Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tragedy in Liverpool and a measured Conservative Response

Everyone I have spoken to is quietly appalled at the murder of an 11 year-old boy in Liverpool, apparently by another child. This is a tragedy for the family, and who could not have been moved by the grief and incomprehension of the parents at the loss of their beloved son, but it is also a stark illustration of the country's situation. 'Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime' is exposed as nothing more than a clever soundbite from a politician and a party that have systematically made policy that have demonstrably made things worse. Whether it be undermining the police with paperwork and targets that have nothing to do with the prevention and detection of crime, or signing away our right to deport foreign criminals, or undermining the family with an approach to welfare where it pays for children to be fatherless, Labour speak the language of the law-abiding citizen without believing a word of it. Their reaction is always to make more things illegal, well, shooting a child in the back of the head has pretty much always been illegal. We have 3000 more criminal offences since 1997 and where has it got us?

What is required is certainly more effective policing, but also real action on the causes of crime, be it a skewed welfare system, or the failures on children in care, or any of the multiplicity of government policy that has rendered communities powerless. It is not just about government though, and David Cameron made this point very clear in his recent speech, it is about all of us who have influence in society. That means families promoting respect to their children, local authorities promoting their own communities and the media stopping treating violence as a subject for casual entertainment. This is a measured, adult approach, not the glib spiel of a professional politician where success in measured in opinion poll points, instead of children's lives. Labour is stuck in the centralising top-down world where a piece of paper telling people how to behave means that they will behave in that way. Meanwhile back in the real world there is a demand for small coffins.

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