Protempore

A soundbite for the Daily Mail which shows a level of ignorance that is staggering

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There’s an old adage in politics that goes along the lines of, when you’ve got nothing to say, find something to say quick. Little hacks the public off more than politicians who appear to be coasting rather than setting to work on making their manifesto promises tangible.

Obviously, for the past couple of years, the Covid-19 pandemic has completely dominated the political agenda, not only here but also across the globe. And in a way, that’s helped governments of every hue to simply focus their attention on that single-point agenda almost to the exclusion of everything else.

However, sooner or later we were always going to start to emerge from lockdowns, restrictions and a barely recognisable way of life that would result in people once again beginning to question what their governments were actually up to on the wider political spectrum.

Here in the UK, the Tories, who find themselves slipping in the polls as the “vaccine bounce” begins to lose energy, resorted to their age-old comfort blanket, in an attempt to stir up their core voters – they dragged out the “tough on crime” bullshit so beloved by their chums in the right-wing press.

This all started some time ago in 2019 when Priti Patel, who had just been appointed Home Secretary, said that she wanted criminals to “literally feel terror” at the thought of breaking the law. It’s the kind of amateur soundbite which is solely intended to grab front-page headlines in the Daily Mail and which shows a level of ignorance on the subject that is staggering.

There are so many ways to show that Ms Patel doesn’t have a clue when it comes to the myriad factors that lead to criminality.

For example, does Ms Patel actually believe that serious organised criminal gangs will be literally quaking in their boots when they organise their latest drug run from Spain? Of course they won’t.

They know that the rewards of such activity far outweigh the risks and a pathetic, politically motivated speech isn’t going to change that.

It’s also more likely that a heroin addict suffering withdrawal is going to feel terror, not at the thought of Ms Patel’s empty rhetoric, but at the thought of not being able to access the hit that will set them straight for another day.

Is a single mother contemplating shoplifting food going to be more terrified of Ms Patel’s right-wing bullshit or the thought of her children going to bed hungry for the third day in a row?

Now I know that I’m going to be accused of being a simpering left-wing patsy who doesn’t have a clue – that’s always the response when you attack the Tories’ policies on crime – but I would have far more time for a Home Secretary who actually recognised that crime isn’t just the result of a spur of the moment lapse in sensibility, and who actually put forward practical solutions to the problem.

It’s a well-known fact (and you can find the research going back 50-odd years if you can be bothered to look) that crime is, in the vast majority of cases, due to poverty and the attendant socio-economic circumstances that people find themselves in.

Again, I can hear the cries of “well, my family was poor, and I never turned to crime” – if that’s you, then you have absolutely no idea what being really poor means.

It means not eating; not being able to concentrate in school; having no qualifications; living on benefits in damp housing; and finding yourself in an ever-downward spiral to complete despair.

If this was me, I’m certain that I would be rifling the shelves in supermarkets to either eat or fund a drug habit that temporarily drags me out of my miserable existence.

So where is the Tory policy to attack the root causes of crime rather than the unfortunate souls who end up in court because they’re poor? Well, you won’t be surprised to find that there isn’t one.

(Let’s not linger on the vile pre-history that crass comment brings to mind.)

No mention either of the bankers and financial spivs who brought the economy to its knees being asked to repay their debt to society.

Why?

Maybe they spent a portion of their swag on a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

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Boris Johnson’s intellectual contribution to the debate is putting antisocial offenders in ‘fluorescent chain gangs’

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