Peter Hoskin

Grayling debuts his own soundbite

Grayling debuts his own soundbite
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Say what you will about soundbites, but there's little doubting the power they can have.  Take, for instance, Tony Blair's famous declaration that Labour would be "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".  Not only was it memorable and snappy, but it encapsulated, and still encapsulates, the kind of Broken Windows thinking that's since become near-consensus.  Problem is, it's so good a soundbite, that - despite Labour's failure to live up the pledge - subsequent politicians and oppositions have struggled to escape its shadow.  How else to describe an approach on crime?

Chris Grayling made a valiant effort to shift the goalposts in his first major speech as shadow home secretary, earlier today.  Sure, there were plenty of references to Blair's soundbite (eg. "[Blair] was absolutely right - to be tough on crime you have to be tough on the causes of crime ... Nice analysis, shame about the delivery" ), but also a few new lines of Grayling's own.  The one that jumped out at me was his claim that we need "Fewer rights, more wrongs" (a contraction of the sentence, "It's time we dealt with the wrongs against society - not just the rights of their perpetrators").  The "fewer rights" bit may cause some hand-wringing, but it seems to me a powerful charge to level at a system in which so few arrests end in convictions. 

Overall, the speech represents exactly what Grayling was drafted in to do: punchy, no-nonsense statements on crime and Labour's record, of the sort that even those pining for David Davis can appreciate.  Well worth a read of the whole thing.

P.S. Highlighting their centrality to the Tory policy agenda, Grayling gives generous mentions to welfare reform and school reform as methods of getting tough on the causes of crime.

P.P.S. Read ConservativeHome's analysis of the speech here.