Let's lock up ministers!

ACCORDING to "informed reports," we may soon be getting a new celebrity living in east Suffolk.Apparently Lord Archer of Weston Super Mare, aka Prisoner FF8282, is to be moved to Hollesley Bay within the next couple of weeks.

ACCORDING to "informed reports," we may soon be getting a new celebrity living in east Suffolk.

Apparently Lord Archer of Weston Super Mare, aka Prisoner FF8282, is to be moved to Hollesley Bay within the next couple of weeks.

If he does come there, then at least he'll have at least one friend nearby.

According to his prison diary only three MPs wrote to him expressing their sympathy after he was sentenced to four years in jail for perjury.

One of them was his old friend and Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer.

Hollesley Bay is, of course, in Mr Gummer's constituency – so Lord Archer knows who to complain to if needs the intervention of his local MP.

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Of course he's doubly disqualified from voting in parliamentary elections – as a member of the House of Lords and as a convicted felon.

However it may well be that he is able to vote in the next general election – by then he will certainly be an ex-offender and may well be an ex-Lord as well!

I was sent a copy of his controversial prison diary to read, and you can't deny it's a riveting read.

I'm not happy that he's written it now and I don't like the idea of him using his prison experiences to make a profit once he is released from jail.

Archer might be giving the money from the newspaper serialisation of the diaries to prisoners' charities, but the basic royalties will be coming to him.

But the book itself does paint a bleak picture of life in the maximum security Belmarsh prison.

No one could think that prisoners have an easy life after reading this book – especially prisoners at the start of their sentence.

Through it all there is a tone of "Pity Me," and what is lacking is any sense of remorse for what he did – effectively stealing a libel victory and getting a respected editor the sack.

What the book does, however, is raise many questions about the whole prison system.

I still cannot really see the sense in sending people like Archer to jail. He may be a liar and a cheat – but he's not really a danger to the public and I still feel there must be better ways of punishing non-dangerous people than locking them away in dehumanising places like prison.

And what is the point in locking first-time offenders like Archer away with murderers and violent criminals for three weeks while the system decides they aren't dangerous?

It seems that Archer, like fellow Tory Jonathan Aitken, has become committed to the need to reform prison during his stretch inside.

What a pity politicians don't see the need to make changes before they're sent to jail.

Maybe every Home Secretary should have to spend a month in a top-security prison before taking up office. Now there's an idea!

EVENTS at Woodbridge Town Council the other week showed exactly why the lowest tier of local democracy has often been reduced to a laughing stock.

The town council (really no more than a parish council with delusions of grandeur) got its knickers in a twist because it co-opted a new member thinking he was an independent and he turned out to be Conservative.

All kinds of allegations of impropriety were flying around – and non-Conservatives on the council were crying foul.

What on earth does it matter which political party you belong to if the most important thing you can discuss is the state of the streetlights?

Why were they so upset? Was it because the pattern of life in Woodbridge would be upset?

Or was it because the non-Tories were too dozy to realise when a fast one was being pulled on them?

Either way, it's the kind of scenario that is so ridiculous that if it was included in a sit-com, the script would be rejected for being unbelievable!

ANYONE who's visited Ipswich town centre over the last few weeks can hardly have failed to notice the huge great signs that have been put up heralding Sunday week's big route changes.

Turning many of the roads into one-way streets used only by buses and taxis is a good idea – but putting up huge signs like that for drivers is at best pointless and at worst dangerous.

For a start the change shouldn't affect most drivers – they're banned from the streets affected already.

I know that many drivers are either too ignorant to understand the signs telling them that they're banned or too arrogant to think that the signs apply to them, but we're promised that police and traffic wardens will be cracking down when the new arrangements come in.

These huge yellow signs have drivers straining to see what they're about as they drive past and must be a huge distraction.

It isn't as if the councils behind the plans haven't done their bit by distributing leaflets and taking out press adverts telling us all what is happening.

When the changes come, most people are confident they will be quickly understood.

I just hope during the next few weeks we don't have any accidents caused by the confusing road signs.

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