We are at the end of a week in which, notwithstanding the continually dreadful distractions of regional conflict and the mindless carnage perpetrated on individuals and communities around the world, signalled the start of the run in to the next General Election. The famous political saying: ‘events, events’, (as in everything hinges on them) would appear never to have been more on the mark as it is today. Sadly, Napo cannot change the world or even achieve all of the objectives that our members rightly ask of us, but the absolutely tremendous show of support and solidarity from over two hundred Napo members at Wednesdays Parliamentary Rally and Lobby has given me and everyone else in the leadership team, a fantastic boost as we enter the critical autumn season of our campaign against TR.
Yes, that’s the TR which Grayling and his acolytes were boasting would by now pretty much have been sorted in terms of state of the art operating systems within and between the NPS and CRC’s, a smooth transition into a semi-privatised probation service with loads of innovative providers bursting with new exciting ideas being ready to ‘break the cycle’, and start to engage with the 40k new clients per annum who are due to emerge through the Prison Gates (TTG). The reality on that issue alone, suggests the best that this cohort can expect from the government upon release is: ‘TTFN and see you in prison again soon.’
The rally was another example of highly efficient co-ordination between Kath Falcon, Tania Bassett and Union Services and the sheer energy that the power of reason and analysis can produce; and how the reflective experiences such as those offered by practitioners: Mike Rayfield, Tracey Worth, Jamie Overland and Katie Lomas, can combine with the seasoned and respected critique of stalwarts such as David Chantler and Joe Kuiper’s. Add to that the positive and massively supportive contributions from MP’s Sadiq Khan, Sarah Champion, John McDonnell, Ian Lavery and Caroline Lucas, and others who just pitched up to listen (all of the Labour Front Bench Justice Team) and a number of Tories and LibDems, and you have an event that set the bar in terms of quality, passion and where appropriate a bit of humour as well; together with that age old quality which Napo have always had in our locker: justified self-righteousness.
Grayling gets a vote of confidence
The timely release that day of the joint Napo/Unison member’s survey showing, among other things, that 98% of respondents had no confidence in the Secretary of State (see the website for a full analysis) wa the cause of one of the biggest laughs of the rally, when an official search was announced to find the 2% who did! It’s Ok, I am not serious about that bit, but many thanks to all of our members who took part and helped contribute to what is both a compelling and depressing analysis of life at the sharp end. Please take this information out there to your MP’s and communities and, by the way, Unison and Napo have sent it to all those bidders who expressed an original interest in the share sale fiasco. Once again the survivors from round one would be well advised to know just what environment they might be walking into.
Rumours that the plans for me to form a new strike force with Dean Sturridge and Mario Balotelli only collapsing on football transfer deadline day owing to a failure to agree personal terms, are as unfounded as it gets. So my next trip to that great city will in fact be for the TUC, which kicks off on Sunday; an event where Napo will get a useful opportunity to try and secure more support for our anti-TR campaign by way of motion 45 and opposition to the privatisation of Children’s Services in motion 46.
I will post more from Liverpool as there are lots of other things going on that I need to tell you about, but meanwhile I hope you will have had a chance to read my personal message to probation and FCS members which I have had posted out to you this week. It’s my way of saying a sincere and heartfelt thanks to you all once again for your support and loyalty to Napo, its elected leaders and your paid employees.