New Dalrymple Book: Mr Clarke’s Modest Proposal

A new, very short Dalrymple book, Mr Clarke’s Modest Proposal: Supportive Evidence from Yeovil, has been published by the Social Affairs Unit. In truth, it seems to be more of a pamphlet – measuring 26 pages and costing only $2.99. This link offers access to both the paperback version (although it is already showing up as “Out Of Print–Limited Availability”) and the Kindle version, as converted by the good folks at Monday Books.

The book analyzes the prison reform plan proffered by British Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke. We haven’t yet read the book, and will do so this weekend. But from the Amazon description, it sounds as though Dalrymple praises Clarke’s attempt at reform, while criticizing some of its details:

The British criminal justice system taken as a whole, then, is not working very well. It is both costly and ineffective: the taxpayer gets the worst of both worlds. It therefore stands in need of reform and Mr Clarke has boldly seized the bit between his teeth. He thinks we ought to imprison fewer people and rehabilitate more. Dr Dalrymple recently spent six weeks in Yeovil, in Somerset, a normal English town. This is an account of what he found there, and how well it supported Mr Clarke’s reforming zeal. He discovered that there was indeed a need for reform; the system was not working. Whether Mr Clarke’s reforms are the right ones is, perhaps, another question. If Dr Dalrymple is right, they will at least have the merit of making sure that policemen, lawyers, probation officers, insurance loss adjusters, hospital casualty officers and trauma surgeons will have plenty to do for the foreseeable future. There will be full employment and an expanding market for them, if for no one else.

4 thoughts on “New Dalrymple Book: Mr Clarke’s Modest Proposal

  1. Joe

    I am fairly sure that Dalrymple will not praise Clarke’s attempts at reform, except with extreme irony (saying the opposite of what he means). In the Amazon description the words “boldly” and “merit” are clearly meant to be heavily ironic, and the last two sentences obviously mean that Dalrymple thinks Clarke’s reforms will lead to more crime and violence.

    See the article at, which uses the same heavy irony on the same topic.


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