Sunday, January 21, 2007

Laura Norder

The New Labour spin machine has a policy of frightening the electors out of voting for opposition parties. It has learned the lesson from political campaign organisers in the US and Australia. The more that a candidate can be smeared with the lie that he or she is soft on crime, the less likely they are to be elected.

The government, though, is in trouble when a high-profile violent crime hits the headlines, as such inevitably occurs. This conflicts with their litany that "crime rose under the previous administration, and has fallen under New Labour".

Their answer is that they do not have enough legal powers. So, yet another oppressive Act is pushed through parliament, giving yet more powers to officials and removing yet more civil liberties. And it just DOESN'T WORK!

The prison population goes up. The only limit on it is the lack of additional prison accommodation, which the government shows no sign of providing. (To be fair to the Conservatives, who espouse similarly repressive policies, the Tories have said that they would spend more of our money on building new prisons.) The result is that prisoners are let out early to make room for new. There seems to be little discrimination between convicts, so that the dangerous are let out with the harmless. Violent and sex offenders are moved to open prisons. The Home Secretary (or "Minister for Justice", which, with an Orwellian overtone, John Reid seems to want to create) has to learn to distinguish between those prisoners who are too dangerous to be freed and those who should not have been locked up in the first place.

The parrot squawk from the friends of Big Brother is: what would you do instead? For too long we Liberals and Social Democrats have been apologetic about our proposals. I am glad to see that this is about to change. Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg will be announcing a Cut Crime campaign tomorrow. There is every sign that this will not only be more liberal but also practical.

Let us replace "Law 'n' Order" with "Good Order and Justice".

- Frank Little
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