Earlier today I noted an important interview that David Cameron gave to the Yorkshire Post. In that interview he promised to emphasise social breakdown in a likely autumn General Election. Although the party must have strong and coherent policies on economic issues I think Mr Cameron may be judging things about right. It’s not quite a Jamie Bulger moment but last night’s tragic shooting of Rhys Jones is a terrible confirmation of how rotten much of British society is becoming. The accounts of Rhys’ mum cradling her eleven-year-old son as he lay dying is truly horrifying.
In his excellent speech yesterday David Cameron set out a three dimensional approach to fighting social disorder. He promised action to improve the criminal justice system by giving more power to magistrates. He undertook to free the police from the bureaucracy that means that they’re off the beat for 80% of the time. And, vitally, he promises to rebuild the social structures that help young people to escape from the conveyor belt to crime. In the last two areas he has been given a very strong set of policy options by Nick Herbert and Iain Duncan Smith. Nick’s police reform agenda and IDS’ ‘Breakthrough Britain’ report mean that the Conservative Party can offer Britain a thought-through approach to turning the tide on crime and anti-social behaviour.
It’s also good to see David Davis running hard on all of these issues. Writing for tonight’s Evening Standard he holds the Government responsible for the offensive Chindamo decision. Extracts are printed below this editorial.
The Conservative approach to these questions is David Cameron’s greatest achievement as Tory leader. There’s still the familar Conservative commitment to punish serious and repeat offenders. There’s still belief in the Michael Howard doctrine that ‘prison works’. There are new and welcome policies to scrap the Human Rights Act. David Davis is certainly the right man to convince core Tory voters that the party will be tough on crime. But alongside the familar policies there is a commitment to be tough on those infamous causes of crime which have only become more powerful in the Brown-Blair years. Tory action against drug and alcohol addiction, measures to help families stay together and support for the social enterprise sector give the party a strong anti-crime agenda. These should be the issues that now stand at the heart of David Cameron’s bid to be Britain’s next Prime Minister.
Labour are responsible for the Chindamo decision: "The Chindamo decision was based on an EU Directive which placed higher value on Chindamo’s right to stay in Britain – as a UK resident, not citizen – than on the threat he poses to the public. That deal was struck in Brussels and agreed by this Government – on Jack Straw’s watch as Foreign Secretary – so the Government cannot duck responsibility for its own decisions."
The perversities caused by the Brown-Blair Human Rights Act: The confusion generated by Labour’s warped approach to human rights has seen £1million paid in compensation to drug addicted prisoners (denied their ‘right’ to methadone), the names of fugitive killers withheld to protect their ‘privacy’ and convicted paedophiles allowed to use the same gym as schoolchildren. The Human Rights Act has contributed to this confusion, but Gordon Brown – despite the tough talk on crime and security – stubbornly refuses to consider replacing it.
The Conservative approach: "The Conservatives stand for the fundamental freedoms that this country has cherished for centuries and millions have died defending: freedom of speech, trial by jury, and freedom from arbitrary detention – all undermined by draconian measures under Labour over the last decade. But we stand for a common sense application of those freedoms. Rights with responsibilities. And a proper balance between competing rights. There are two ways a Conservative Government would achieve this. To start with, we would put an end to the endless haemorrhaging of national powers over crime, policing and immigration to Brussels – and put any referendum on the ‘new’ EU Constitution to a referendum of the British people. We would also replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights."