think-tank appointment. He ended by saying: "However, opponents of the Conservative Party will see this as a political comeback."


Anonymous said...

Perhaps we could have a competition to define the categories of people who should actually be in prison.

Can I suggest, as one category, systemically incompetent people who are nominally in charge of major public organisations. The Metropolitan Police "service" comes to mind, although I am sure there are many other examples.

Anonymous said...

Dave the Plumber should make sure that the Conservative Party keeps well away from the likes of Aitken and Archer. They have done enough damage to the party image.

Windsor Tripehound said...

The responses on here, and by the odious Rushbridger on the radio, say more about the attitudes of of the "intellectual" left than about Aitken.

Anonymous said...

"Jonathan Aitken, the disgraced former Tory cabinet minister who was jailed for perjury, will be rehabilitated into the political frontline tomorrow ...
in one of the most spectacular comebacks in recent British political history, which meets with the approval of senior members of the shadow cabinet..."

Surely this is just the sort of thing Andy Coulson should have suppressed ruthlessly. Whoever thought it was a good idea?

Anonymous said...

I am annoyed at the way these people (Archer, Aitken, et al) keep popping up in the public eye. Journalists love them. Everyone else despises them.

As a trade union leader* said many years ago, in a different context, "They should be treated with total ignoral."

(*not John Prescott.)

Anonymous said...

Aitken - what a player! A man so contemptible that he was prepared to risk sending his wife and young daughter to jail for perjurying themselves on his behalf.
Still, it's all okay because he's an eloquent, telegenic Tory toff. Sorry, I meant has fully repented of his crimes and has wide experience of the penal system. Er, that'll be the holiday camp that is Ford Open Prison.

Anonymous said...

Tom Tyler said "David Cameron must act to prevent it happening."

This from the Times : "David Cameron picks former Tory cabinet minister, who went to jail for perjury, to lead prison reform study"

Anonymous said...

BBC had the same story

Anonymous said...

How fortunate for the Tories that they have such a fertile supply of formally incarcerated MPs!

Anonymous said...

trumpeter lanfried 7.34

As someone who worked in the criminal justice system for 35 years I can confirm you are absolutely correct at how the courts bend over backwards to keep even serious criminals out of jail these days.

The change from "firm but fair" to extreme leniency over the past ten years is astonishing and something the general public don't fully realise. It's one of the reasons why crime is out of control in many parts of the country.

As for the odious Aitken being brought back into the public eye, what a public relations disaster for the Tories. IDS has worked well and done a lot of good work recently but this decision is simply unbelievable.

Aitken and Archer, two festering sacks of garbage that should not be touched with a bargepole.

Barnacle Bill said...

Oh dear!
I have to agree with Annon 05:34 -
"It seems to be two steps forward and then blast a foot off with the Conservatives at the moment."
Surely someone at Conservative HQ should have realised that Aitken is still toxic waste?

Anonymous said...

The BBC seem to have removed it, but last night their tagline on the website was 'Aitken makes front bench comeback'.

I'm sure it won't take long...

Harriet Hamster said...

So this is the the same ITV that hours earlier had Dave being interviewed by the the side splitting Parky ?

Okay wheel in Lord Archer,Aitkens,Howard and
Ian Duncan Smith and have Michael Crick to chair a debate on the advantages of this CSJ appointment
Great telly .


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this shows why IDS is no longer leader.

Whatever may be the true story of Aitken's repentance, some humility would be welcome, and he should have refused the invitation.

There seem to be too many of the mentally ill dumped in prison - utterly inappropriate and cruel. In many cases a secure asylum is needed, not punishment.

hatfield girl said...

"There is no point in sacking candidates for praising Powell, who was never convicted of any offence, "

That, Anon.12.58, is because Enoch Powell would no more commit an offence, never mind be charged, than any other honourable and honest man.

Heath seized the opportunity to dismiss a better man than he could ever have been, on a trumpery of confusing form with substance; and he did it in order to close down the leading critic of his disgraceful sell- out of the country to the European Union under its then developing incarnation.
Mr Powell should have avoided using the raw emotions swilling round the Midlands on the dumping of absolute poverty into the Midlands' relative poverty and the cultural collision that was taking place, to posit one of the most contentious isues of the post Second war.
It's not a crime, not even one of your vilely newly- created thought crimes, to misjudge your audience - Mr Powell was speaking in Birmingham but was heard in London.

What Heath used that misjudgement to further by silencing Enoch Powell's voice and powerful opposition, was a crime though - the surrender of the United Kingdom's sovereignty, the last of which is about to be delivered by that Heathian doppelganger Brown.

Anonymous said...

Barnacle Bill and others

How long does one have to pay for a crime? Aitken has served his time and has acted with, in my opinion, moderation since leaving prison. I am sick and tired of him being described as "Disgraced"
he was and has paid a massive price.

Likewise John Profumo. He, it appeared, was accepted after he died, Although he did such remarkable charitable work in the East End of London.

Aitken is the right man to advise on Penal reform. It is long overdue. I believe a group made up of former prisoners and others could create a massive boost for the Tory Party. Suggest a better way to deal with prisoners within and without prison.

I, for one, would remove DRUGS from the criminal law. Allow a doctor to prescribe those that need them. Remove so many young people from the dangers of criminalisation and thus their chances for good occupations! Free so many prison places. Remove the need for those that are 'hooked' to commit crime and that would make all our streets safer. No need for pushers!


Windsor Tripehound said...

The tone of the comments here are along the lines of: "Aitken was odious; Aitken went to prison; Aitken came out of prison; Aitken is still odious"

If that's the case, then clearly prison doesn't work, and there's an urgent need for prison reform. Seems to me that along with the "experts", it's a good idea to seek the advice of a few ex-cons too.

Should IDS have included Aitken? Contrary to popular belief IDS isn't a fool and would have had a good idea of the likely response from the usual suspects. None the less he is prepared to do what he perceives to be right rather than what is expedient.

Look on the bright side; at least IDS has shown that he is capable of making a decision, as compared to "Broon" who is incapable of being decisive about anything.

Anonymous said...

Any effort to resurrect Aitken is doomed to fail and the Tory party is extremely foolish to even countenance the idea. The man is an utter creep and his claims of penitence are far from convincing.

What next? Bring back Archer?

Anonymous said...

What's the matter with you lot? You sound like Mirror readers.

Isn't 65-year-old Jonathan Aitken, who has already been punished for his wrongdoing, allowed to do anything to redeem himself? He's not an MP any more.

As soon as someone puts a foot wrong they are classed as satanic demons by the Mirror.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you are splitting hairs. The situation is as reported in the Sunday Telegraph:

"The former Conservative cabinet minister will head a policy task force for the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think tank run by Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, which advises David Cameron on social issues."

pxcentric said...

According to Mr Dale, the Centre for Social Justice, which is run by IDS, has "no formal links with the Tory Party whatsoever."

This is the organisation which the Guardian tells us "will help formulate Conservative policy", while the Telegraph reports that it "advises David Cameron on social issues."

So much for no formal links.

The real reputation for talking bollocks is closer to home than Mr Dale seems to realise.

Anonymous said...


If Aitken really wants to "redeem himself" then let him, just don't let him damage the Tory party in the process.

The sight of this smug faced conman on the television again is a real vote loser.

Anonymous said...

ethelred the hinged please go back to facebook and continue your exposition on how to be totally supportive of a foul,discredited,criminal administration. such as we have under the madscot. Shaker Brown.

pxcentric said...

The trusty sword of truth cuts both ways.

Unsworth said...

@ Anonymous 12:38

'Advises' being the operative word.

But no doubt you believe that 'advises' = 'instructs'. Perhaps this happens in other political parties.

Anonymous said...

It is very sad to see people so wrapped up in their own intolerance that all they can do is vent their visceral spite on someone who has paid dearly for his error. Jonathan Aitkin has campaigned tirelessly for prison reform (as also, incidentally, has Jeffrey Archer) and perhaps those who have corresponded so nastily on this blog would focus on the good work these ex-politicians are doing now. Perhaps these corespondents might consider helping in this work, or in other socially worthwhile endeavours.

Anonymous said...

"It seems to be two steps forward and then blast a foot off with the Conservatives at the moment."

An apt title for someone's memoirs, in due course:

"Two Steps Forward and Bang!: My Lifetime in Opposition Politics" by D.W.D. Cameron.

Anonymous said...

It is not a matter of venting visceral spite on anybody. It is a matter of political reality. The sight of Aitken's smug, self-serving visage on TV is a big potential vote loser.

This needs to be neutralised. Have the newly installed PR alarm bells in CCHQ been switched off? Maybe Andy Coulson is asleep or on holiday.

Anonymous said...

anon 1.44

So you think the two convicted conmen Aitken and Archer have done "good work" in the cause of prison reform do you.

Who was it who told you that? Aitken and Archer by any chance?

Johnny Norfolk said...

Why is it ok for Labour to bring back discredied people but not the Tories. These people like Aitken and Archer have more than paid a price and it should be welcomed when they want to serve their party country again. I hope Jeffery Archer could do the same as he has a lot to offer.
I would trust these 2 far more than most Labour government people.

Anonymous said...


Just because Labour do it doesn't mean the Tory party has to sink to their level.

The only interests Aitken and Archer are interested in IMO are their own.

The party doesn't need them, they have nothing to offer. All they do is lose votes.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that Aitken can contribute anything of value to an investigative committee on prisons. No more than any other old lag.

Gordon Brown has refused to spend money on building new prisons for the past 10 years. The problem will to a great extentr be resolved by an immediate policy change/ We need a further 15,000 prison places. Only then can we start to re-educate the criminal class.

Ned said...

Other stations preface the headline with 'Disgraced'..... unprofessional skewed reporting

Barnacle Bill said...

Yes I agree Aitken & Archer have been punished and should be re-intergrated back into society.
But with slippery two-faced eels like NuLabor around you should choose your friends very carefully.

Anonymous said...

You can't keep an old Etonian down for long.

Harriet Hamster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

BB 5.40 I thought Aitken was trying to be integrated back into the conservative party not society generally.

Why would a professional political party who wanted to win the next election shoot themselves in the foot by taking back a convicted conman?

Have the recent poll leads made them complacent already?

Anonymous said...

"Johnny Norfolk said...
Why is it ok for Labour to bring back discredied people but not the Tories. These people like Aitken and Archer have more than paid a price and it should be welcomed when they want to serve their party country again."

How many ex-jailbirds have Labour welcomed back?

Anonymous said...

Hattie Halfwit, that is the most incoherent post I have ever read.

Anonymous said...

When the Lamestream Media start referring to "the twice disgraced former Cabinet Minister ... and now European Commissioner Peter Mandelson" (past failure, incompetence or corruption seemingly being a prerequisite of elevation to a position in the European Commission) I will listen to them about Mr Aitken.

Until then, I believe the modern idiom is:

"Pot. Kettle. Black."

As a fellow Christian, I feel obliged to give Mr Aitken the benefit of the doubt. In rediscovering his faith, he appears to have repented of his past sins, and is now seeking to allow God to use his experiences in prison to improve the lot of those with whom he rubbed shoulders.

Mr Mandelson, by contrast, seems only interested in improving his own lot, along with his fellow self-serving Commissars (sorry, Commissioners).

Anonymous said...

alfred of wessex

You're right to place Aitken and Mandelson together: they're both spivs and conmen who put their own interests first, last, and everywhere in between, though at least Mandelson was a highly effective, albeit cynical, organiser. What has the smirking Aitken to offer other than an open goal for our opponents?

As for your Christian duty to forgive wrongdoers, go and volunteer to be a prison visitor if you want to do what you imagine to be God's work. The mass of voters in this country want the Tory pary to bang up more criminals not make prison more comfortable for them. There's already an army of psychologists, probation officers, lawyers, teachers, and increasingly soppy prison officers paid to do that giving Britain one of the softest prison regimes in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Exit Davis Barfing said...
"Hattie Halfwit, that is the most incoherent post I have ever read."

I think she must be pissed.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed; Jeffrey Archer could no doubt tell us all about his heroic escape from Colditz!