ScotsmanCapturing the enormity of yesterday has been a test for Fleet Street’s headline-writers.  Most have passed the test with flying colours:

  • Alluding to John Prescott’s affair The Times chose FLIRTING WITH DISASTER.  The Sun and The Daily Star both chose "TWO SHAGS" – dispensing with the need for any kind of allusion.  "There’s hope for fat old gits everywhere," continued The Star.
  • "JUST WOEFUL" says The Daily Mail below a "foreign murderers roam Britain" sub-headline.
  • The Telegraph chose BEWITCHED (over a photo of the Deputy PM)… BOTHERED (Patricia Hewitt)… and BEWILDERED (above Charles Clarke).
  • Next to a photo of a dying rose The Scotsman opted for NEW LABOUR WILTS AS CRISIS DEEPENS.
  • The Independent called yesterday A SORRY MESS.
  • And my favourite – from The Guardian – TRIPLE WHAMMY WEDNESDAY.

Inspect all of the frontpages yourself at Sky News.

I’m sat in the atrium of Portcullis House, with my laptop, writing this post.  For those who don’t know the atrium (with its ‘Despatch Box’ coffee bar and cafe-style canteens) it’s one big meeting place for MPs, research staff and journalists.

I’m constantly interrupted by folk and yesterday’s Black Wednesday is on everyone’s lips.  John Prescott’s affair is the thing most people want to discuss but it will be the prisoner release cock-up that is the story that will do most long-term damage to Labour and it’s not going to go away.  Over the next few days, weeks and months the newspapers will be hunting for stories of released rapists and murderers reoffending.  Charles Clarke won’t survive too much longer and the damage to Labour will be considerable.

This is a great opportunity for the Conservatives to reinforce our law and order credentials.  This is not a time for roadtesting carbon efficient cars.  This is an opportunity for the Conservatives to show that only the Conservatives – not let-prisoners-vote LibDems – will really be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.