Next week the Prime Minister will make his much-awaited law-and-order speech. This should, under normal circumstances, be the third or fourth such speech by a Tory leader who’s been in government for more than a year. Normally, it would be an occasion to score easy points from centre-right voters.
But these are not normal times. The PM has rebranded the party to such a degree that it has nearly lost its law-and-order credentials. In addition, the U-turn over sentencing policy now needs to be explained. So this is a claw-back kind of speech, where the PM has to restore trust and win friends anew.
The real problem is, of course, policy. But more superficially, the government has a problem of voice. It does not have a tough guy that articulates the concerns and views of a middle class, who worry about criminals not crowded prisons. Someone who can give the coalition a bit of law-and-order umpf. Liam Fox could do the trick but he has his hands full at his current department. The same goes for IDS.
It is not clear who could do the Norman Tebbit-shaped job — and keep the Lib Dems on board. But when the PM reshuffles his Cabinet, getting a toughie on board should be a priority.