Archive for ‘Theresa May’

February 3, 2011

Ken must stay

 

 

The Sun, not famed for its subtlety, has decided to once again turn it ire on Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. They describe him as “a bumbling liability who seems keener to rock the boat than safeguard the streets.”

This is an utterly ridiculous sentiment, not only because Clarke is one of the cabinet members who has best bridged the gap between the two coalition partners, but because his civil libertarian, humane, restorative, approach to justice is vital in a civilised society. Locking people up and throwing away the key no longer works. It probably never has. Clarke advocates a society where people can atone and improve. The Sun advocates fear.

The Sun’s criticism principally revolves around Ken Clarke’s objection to the Conservative pre-election pledge that everybody found guilty of a knife crime would go to prison by default. Even without the huge issue of overcrowded prisons, it is not clear that automatic imprisonment, in the form advocated by Home Secretary Theresa May, is necessarily the right policy. There are  arguably some offenders who would be more of a danger to the public if they were caught under the blanket rule, sent to prison, and then released having been around more hardened criminals.

Knife crime is a deeply emotive, and important, subject. The consequences of it change people’s life in a second. The  Sun does make one sensible point when they says that there needs to more education in schools around knife crime. However, because it is such an emotive subject, it is so irresponsible to run headlines and stories like the one in the Sun today. They are whipping up a frenzy by using the personal story of Ben Kinsella, and the work his sister is doing for the Government. They are trying to paint a deeply experienced and talented minister as dodderry and out of touch.

The only comfort is that being attacked by the The Sun is probably the best endorsement the Justice Secretary’s policies could receive.

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February 1, 2011

Knowing crime on the street where you live

Today has seen the launch of www.police.uk, an interactive website providing maps and details about crime in an area the user can select. Except it keeps crashing. A pretty poor return for a £300,000 investment.

Home Secretary Theresa May says that the online maps have been borne “from a real feeling that people have lost confidence in national crime figures”, but VN is not really sure what the point of the site is. Far from being about people power, it just seems like a bit of gimmick. People don’t want to see a map of crime, they want crime reduced. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, while broadly praising the idea, said that  “since the General Election we have lost around 2,000 police officers and, with 20% cuts to police budgets, this is only the thin end of the wedge.”

Apparently the most crime ridden area in the UK is Glovers Court, Preston, which will be nice and reassuring for the residents. Policing Minister Nick Herbert insisted that highlighting areas of higher instances of crime on the site would not increase the fear of crime, saying “We can’t sweep the issue of crime under the carpet”.

Estate agents up and down the country quake with fear.

January 24, 2011

Yvette Cooper’s Home Affairs Debut

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BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28:  Secretary o...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
After all the hoo-ha over Labour’s Shadow re-shuffle, VN thought we would check in on mover Yvette Cooper making her debut as Shadow Home Secretary in Home Office Questions. After her key role in the last Government, Cooper is obviously an accomplished dispatch box performer, and is probably now more in the debate than she would have been as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Cooper asked her first question on policing, which meant the Minister Nick Herbert, not  Home Secretary Theresa May, answered. A bit of a mistake, and one she apologised for, as really she should have addressed the Home Secretary herself. Herbert gamely replied though, rather predictably quoting Cooper’s husband and predecessor Ed Balls back at her. VN suspects that that particular piece of parliamentary
fun will continue for a good few Home Office Questions to come.

Yvette Cooper then returned later in the session to ask Theresa May about Control Orders, describing the terrorism review as “shambolic. She obviously ignored the fact that she had been part of the government that had brought them in, and the fact that she couldn’t give a definite opinion on whether detention without charge should have been reduced to fourteen days. Theresa May welcomed Cooper to her new role,  mockingly pointing out that in the nine months that the Government had been in power, she had faced three Shadow Home Secretaries.

The session was though noticeable for Labour’s increasing attempts to paint the Coalition as soft on law and order, as numerous backbenchers talked about cuts to front line police, despite the government saying the cuts will come from middle and back office staff. This was all in order to wind up the Tory right, and show the Lib Dems as to weak for government, as well as keep the cuts narrative going.

Luckily in stepped Phillip Davies, demanding more CCTV, a DNA database, and lock up as many people as possible, to remind everyone exactly why civil liberties are important.

There might note have been many sparks today, but Cooper vs May is definitely one to watch. With her more reasoned tone and approach, when Yvette Cooper gets into the role, she may cause more problems for the Government that Ed Balls ever could.

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