"How much more can we take? Barely a week goes by without David Cameron distancing himself from some elemental Tory belief. He is against grammar schools and tax cuts and big business; in favour of the state sector and immigration. Now he says that young toughs need understanding, not condemnation."
The rest of The Telegraph leader is more of a harrumph than an argument and The Daily Mail is rightly more positive and constructive. The Mail believes that the Tory leader is "right to say these young people [hoodies] are suffering from neglect and the absence of love" and that society must tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour that put young people on, what Oliver Letwin once called, the conveyor belt to crime. What the Mail urges, however, is that the Tories look at the main driver of anti-social behaviour – family breakdown:
"Britain has Europe’s worst rate of family breakdown, the highest number of teenage pregnancies, the highest incidence of fatherless children and, as a result, the highest rate of child poverty. But not a mention of this appears in the advance copy of Mr Cameron’s speech today."
I cannot verify what The Mail says about the advance copy of Mr
Cameron’s speech – unlike the Republican Party the Tory leader’s office
has never provided any advance briefing to bloggers – but Iain Duncan
Smith was emphatically pro-family on this morning’s Today programme.
He made it clear that family breakdown’s impact on the poorest
communities will be a leading theme of today’s CSJ conference – ‘Thugs: beyond redemption?‘
It will be a big test of Mr Cameron’s seriousness about the causes of crime if his recent all-things-to-all-people family speech
evolves towards a serious commitment to promote fatherhood, support the
aspiration to marriage and provide fairness for stay-at-home parents.
Mr Cameron has set up a policy review process and IDS has been charged
with making recommendations on family policy. Time will tell whether
those recommendations are (a) good enough and (b) whether or not
they’ll be adopted by the Cameron leadership.
Later today – in a move likely to reassure the more traditional Tories – David Cameron will underline his commitment to police reform.
The public wants "the police to be crime fighters, not form writers,"
he will say. "They want the police to be a force as well as a service."
If Mr Cameron can get serious about being ‘tough on the causes of
crime’ he is already demonstrating a clear commitment to be ‘tough on
crime’. In addition to his police reform agenda – which is in the safe hands of Nick Herbert MP – he has also made clear promises to develop Michael Howard’s successful ‘prisons works’ policy.
5.30pm update: FULL TEXT OF DAVID CAMERON’S SPEECH