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Yes, but this can go too far. There still has to be punishment for wrong-doing, and it has to be condign.

I agree Clive. Tough on crime AND tough on the causes of crime as someone once said.

Tim, this was one of the best bits of a quite stunning speech. I was so pleased to hear that we as a party really are going to say goodbye to the authoritarian assumptions of the past.

The synthesis of sound money, low taxes and a a people-centred party was outstanding.

There were flat bits, a few stumbles and it went on a bit for some (not me).

However, unlike Brown's speech Cammo's gets better and better on reflection and not worse and worse. I think this is what shocked the BBC pundits so much (Channel 4 news did a very objective analysis in marked contrast)

As a Teacher I can't wait to get stuck into the loonies running the NUT - we have a vital role to play in rebuilding Britain, and having 100% literacy is one of those things that all teachers, in all subjects at all ages can make happen.

I can't actually think of a single dimension in which consideration of context and reflection on the humanity of the criminal doesn't make sense. There's my mawkish & embarrassing, soggy liberal way of so doing, of course. But even if I were completely hard-hearted, and thought only in terms of the calculus of societal cost, I would still favour rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged lives over 'lock 'em up & forget 'em' strategies, because of the evidence that this does nothing but lock people into their lives of crime. Prison works, but it could work a whole lot better.

Sorry, still not buying this. Criminals know the difference between right and wrong. They know because they wouldn't like it if they were assaulted, murdered or burgled. Furthermore unless they were born both blind and deaf they can see that society doesn't approve and that such actions are against the law.. Yet they still choose on their own free will to commit crime. They made a choice to be bad people.

Actually I tend to agree with David Cameron here (or is it really IDS), at least in part. This in spite of my view that we are generally far too soft on crime, my support (in certain circumstances) for the death penalty and of my membership of UKIP and agreement with that party’s no nonsense policy on crime.


Not long ago, my wife, daughter and I, after a night out at the theatre, came across a youth of 16 who was about to jump from a footbridge onto the road below. We pulled him back and our daughter (a doctor) did a good job in sorting him out, at least for the immediate future. It turned out that this young lad had been evicted for his mother’s house by her new “partner”, had no job, no GCSEs (after 11 years of state education), no real friends other than casual druggy acquaintances and nowhere to go. I fear he is by no means unique in the Britain of 2008.

I am not sure what, if anything, the government/state can do about such people; possibly it indicates a need for a moral revival and a new John Wesley but it is good that IDS (and through him, David Cameron) are at least beginning to recognise the problem.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Dave is going to carry on with the same failed policies we have today.

"...and so it should. The idea that crime has roots in broken families and malnourished lives is true".

Why is it then when we had real poverty years ago, not defined as being unable to afford Sky telly, there were low levels of crime. Why is it that many rich and privileged people (including some from this party) have seen the inside of a prison?

Might have something to do with: 1) knowing that there is less chance of being caught than years ago: 2) you will be dealt with leniently, unless of course you are a former Tory minister, in which case our lefty justice system tries to make an example of you.

People are driven to suicide and despair; I do not accept that people are “driven” to crime. I grew up on an East London council estate in the 1960’s where we lived in relative poverty. There was little crime and I have never been tempted to go round mugging people etc.

Tackle social injustice by all means because no one should have to live as a second class citizen, but stop making excuses for wrong doing. That is a conscious choice that people make, knowing that what they are doing is wrong.

In ages past people were also poor, desperately so, yet they had been taught right from wrong and were by and large law abiding.

Yes, we should teach our youngsters the difference and try to reform where possible, but endless chances while they abuse our society and break the law? No.

For the hoodies who beat a blind man with his white stick, then kicked and punched him on the ground, tell them right from wrong.. immediately after cutting them down from the whipping post after their public flogging....

Danny Kruger's defence of hug-a-hoodie is a must read:

"This speech has gone down in Tory lore as a terrible blunder, but I am still rather proud of it. The nub of it was, that while we should certainly punish people who cross the line into criminality, on this side of the line we need ‘to show a lot more love’.

Love is a neglected crime-fighting device. But the need for it is powerfully proved in Felicity de Zulueta’s important book From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness. She argues that violence and hatred are not motive forces of their own: they are the terrible expression of wrecked relationships, of thwarted love.

Men and women seem to have a yearning for agency, for the ability to affect things. As de Zulueta puts it, the sense of helplessness is ‘a state tantamount to annihilation’; we will do anything to avoid it. Hence self-harm, and what youth workers call ‘self-sabotage’ — the apparently wilful screwing-up of opportunities, the no-show, the walking-away at the moment before achievement. People who feel incapable, feel the need to prove it: failure, at least, is something they can author.

This need to own the pain you feel, to make it yours, helps explain the deep guilt felt by victims of abuse or trauma. Taking responsibility for what you went through at least means you did something, rather than merely received the experience passively. The psychoanalyst Ronald Fairbairn called it ‘the moral defence’: it is, in a sense, understandable and rather admirable.

Except that a common consequence of the moral defence would appear to be violence towards others. Living with unjustified guilt is deeply painful. And we use pain to authorise evil.

De Zulueta’s analysis is to me a compelling reason why a purely punitive approach to crime and disorder cannot work. Of course we need punishment, both for its deterrent value (which is clearly effective in many cases) and for the sake of natural justice.

But for an increasing number of kids, issuing out of wrecked families into the streets of London, punishment is actually the fulfilment their pain is seeking. The perverted street culture which glamorises prison dovetails neatly with the yearning for agency; meanwhile the actual reality of prison is, if not glamorous, at least stable and comparatively safe.

Surely we can develop better institutions to warehouse hoodies than prison and the familiar big urban state school. The mid-20th-century model of teenage education — large mixed-ability classes sitting in ordered rows, passively receiving instruction — has little to offer those boys who attacked the moped man and me. They need a mix of creativity (artistic and intellectual) and adventure (preferably outdoor and physical) which exam-driven schooling simply can’t offer.

Somehow the long slow process needs to begin — of building up the institutions which host love. But it will take changes which go way beyond politics. "

David_at_Home | October 02, 2008 at 11:57
Well said - it is not affluence that creates a good society - it is good families and good neighbours. Poverty is no excuse for crime and I believe that people often commit crimes just because they can - nobody stops them or catches them or punishes them ...but it is also true that mindless punishment seldom heals broken, directionless lives.

Whilst I agree with DC's sentiments - and, indeed, the sentiments of many of those posting on this blog today - I cannot feel that quoting Bush on welfare/social justice is perhaps one of the greatest ways to damage Cameron's campaign. As I have pointed out elsewhere, Bush's welfare record, not to mention his treatment of the poor (remember his response to Hurricane Katrina?) is horrendous; America's least favourite president since polling began has systematically made the poor poorer and exponentially increased the numbers of the desperate poor, particularly children.
We should not see Cameron in the same light as a man who recently attempted to cut $14 billion-worth of funding for healthcare, welfare, education and cancer research, arguing that it was too expensive to sustain - and then asked Congress for 50 times that amount to bail out Wall Street. Cameron, on the other hand, has thus far demonstrated his commitment to fixing our broken society, not in imposing measures which are going to increase the rot. And his proposal to reinstate - not introduce - an equivalent of the Married Persons' Allowance is a far cry from Bush's wish to penalize and dehumanise the unmarried. Nor is he proposing to imitate (so far as I can gather) Bush in doubling the prison population in England, something at which Labour have become increasingly adept. Cameron's vision for society appears to be a bottom-up model which encourages social responsibility for self and others thus re-establishing past models of acceptable behaviour , rather than the superimposition of an authoritarian matrix which traps countless individuals, a la Bush.

Absolutely right. There are some posters on here that still don't get it though. Their position seems to be that criminals always know the difference between right and wrong (which they don't, especially if they've been brought up to believe that there is no difference), and hence they have a 'choice' whether to commit crime or not. They do indeed have a 'choice', and indeed they do make the wrong 'choice', on that we are agreed. Where we disagree however is in the 'choice' as they see it and the 'choice' as we see it.

As we see it, freedom from prison is clearly and absolutely superior as an outcome to lack of freedom within prison. For the serial criminal, however, prison does not hold any especially horrific consequences as his or her life outside prison is most likely to involve no support network of family or friends, no job and no prospects. For him, prison may represent a form of order that the outside world may not.

So the objective is twofold. Firstly, to make criminals realise the seriousness of the activities and to start them on the road to reforming themselves and secondly to make sure that these people who do not see the difference between right and wrong do not emerge in the first place. How do we do this then? Firstly, a restoration of the justice system to something that does not resemble a kind of drop in centre for serial offenders but a system of proper punishment, justice and finally restoration and redemption for those who go through it. This would involve harsher sentences of course, and also an end to prisons that resemble hotel rooms but it would also mean the chance for prisoners to acquire skills and learn about the consequences of their actions. Secondly, it would involve supporting families in all the ways Cameron suggests, as well as fostering a society built on responsibilities rather than 'human rights'.

This would seem a far more preferable way of dealing with crime than some of the airheaded approaches adopted by some posters here.

Can anyone explain to a simple soul like me what there is to understand about the behaviour of overweight and drunken louts who lure the emergency services into their estate and then pelt them with bricks and bottles? Or similar types who wait for old ladies to draw their pension and then rob them violently? Or other forms of low-life who con their way into old folk’ houses and steal from them?

I don’t see their arses hanging out of hand-me-down trousers like the children I was at school with; I don’t see rickets and gaunt faces and impetigo or smell the stink of poverty.

There is no excuse for anyone to turn to crime in this country today. I thought that Mrs T had dealt with the enemy within, but the lunatics who seek to blame society for what are the personal choices of these criminals are continuing their work as effective fifth-columnists.

I don't understand why some tories have a problems with dealing with causes of crime.

It is a fact that if you have a bad education you are more likley to fall into crime

It is a fact if you come from a broken home you are more likley to fall into crime.

If we can deal with the causes of the problem then we won't have such a huge problem. A big part of that is getting people off welfare and back into work brak the cycle

the devil makes work for idle hands and all that.

Justa sanother point i do think we should also make an example of the rich and famous who are caught week in and week out kaned on cocaine and heroin and are made to look "cool" by the red tops

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