Coffee House

Labour wants to be the party of law and order

27 September 2011

Andy Coulson was right to worry about the coalition’s law and order policies:
Labour is trying to outflank the government from the right. Sadiq Khan and Yvette Cooper have cut assured figures at fringe events at this year’s conference, sensing that the
government’s cuts to the law and order budget will imperil one of Labour’s positive legacies: substantially reducing reported crime (by 43 per cent according to Sadiq Khan) between 1997
and 2010.

A strange atmosphere pervades the law and order fringe: the name ‘Tony Blair’ is spoken of with something approaching respect and it is met with scattered applause. Blair’s memory
is profane to this incarnation of the Labour Party, a grinning devil to be exorcised. But the record of his crime policy speaks for itself and his mantra ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes
of crime’ remains extant.


Yvette Cooper spoke at a New Statesman fringe event last night, previewing the speech she will give tomorrow. “We are still the party of law and order,” she declared. She is sure that
cutting police numbers is sufficiently unpopular to harm the coalition, and she predicts that crime and, more importantly, the perceptions of crime will rise in consequence.

Cooper has acquired some of her husband’s dirty habits: she weaved some mischief by saying that “there’s something about the government’s attitude to the police which makes
police officers tell me that David Cameron doesn’t like them.” Government types often talk of the police being “the last great unreformed public service”, which has inspired
the introduction of elected police commissioners to improve accountability and moves to improve police efficiency. Cooper recognises the need to reform, mainly to guard against corruption; but at
no point did she refer to police efficiency. Indeed, in the questions that followed, the audience neglected to ask how Labour might increase the number of hours policemen spend on the street. The
debate was a perfect crystallisation of the fundamental difference between right and left on public service reform at present: the left’s arguments are dominated by inputs, the right’s
by outputs.

Sadiq Khan’s justice policy is much more nebulous at present; but the indications are that he will toughen Labour’s stance. Speaking at an event earlier this morning, he disclosed his
support for a restorative justice programme, which Ken Clarke has largely discounted, and he was clear that Labour would use bolstered community sentences instead of cautions for minor offences.
The combination of these policies would ensure that retribution was meted out and reformation offered.

Khan acknowledges that one of Labour’s greatest failing in office was to allow re-offending rates to soar to more than 80 per cent. A major aim of his forthcoming sentence review is to reduce
reoffending by removing first time offenders from prison, where they are at risk of nefarious influences, while continuing to deliver appropriate punishment in order to satisfy the victims and
restore confidence in the justice system. Beyond that, Khan concedes that the challenge is to support offenders by improving literacy, numeracy and interpersonal skills in an era of austerity.
Khan’s ideas are vague at present, but his insistence that prisoners work suggests his desired route. Despite the leadership’s professions that Labour will work with Ken Clarke in this
area, Khan was adamant that Clarke’s “cost-cutting solutions” are doomed to fail.

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  • LibertarianLou

    Labour pass a thousands and thousands of laws then restrict the police from being able to actually enforce them. They pass laws about smoking a cigarette, and burning qurans, and protesting in places which inconvenience the state, and goodness knows what else, but don’t actually address thuggery, violence, and chaos at the top as well as the bottom of the spectrum (I’m including casino banking and phone hacking in this too, both were allowed to happen on Labour’s watch).

    This is all backwards. We need the exact opposite. Fewer laws. Greater freedoms. And the laws we do have to actually be enforced properly.

  • David Lindsay

    “I’m not Tony Blair.” It is the sort of legend that should be borne by all manner of merchandise. Did you hear how the audience approved? He hated them, and at last they feel able to express how much they hated him. Around this time in 2007, we were heading into the first season for a decade in which Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Remembrance Sunday, Advent and Christmas did not feel faintly illegal, and were not acts of defiant resistance to the Occupation of our country by someone who was essentially her enemy. But now, under the Heir to Blair, we are back to where we were.

    The superb Peter Oborne, whom Ivan Lewis could give the job of deciding which journalists should be licensed and which should not, was on fine form on last night’s Dispatches. The most inappropriate Middle East Peace Envoy imaginable has conflicts of interest coming out of his ears in order to enhance even further the fabulous wealth that has come his way in return for having lied this country into war, to which he has blithely admitted on television with no apparent adverse effect. Does it only count if you say it on Newsnight, or on the Today programme, or to a Dimbleby? It turns out that he is nothing but a paid shill of Wall Street, Murdoch, the Israelis and the Gulf monarchs. Among other things, he is paid by J P Morgan to stop the starvelings of the Gaza Strip from exploiting their own supply of natural gas.

    The wonder is that he has not been made United States Secretary of State. Perhaps he would have been if the Presidency had passed to two of the very few people in the world even viler than he is? One of them promised to nuke Iran if so instructed by the Israelis or by her viciously misogynistic (and Jew-hating) campaign backers in the Gulf. The other, on whose behalf she was really running, was Mr NAFTA and Mr GATT, the man who caused the crash by repealing Glass-Steagall, the Butcher of Bosnia and the Monster of Mogadishu, the bomber of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in order to distract attention from his sexual activities that he falsely asserted were no such thing. Tony Blair always wanted to be him.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Yvette Cooper is right: Labour is the party of law and order…they have created more laws in 13 years than all other governments put together and they love to order us about. This woman is not fit to holod public office, but then, none of them are.

  • Cynic

    … one of Labour’s positive legacies: substantially reducing reported crime (by 43 per cent according to Sadiq Khan) between 1997 and 2010.” I’m sure reported crime did go down – because in many cases it wasn’t worth reporting it! That doesn’t mean the number of actual crimes committed diminished.

  • AliC

    The same mr S Khan who claimed £2.5k for ‘greetings cards’ on expenses (?fraudulently?). Well no, I don’t think I’m going to listen to him. Or to Ms Cooper who as someone else wrote, flipped her house multiple times. And both of them sit on a legacy of ‘its me rights’ culture which leaves the victims of crime with nothing and the criminals walking away after three months of some pathetic community service order. No, I’m not going to listen to them. Their ‘legacy’ is all around us.

  • Ghengis

    Russell – hear hear!

  • Occasional Ostrich

    “there’s something about the government’s attitude to the police which makes police officers tell me that David Cameron doesn’t like them.”

    Well, I don’t like what the police have become. Especially when I negotiate our main street on a Saturday night, trying to avoid the drunks weaving from side to side of the street, paying scant attention to the traffic, yet at each end of the street is parked a paddy-wagon. Are they doing anything about it? No chance.
    A few years ago, I did see the police try to get involved with an unruly crowd; those who hadn’t yet been chucked in the wagon were arguing and wrestling with the police, trying to get their mates released. Any sense of, “Yessir, no sir, three bags full sir.” had totally disappeared. Civil disobedience appeared to be completely condoned. A week later, the same yobs were out on the same street again, equally p*ssed, equally sure of their ‘rights’ to the exclusion of anybody’s else. No wonder the poor cops end up backing off and clearing up the human litter at 2am, that which the ambulances haven’t had to take away earlier.

  • Pramston

    Prevent re-offending by removing first time offenders from prison!!? Come on, what type of first time offence have you got to commit to get sent to prison these days? Only the most serious violent or breaches of trust are likely to be imprisoned first time around. Are these the people Ken Clarke seeks to convince us should not go to prison? How stupid they think we are.

  • perdix

    Property crimes have fallen because electronic gadgets have fallen in value when offered at the pub.Car theft has become more difficult because the makers have built in more anti-theft devices. We should be more worried about crimes of violence.

  • Russell

    I wish labour when in government had been tougher on law. If they had, Sadiq Khan and Yvette Cooper would be in jail for expenses claims and house flipping along with another few hundred MP’s and ex Ministers/(tory)Shadow Ministers.

    We the taxpayer have not ‘moved on’ and will not move on until the disgraceful MP’s and Lords are thrown out and made to repay their fraud.

  • Inigo Unsworth

    On a bit of a tangent I know and not wishing to dilute the gravitas associated with what subject matter is being covered but the image at the head of this posting is reminiscent of a scene from the film, ‘Citizen Kane’ where the media magnate, Charles Foster Kane, appears at some public rally in front of a giant portrait of himself; the resemblance in this imagery is uncanny. And we all know what happened to this ‘big cheese’ in the film …..

    Come to think of it, (the fictitious) Mr Kane started out in life as an idealist who wanted to do good and be ethical in his professional life but then it all went bad and sadly, corrupt practices became the modus operandi.

    Cut to the (non-fiction) Mr Bliar and dwell for a moment on an eerie parallel.

  • Slim Jim

    Labour’s positive legacy? The party of law and order? Are you having a laugh? When criminals serve only a fraction of their sentences, and many going on to reoffend; when we can’t deport undesirable dangerous aliens due to Labour’s Human Rights fiasco, then I can only assume that this is just a great big fecking joke! Apart from the living dead delegates at the jamboree, who on earth can take this lot seriously?

  • William Blakes Ghost

    positive legacies: substantially reducing reported crime (by 43 per cent according to Sadiq Khan) between 1997 and 2010.

    According to Home Office Stats reported crime in 1997 was 4,545,337. Reported crime in 2009/2010 was 4,338,604 which by my count is a 3% reduction.

    Perhaps Sadiq Khan’s papers had a smudge on them that led him to misspeak?

  • Heartless Perry

    PS: I see an excellent opportunity for Guido to add his cross-wires to the above pic, – reminding us that there is still justice to be done in regard to the person declaiming in the piccy.

  • Heartless Hard Perry

    . . substantially reducing reported crime . .

    But whatever was the point OF reporting it (crime)? – apart from risking censure and worse for a tranche of cod crimes including racism, and more.

    And what would the Bliarist PC police have done anyway, – apart from advising ‘Counselling’ to talk about ‘YOUR’ problems?

    And the H2B wishes to do what exactly? Can’t really see him going against his Hero.

  • Maggie

    “…reducing reported crime…”

    But surely their did that by fiddling the figures?

    “Professor Ken Pease and Professor Gary Farrell of Loughborough University, estimated in 2007 that the British Crime Survey was underreporting crime by about 3 million incidents per year due to its practice of arbitrarily capping the number of crimes one can be victimised by in a given year at five. The error means that violent crime might actually stand at 4.4 million incidents per year, an 82% increase over the 2.4 million previously thought. Since the five crimes per person cap has been consistent since the BCS began this might not affect the long-term trends, however it takes little account of crimes such as domestic violence, figures for which would allegedly be 140% higher without the cap. Police figures are also thought to seriously undercount repeat victimisation.
    The British Crime Survey has also been criticised for its exclusion of residents of communal establishments, e.g. hostels, nursing and care homes and university halls of residence, from its surveys, and for its inability to offer statistics for so-called “victimless” crimes, such as those concerning the abuse, possession and trafficking of drugs. The BCS also fails to record crimes against businesses, commercial premises and vehicles and (because it is a victim survey) instances of murder and manslaughter.”

  • Nicholas

    “there’s something about the government’s attitude to the police which makes police officers tell me that David Cameron doesn’t like them.”

    Tells you everything you need to know about these undead zombies from the authoritarian days of New Labour and their unhealthy relationship with their politicised, police placemen – still in place.

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