UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Brown takes a different tack on Iraq

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BrownInquiryTony Blair said he had no regrets about removing Saddam Hussein when he ended his session before the Chilcot inquiry in January. Gordon Brown, not surprisingly, took a different approach.

Perhaps mindful of the anger that Blair’s words had reignited, Brown topped and tailed his appearance by acknowledging the  cost in human lives among British soldiers and Iraqi civilians of the conflict.

Brown was ready to admit to mistakes in reconstruction efforts but portrayed himself as a loyal cabinet member who had left the heavy diplomatic arguments to Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the run-up to March 2003.

On the most contentious issue of funding, Brown said he had never short-changed the military, funding operations in Iraq to the tune of eight billion pounds.

from The Great Debate UK:

Jack Straw cites trust as top issue for UK democracy

In a wide-ranging lecture in London on Monday hosted by Brunel University's Magna Carta Institute, Justice Secretary Jack Straw outlined his thoughts on the state of democracy in Britain and beyond.

After the talk, Straw told Reuters that the most pressing issue in UK democracy is the need for politicians to restore public trust following an expenses scandal that forced the main political parties to work together to resolve the crisis.

Live blog: BNP on Question Time

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Welcome to our live blog of the BBC’s Question Time, which tonight features British National Party leader Nick Griffin on its panel.

Whichever side of the debate you fall on, no-one can deny that this has developed into a huge story. The BBC has defended its decision to invite Griffin on, Gordon Brown has predicted that it will backfire and security has been ramped up ahead of the show.

Is it right to free “Great Train Robber” Ronnie Biggs?

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“Great Train Robber” Ronnie Biggs will live the last part of his life as a free man after Justice Secretary Jack Straw agreed to his release from prison due to ill health.

After taking part in the robbery of a Glasgow-to-London mail train in 1963, Biggs was caught and handed a 30-year sentence the following year, only to escape from prison after just 15 months, eventually fleeing to Brazil where he spent decades as a fugitive.

Is Ronnie Biggs being treated harshly?

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To the surprise of many, not least the newspapers and TV channels that were telling us right up until Wednesday afternoon that his release was imminent, Ronnie Biggs has been refused parole.

Reason — a bad attitude

The 79-year-old Great Train Robber may be physically frail but is clearly unwilling to show the required amount of remorse that would get him out of jail and could now spend the rest of his days behind bars.

Iraq cabinet minutes remain secret

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So we’re not going to know the full details of what the cabinet thought about going to war in Iraq.

Justice Minister Jack Straw has blocked the release of cabinet minutes on the subject on the grounds that to open them up would undermine democratic decision-making. If ministers thought everything they said in cabinet was going to be made public, his argument ran, they might be reluctant to express their full and frank views and therefore the principle of collective cabinet responsibility would be undermined.

Are bigger jails the answer?

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straw.jpgShould Justice Secretary Jack Straw press ahead with plans to build three massive “Titan” jails housing up to 2,500 inmates each?

An alliance of 34 criminal justice charities and associations have written an open letter to Straw urging him to scrap the plans, arguing they will do nothing to reduce crime or tackle “sky-high” reoffending rates.

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