David Cameron launched a strong attack on Labour yesterday for its failure to plan ahead and avoid the current prisons crisis:
"There has been a failure of planning, because despite repeated warnings the Government simply hasn’t put in what was necessary in terms of prison places, and political will, because even at the time when it was clear the Government was heading for a major road crash in terms of overcrowding, nothing was done. The fact that criminals using child pornography are escaping prison is the responsibility of the Government."
"SWAGGERING John Reid was in the dock last night for a string of broken promises that fuelled the prisons crisis. The big-talking Home Secretary was blasted for vowing to BUILD 8,000 more jail places, CREATE prison ships and GRAB disused army camps to relieve overcrowding. But as jails are now so full that convicts are being kept in police cells, Reid has been exposed as delivering absolutely NOTHING."
Danny Finkelstein is surely right, however, in arguing that Gordon Brown is the real villain of the affair:
"The Chancellor has refused repeated bids for the money to fund new prison places. This is now revealed to have been a catastrophic error. Mr Brown is a far more important player in the whole disaster than John Reid. Is he really going to be allowed to keep his head down and avoid criticism for his role?"
The Tory strategy must be to put Brown in the dock for the crisis in law and order.