Leaders of the three main parties think they have to shift to the right to win public support.
To please their most right wing supporters the Tories have targeted various groups for attack after headline-grabbing attack—including immigrants, health workers and teachers.
This week they turned their fire on prisoners. Justice secretary Chris Grayling said that prisoners “need to earn privileges” such as watching TV or going to the gym by working or doing courses.
It’s a disgusting attack on vulnerable people. And it bears little relation to the reality of prison life.
Recent prison inspections show that many prisoners spend too much time locked in their cells.
One report last year noted that a “lack of activity places” that was “compounded by underuse of existing spaces”.
Another found that “Too many prisoners were unemployed and many were not purposefully occupied in any activity”.
Many prisons have waiting lists of prisoners wanting to work or access education.
This is getting worse thanks to cuts—and the fact that the prison population has doubled in the last 20 years.
One report of HMP Woodhill last year found that staff shortages meant that too few prisoners could access education.
Grayling’s idea won’t change that—but it might help shore up the Tories’ wobbly right flank.