Giving a speech at the Howard League for Penal Reform has got to be a tough sentence. Their mission is prison reform, which is typically not the highest priority among the voters…as any politician speaker at their events must know only too well.
The League has been in the business of arguing for prison reform since 1866 which is a lot longer stretch than an aspiring Justice Secretary might consider a good term in office. But Sadiq Khan MP, an aspiring Justice Secretary, appears to have got away unscathed with his speech at the Howard League this week.
It’s fair to say that his speech didn’t really get going with much excitement. There was wasted time at the start where the only distinguishing mark was his reference to the conference theme, community sentences cut crime.
His speech took in some jargon along the way. So we heard about:
Evidence-based policy making
and an old favourite,
zero tolerance policy
and, one that’s gaining ground with some regularity:
This is unacceptable.
Horrible. And finally,
…and I look forward to working with you to deliver.
His speech worked through a string of metaphors…a favourite was mention of the coalface. Wouldn’t the salt mines have worked better with this audience? Another metaphor that featured was,
crack the whip
Images of penal colonies came to mind.
He included a good number of rhetorical questions into his speech and also managed a reference to a case study or two. He could work more with these. His reference to the Redcar initiative never really hit any point. Nice to know but, no point.
The most excitement with this speech came from his knock-about comments about the current incumbent of the job he aspires to fill–Chris Grayling. There’s really no harm done with this. He’s a politician and we can expect it.
With the evidence before us, no crime was committed with this speech, but it’s definitely still work in progress.