Deep in the bowels of the Ministry of Justice this conversation has not happened. Yet.
Civil Servant Minister, I have had an idea.
Lord Chancellor Excellent, that means I might have the same idea soon. Let’s hear it then.
CS We should nationalise crime.
LC I’m sorry?
CS I said we should nationalise crime.
LC But haven’t we just spent the last few months trying to privatise everything in crime. Haven’t we just made sure we handed over everything to our friends and future fellow board members at Capita, G4S and Serco. Aren’t they going to be angry if we take it all back?
CS No, I am not suggesting that. It was my idea to privatise the courts, I’m not mad you know.
LC It was my idea.
CS Of course Minister. It was your idea that you had inside my mind first.
LC That’s better. And my grand plan is that it is much neater if you have one body handling all aspects of the criminal justice system. Much better to let a private enterprise handle the obtaining of the forensic evidence, the counselling of the victim, the interpretation for the witness, the security at the court, the court itself, the transport of the prisoner, the acceptably adequate defence representation, the prison he gets sent to and his rehabilitation when he gets out. It is really messy when the state gets involved in this essentially private transaction between big business and the consumer of criminal justice.
CS Exactly right Minister. And I am not suggesting we go back on that. The final piece in the jigsaw was handing over judicial appointments to Simon Cowell. It is just that it has occurred to me…well…that we haven’t got anything to do any more.
LC What do you mean?
CS Well now we have given all these contracts out the “Justice” part of the Ministry is fairly much being run elsewhere. Eddie Stobart has more say in what happens in the courts than you do.
LC Which is only right. He knows a hell of a lot more about it than I do.
CS So I thought “how about nationalising crime?”
LC Now this is where I don’t understand this brilliant idea that I may be about to have. Firstly I don’t understand it at all (not that we should let that get in the way) and secondly aren’t the Etonians going to look at me a bit funny when I suggest nationalising something we have only just sold off?
CS I am not suggesting anything to do with the system. It is crime itself. The criminals. We should nationalise crime itself.
LC Okay…. No still don’t get it.
CS Think of it as a bit like the gas fields. There is all that crime out there and no one is taking ownership of it. It is a great untapped natural resource. If we take it over then we get a piece of the action. We get a slice of the profits.
LC I don’t want you to think for one moment that I don’t get it but can you explain it to me a bit more.
CS You’d be a bit like Tony Soprano.
LC TV. Now you are talking my language.
CS So you would control all the criminals in the country. We would get all the profits from things like the drug trade.
LC But I don’t know anything about drugs.
CS We keep telling you minister. A lack of knowledge shouldn’t hold you back. A lawyer as Lord Chancellor would never have had the vision to sell courts off to the highest bidder whilst selling representation off to the lowest bidder.
LC But what about violent offenders? Can’t see that being a popular vote winner.
CS We can say violent offending lacked public credibility. That ministers had received some letters about it. And, with a few psychos on your side I bet Michael Turner will think twice about being so mean to you.
LC I love it. What about sex offenders?
CS Easy. We are a coalition government. Create a Secretary of State for Sex and give them to the LibDems. It is what they are here for.
LC God I’m good.
CS Yes you are.
LC So all the crims work for me? And nationalising them will of course help them because they are too thick to pick who it is best to conspire with.
CS Exactly Minister.
LC And we keep the money.
CS Exactly. And we will be the only Ministry to turn a profit. We’ll save costs too. Where we have to currently pay for taxis where our private contractor for transport lets us down we can just get one of our boys to TWOC a car for us.
LC Gideon will be pleased.
CS This could be the making of you. You could go all the way to the top job.
LC You mean Chancellor of the Exchequer? I like jobs with that title. I have a great chat up line should I ever meet Anna Chancellor…..
CS Focus Minister, focus. I mean the real top job. The job you’ve always wanted. Real power.
LC Oh. You mean Director-General of the Beeb??
CS *sighs* If you like Minister.
LC Sorry. One thing. Isn’t this all a bit….what’s that phrase those pesky lawyers always say…..a bit of a conflict of interest?
CS That’s the beauty of it Minister. We have no control over any aspect of justice any more. We sold it. So there is no conflict at all.
LC Brilliant. I have thought of everything. So usual drill. We’ll announce a consultation and then we roll out my plan to nationalise crime in two months.
CS Yes Lord Chancellor.
LC One more thing. From now on no more Lord Chancellor. Call me Don Chancellor. Capiche?