Cherie Blair speaks and we all wish she hadn't

Cherie Blair decided today that with her husband on his way out, it was time for her to be more vocal. She decided that the issue for her to take up is her opposition to pregnant women being sent to prison. The Independent covers the story HERE.

Firstly, what an absolute bloody cheek. People use the press to raise the profile of an issue so that government can become aware of it. If Cherie is unable to get the ear of government or her husband, then she shouldn't be lobbying us through the pages of a newspaper.

More importantly for me, I completely disagree with her. If it is known that being pregnant gets you off a prison sentence, more and more female defendants will start getting themselves pregnant in order to avoid jail. Not only that, it might be a sign of guilt that a woman turns up to court pregnant. My understanding is that prison s have maternity services and medical staff, and I doubt a child that is a few days old is going to have any understanding of what a prison is or be traumatised by it.

I'm afraid all Cherie Blair wants is one law for men and one for women.


Anonymous said...

I thought you had a pregnant wife so I'm really surprised by your comments. You obviously haven't quite cottoned on yet to how uncomfortable it is to be a pregnant woman and how you have to avoid risks of disease like the plague, eat a healthy nutritious diet and rest and sleep in comfort whenever you need to.

Shame on you Norfolk Blogger, I'm backing Cherie - she's had several children, she knows what it's like and she works in the justice system. I'm surprised you can even dare to pretend to know more than her on this issue!

Anonymous said...

Further - you obviously don't have much understanding of what it takes to get pregnant in that not every woman can and not every woman can exactlly when they want to. The idea that every guilty woman would instantly get pregnant is ludicrous and contrary to the laws of biology.

God do I hate these over sensitive men who turn every issue into a men versus women thing when there are substantial biological differences between the sexes. Totally pathetic.

Cllr Meral Ece said...

While I think you may have a point about Cherie speaking out more now her husband is on his way out, I fundamentally disagree with your points about pregnant women. The idea that women are going to get pregnant in order to avoid a custodial sentence is the most illiberal and off the wall statement I've seen from a Liberal Democrat. It reminds me of the infamous Peter Lilley conference speech under the Thatcher years - his 'little list of young women who are getting pregnant in order to jump the housing queue'
Fact is that women are more likely to get custodial sentences for shoplifting, drugs related and other relatively minor crimes, compared with men. Remember the infamous Ann Widdicome scandal of women giving birth while handcuffed? Imprisoning woemn with children for minor offiences destroys entire families. The children are taken into care, and so the cycle of crime and poverty continues.
Holloway Prison is in Islington where I'm a councillor. I've been there, and its an education. No wonder there's a campaign to close it down.

Tom Papworth said...

I agree that pregnancy should not be a defence or mitigating factor in a trial/sentencing.

But I'm disturbed by your other point: that "If Cherie is unable to get the ear of government or her husband, then she shouldn't be lobbying us through the pages of a newspaper."

As you say yourself, that is what every other campaigner does: "People use the press to raise the profile of an issue so that government can become aware of it."

I would be disgusted and appalled if Cherie was using her personal relationship with the Prime Minister to promote an issue. I realise in reality that these things happen, but in principle we should be welcoming her using the same methods open to the rest of us rather than suggesting that if she can't get her husband's ear over the dinner table then she should not be trying any other method.

Apart from anything else, it implies that she should try the personal links first. That would not be in the public interest (and might even be tantamount to corruption).

Norfolk Blogger said...

yes, brave anonymous blogger (isn't it always the anonymous ones who attack the most ?), my wife is pregnant, yes I know it can be difficult for some people to get pregnant, and yes, even knowing these things I still thnik the way I do. Perhaps you prefer people to change their tune according to their personal circumstances, but I don't.

Paul Leake said...

Surely going to the media isn't trying to make TB aware of the arguments, but to convince the public. As we've seen, this Government is wary of being 'softer' on crime than fairly reactionary parts of the public would allow, so surely Cherie needs to convince them as much as TB.

On the substantive there is a real debate. On the one hand equality before the law should demand men and women get equal sentencing outcomes (although they don't atm). On the other hand, all the research shows that the average man reacts very differently to the average woman in prison, and what works for the average man is counter-productive in the average female prisoner. How do you square the circle between equality before the law and what actually helps rehabilitation and preventing crime?

youdontknowme said...

If you are pregnant and you don't want to go to prison the solution is simple. Don't commit a crime.

If they are pregnant and they are sent to prison they can always have the father look after the baby while she is in prison. If they don't know who the father is and the mother is a criminal maybe the baby is better off in care.

Edis said...

Is there someone in the Prison Service actually responsible for overall policy on women in prisons? I have a suspicion that things have not improved so much since David (now Lord) Ramsbotham wrote about his first day as Chief Inspector of Prisons when he visited Hollway. (see his book 'Prisongate'). He visited the ante-natal clinic where the following conversdation took place, after he noted two fifteen year olds listed as being resident:

"are those girls pregnant"
"No" replied the midwife.
"The why are they down here"
"Because they don't know where else to put them"
"Are these other women pregnant?"
"No, they are psychotics and psyciatrically disturbed as well"
"What on earth is going on here?"

The Midwife shut the office door and said:
"I am an Ibo from Nigeria where we are supposed to be 'less civilised' than here, but I have to tell you that I have never seen anything so inhuman and disgusting as the way they treat women in Holloway"

(Prisongate, pp 21-22)

I really welcome Cheri's interest in the treatment of women in prison and I hope she shames a lot of people into taking a real interest in this complex problem. It seems some of the people who need shaming are in a variety of parties, unfortunatly.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Am completely with you on this one, NB. With views like Meral Ece's, no-wonder the Lib Dems are down and out in Islington...

Norfolk Blogger said...

Edis, you comments eem to be that because we treat psychiatric patients so badly in priosn we should not imprison pregnant women ? That's an odd kind of logic to me.

Let me give you an example. When I worked for an insurance company someone in my office stole £5,000 from the company, and he got a prison sentence. Another person (a woman) stole £45,000 and got a suspended sentence because, by complete co-incidence she was pregnant. Considering the court case was more than six months after she was arrested, doesn't her pregnancy seem convenient ?

Meral Ece said...

Remind me Justin Hinchcliffe, when did the Tories last have a councillor in Islington? Oh yes, the one cllr you had lost his seat in 1992. Since then - you've been down and well out!