David Blackburn

Dirty tricks are off and running

Dirty tricks are off and running
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The Tories are bracing themselves for an election campaign of smears and dirty tricks. Today the sniping begins. Attack dog Liam Byrne has criticised Cameron’s ‘Broken Britain’ speech in the following terms:

“I think when people read what Mr Cameron is saying today they will see that it is quite an unpleasant speech…Mr Cameron is seizing upon one appalling crime and almost tarring the people of Doncaster and the people of Britain.”

Cameron is not tarring anyone; he is clear that Doncaster was one of a number of extreme incidents (Baby P being another) that exist alongside a groundswell of anti-social behaviour. The terms ‘Broken Britain’ and ‘moral recession’ are sensational but Cameron has a point. The graph below illustrates that incidents of anti-social behaviour have fallen minimally; and that ignores that many incidents are never reported and that crime statistics are, shall we say, often an exercise in litotes.

Also, listening to Cameron’s speech, he wants to legislate so that parents can work flexibly and spend more time with their children – hardly the unstinting and insensitive authoritarian that Byrne refers to.

With public enthusiasm for politics close to the nadir and the nation beset by economic and social problems, Westminster should avoid trading insults.