At the Daily Telegraph Andrew Gilligan suggests that the election for Mayor of London next year will be dominated by Boris Johnson's record on crime and the trading of statistics on whether it has risen or fallen.
Gilligan notes that Cllr Steve Reed, the leader of Lambeth Council, claims there is a "recent upsurge of violent gang-related crime" in his borough.
Not true. As Gilligan says:
The claim of an “upsurge” in violent crime doesn’t entirely stack up. Over the last year in Lambeth, rapes and murders have risen, but there has been a 6 per cent fall in violent crime and a 24 per cent drop in gun crime. Nor does the claim of a more “recent” rise quite hold water. There were 598 crimes of violence in Lambeth in May 2011, compared with 555 in April and 600 in March. But that is not the
Rather than making this inaccurate partisan point scoring it would be more constructive for Cllr Reed to invite Boris to come and meet Pastor Mimi Asher of the Myatts Field Estate in North Brixton. Working with the local church she has got 80 young people out of gangs and back to playing a positive role. Apprenticeships have been organised, a football league started, an array of other activities. She has succeeded, with a tiny budget, where the Council with its huge budget of youth worker bureaucrats has failed. Cllr Reed has spotted this and is decommissioning the Council's youth provision with a view to getting better value for money by funding church and community groups instead. Good for him. Mimi's example illustrates how the Big Society does not just exist in leafy suburbs.
Anyway Gilligan offers a warning that Boris may be raising too many topics. Such as bees. Labour's best tactic would be talk about crime a lot – and try to avoid mentioning Ken Livingstone. I don't actually agree with Gilligan. I think Boris can make clear the high priority he gives to crime while also showing concern for the environment. But it is a valid warning to maintain a balance.