By Jonathan Isaby
Labour has been attempting to use the "police cuts" narrative in the Oldham by-election whilst Balls appears set on being more tough in his rhetoric than the Government on security issues.
So I am astounded that the populist Balls failed to adopt a common sense approach when he gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday.
Aidan Burley, the Conservative MP for Cannock Chase, asked the shadow home secretary an easy question:
“Do you think it would be better if police spent more time on patrol than they do on paperwork?”
“Erm… I think that is too simplistic a question for me to give a sensible answer."
Burley observed afterwards:
“This little cameo from the Shadow Home Secretary sums up Labour’s whole approach to public services. They want to spend more money but they don’t want that to be reflected in the provision of a better service. Just as the amount of money the last government spent on the police went up, so the time that an individual officer had to be on the streets went down. We need to cut the bureaucracy and allow the police to be out where they belong.”
“Under Labour, the police spent more time on paperwork than on patrol. The public want to be crime fighters, not form-writers. No wonder there is record dissatisfaction and low morale within the service – the man who would be Home Secretary seems not to care whether they are solving crime or pushing pens.”
You can watch the full encounter between Burley and Balls on the video below by fast forwarding through to 12:42:40.