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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "crime"

Michael Farmer: More children are being taken into care. All too often that means being put on a conveyer belt to crime.

Lord Farmer is a former Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

With the word Brexit banished from the lips of those who work in and around Downing Street, the Government is, at last, turning its full attention to the domestic agenda.

A radical shake-up of the Civil Service is on the cards, and other mooted reforms aim to make the Government less London-centric, improve military procurement, introduce tougher sentences for criminals, and boost NHS spending.

These are all important, but I would also urge Mr Johnson to press ahead with a big R-review of Children in Care as a priority. The system he has inherited is at breaking point. It needs to be looked at, root and branch – and through a relational lens. Does the system ensure our most vulnerable children have the relationships which are, for all of us, the very essence of life?

The Review also needs to address the fact that the number of children being drawn into it is growing: between 2009/10 and 2016/17, the total number of “looked-after children” increased by 17 per cent, from 64,460 to 75,420. The number of local authority court applications to take children into care rose by over a fifth (22 per cent) and the number of children on a child protection plan increased by 38 per cent, from 39,100 to 53,790.

At the same time, the profile of those taken into care has changed dramatically, driven by a growing share of older children and teenage care entrants, many of whom have more complex needs.

Some of the change in the profile of those in care is down to unaccompanied children arriving in the UK, but equally, there has been a significant rise in Section 20 applications, where parents effectively hand over their children to social services because they can no longer cope – a harrowing decision for any parent to have to take.

Worse still are the outcomes of those children and young people in the state’s charge. In 2017, just 2.7 per cent of children who had been looked after for 12 months or more achieved GCSEs in English language and literature, maths, science, geography or history, and a language, compared to 21.9 per cent of the general population

It is not just in the field of education that we are failing these vulnerable children. On average those in care have worse mental and emotional wellbeing, are more vulnerable to poor physical health, substance misuse, early pregnancies and are more likely to be known to the criminal justice system.

Now, this might seem like an unlikely subject for a former metal trader and Treasurer of the Conservative Party to champion, but I speak from a childhood lived under the dark cloud of parental alcoholism with all the stigma of neglect, shame and poverty this entails. If I had not been sent to a state boarding school and experienced stable relationships, I would likely have ended up in care myself.

I have also conducted two reviews for the Ministry of Justice on the importance of family and other relational ties to reduce reoffending and the intergenerational transmission of crime. The first looked at male prisoners, the second more broadly at female offenders. My primary recommendation was that the importance of relationships should be the golden thread running through the criminal justice system. This has been accepted by the Government not least because their own research found that prisoners who receive family visits are 39 per cent less likely to reoffend than those who do not.

So the broadly acknowledged failure of the current care system is also not simply a question of money, even if some claim it is. Local authorities in England spent nearly £8 billion in 2017/18, indeed many overspent. If the Review is limited to bickering about resources, it will fail. It must be far more ambitious in scope than a focus on resources – or on those already in the system.

We have to do far more to prevent children from coming into care in the first place, where possible. The answer to our high levels of fractured family relationships is not to sever existing ties but to do more, earlier, to strengthen families. Hence my strong support for the Conservative manifesto commitment to champion Family Hubs.

We must also prevent the care system from being a conveyor belt into crime, or other highly detrimental outcomes. Just this week, the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall said that young boys caught up in county lines drugs gangs should be seen as victims, not criminals. He points to the gap in family support as a root cause and he is right. Dysfunctional homes and the lack of family security in these children’s lives drives them into these gangs.

Currently, relationships are either treated as disposable or are under-exploited. My two prison reviews and a lifetime of experience have taught me the paramount importance of children finding a connection. Someone who is irrationally committed to you, who will support and guide you, and provide the unconditional love so many of us take for granted. The Government is alive to this and has developed the Lifelong Links programme through its Innovation Fund, but this programme’s DNA has to be replicated throughout the care system – and in the lives of care leavers in prison.

Adopting this relational lens will fundamentally reset the care system and thereby enable a generation of children, tens of thousands of lives, to escape the trap of low expectations, poverty and crime.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Festus Akinbusoye: The scandal of rising assaults on police officers. And what must be done to help reduce them.

Festus Akinbusoye is Chairman of Milton Keynes Federation and was 2015 Parliamentary candidate for West Ham. He runs his own business.

A police officer is assaulted every two minutes in England and Wales. Figures for 2018/19 show 30,977 were reported, of which, more than 30 per cent resulted in an injury. This is a near 20 per cent increase on previous year, but a whopping 70 per cent increase since 2011.

Other measures indicate this is a gross underestimation of the reality – with officers calling for urgent assistance 82 times a day. Though the law was changed in 2018 increasing the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from six to twelve months, we must do more than this in protecting those who are there to protect us. Here is why.

Home Office figures published last year show that 9,427 officers joined one of the 43 Forces in England and Wales in 2018/19. Over the same period, 8,727 left the service. To put it more simply, 92 per cent of the new entrants are replacing those that are leaving. I am informed that two-year attrition rate of new recruits is approximately 40 per cent in some areas.

Admittedly, some of these officers are leaving after decades of gallant service, while a very small number leave simply because they do not meet the professional standards required for policing. However, and as I found out while on a twelve-hour night shift in Luton with two brilliant and dedicated officers a few weeks ago, I can say some are disillusioned by what the role has become, which is a far cry from catching criminals. But there’s more.

A few days before that night shift, two female police officers were assaulted in broad day light while members of the public watched, and others filmed the attack. The quick response of Bedfordshire police officers nearby helped to apprehend the attackers. If I were a potential recruit witnessing such a scene, and how seemingly defenceless these officers were, I might think twice about putting in an application.

Home Office from 2018/19 s indicate that 2,370 officers are on long term sick leave and a Freedom of Information request by Channel 4’s Dispatches found that 500,000 days of sick leave were taken by officers due to mental health related issues. A Cambridge University research study of 17,000 officers found that 43 per cent reported sensing heightened levels of threat to themselves because of their exposure to traumatic incidents, including personal assaults while on duty. One-third of those surveyed suffered from flashbacks, which could have an impact on performance or longevity in the job. The research did find that 34 per cent of police officers who were forced to retire on health grounds did so due to mental health issues.

Each officer that is off work due to physical or mental injury suffered by an assault on the job, is one less ‘bobby on the beat’ to help arrest the 200 per cent increase in county line drugs gangs.

As alluded to above, the law has already been strengthened by increasing the maximum sentence for anyone found guilty of attacking a police officer and other emergency service workers. However, it is not unusual for such perpetrators to walk away from court with a suspended sentence or a £80 fine for choking and attempting to gouge out the eye of an officer as was the case recently.

Day to day experience of our front-line officers indicate that many see it as part of the job to be assaulted, which contributes somewhat to the under-reporting of such incidents. It need not be so. I do not believe it good enough for anyone to go to work expecting to be kicked, spat at, stabbed or run over by a car. Nonetheless, our policemen and women go about their jobs daily, knowing the risks involved but hoping to win the day as law enforcement officers.

Sadly, this is not always the case, but it takes a toll eventually. Police and Crime Commissioners, working closely with Chief Constables play key roles in supporting officers through such difficult experiences and I am aware of one such force where this is happening. We need a standardised support protocol to be in place.

I very much welcome the government’s funding of tasers for officers which was recently announced. This provides a much safer tool for officers in maintaining law and order, compared to the use of a truncheon or other restraining techniques. The role-out of body worn cameras will be more effective if magistrates were required to view footage during prosecution of cases of assaults on a police officer.

Perhaps we need to move towards a mandatory minimum sentence to send a clearer message. Lastly, this tide cannot be stemmed by legislation alone. It is imperative that we begin a wider societal discussion about respect for the police and other emergency service workers as integral parts of maintaining the democracy and freedoms we all cherish.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Greg Hands: Crime will be the central issue in this year’s election for Mayor of London

Greg Hands is the MP for Chelsea and Fulham.

I am delighted to have been asked by Shaun Bailey himself to be his Campaign Chairman for this year’s Mayoral election.

I have known Shaun well since 2007, and have always been a fan of this very different politician, a man who really wants to do the job as Mayor of London.

The General Election result highlighted what I have been seeing on the doorstep for many months, a complex and fluid change in the way Londoners are voting. The election turned out to be a mixed picture in London for the Conservatives. We lost a fantastic MP in Zac Goldsmith which will leave the Commons a poorer place and many outstanding candidates didn’t quite make it over the line.

However, our gains in Kensington (Felicity Buchan) and Carshalton (Elliott Colburn) were significant for our future hopes in London. The failure of Labour and the Lib Dems to make real inroads will be cause for concern for them ahead of the Greater London Assembly and Mayoral campaigns next year.

Lack of delivery in City Hall

The warning signs should by flashing loudly for Labour big wigs in City Hall. With the General Election out the way and as Brexit falls away from the public’s mindset, Sadiq Khan’s abysmal record on crime, housing, and the environment will be filling up the column inches. Never has a Mayor gone into a re-election campaign with such a poor record of delivery.

Knife crime continues to plague our streets, yet Khan has failed to act, saying it will take a decade to turn things around. 147 people were murdered in the capital last year, the highest level since 2008. But instead of moving resources to the Police, Khan wastes London’s resources on press officers. On housing, Khan has managed to grind all house building to a halt due to his ideological position and hatred of developers. And he fundamentally failed to call out Jeremy Corbyn on anti-Semitism, something that should shame him and his team.

The need for change = Shaun

In Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Party has chosen a true Londoner. He is a black, working class guy, who grew up in the shadow of Grenfell Tower. A man who has had to grind his entire life to make a living and raise his family. In his early 20s he found himself homeless, sofa surfing with friends and family. He chose a career of helping young people avoid a life of crime and has served the people of London as a Greater London Assembly member.

Shaun is probably one of the most sincere and genuine people in politics. He has no dreams of grandeur, he just wants to deliver for Londoners. He wants to have affordable homes for our young people, he wants a clean environment for our children, and he wants safer streets for everyone, now.

Crime will play a central part in the Mayoral election. The heart-breaking stories that we read about on a daily basis will not go away anytime soon. With a lack of City Hall interest and leadership, our streets, our homes, and our communities do not feel safe places to be. This is not limited to the inner-city areas, this is something that is felt from Harrow to Bromley and everywhere in between. There were three knife crime murders in Fulham last year, in my constituency.

Shaun’s plan is one of zero tolerance, tougher sentences for those caught with acid or a knife, a record amount of police on the streets with money already available in City Hall, and ending the fights that are raging on our streets. It is Shaun’s strength of character, and understanding of what is happening under the radar on our streets, that will make the difference.

Conclusion

I am looking forward to working with Shaun to build his campaign, tell his story, and sell his plan to people across London. We need to end Khan’s miserable tenure on 7th May and turn City Hall into a machine that delivers for Londoners.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil Shastri-Hurst: My advice to the Prime Minister on defeating the knife crime epidemic

Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst is a former British Army Officer, doctor, lawyer, and a senior member of the Conservatives in the West Midlands

There is a knife crime epidemic in the United Kingdom. And whilst the headlines are often focused on such attacks in London, it is no less of an issue in many of our urban areas. This morning The Times reports that:

“The prime minister will take personal charge of a new cabinet committee to tackle surging levels of knife crime and violence, with a particular focus on “county lines” gangs that are abusing and exploiting children.”

I worked for several years at the frontline of trauma care, at a Major Trauma Centre in the West Midlands. Code Reds, the term used to alert the trauma team of an incoming patient with major haemorrhage, were and still are, sadly, increasingly common. Stabbings are a frequent cause.

There is nothing quite like the surge of adrenaline one encounters when the call comes in the early hours of the morning and the team rushes down to Emergency Department Resus. Nothing quite like working with an exceptional group of highly skilled professionals who, together, make an even more exceptional team. And nothing quite like the rush of endorphins one gets when a young gang member, stabbed in the heart, not only survives the insult but walks out of hospital a week later with a second chance at life. However, for every heroic tale, there are many others where the outcome was so much bleaker: families and communities shattered by needless and senseless actions.

In 2010/11, in England and Wales, there were five Police Force Areas with a knife crime rate of between 50 and 77 per 100,000 population, one Police Force Area with a rate of 77 to 118 per 100,000, and one (London) with a rate of 118 and 171 per 100,000.

In comparison, by 2018/19, twelve Police Forces had a knife crime rate of between 50 and 77 per 100,000 population, eight Police Force Areas a rate of 77  to 118 per 100,000, and two with a rate of 118 to 171 per 100,000.

And whilst, of course, victims of knife crime can befall anyone, we cannot ignore that this is primarily a “disease” of younger people.

Put simply knife crime represents one of the biggest public health issues facing our younger generation.

As with any “health intervention” there are three distinct phases:

  • Prevention;
  • Treatment; and
  • Recovery.

Tackling knife crime on our streets should be no different. As a Conservative Government, with a strong tradition on law and order, it is imperative that we grip this issue. With the uncertainty in Parliament behind us we can focus on the forthcoming Mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections, to ensure that we have strong local Conservative representation to work with central Government and give this critical issue the attention it deserves.

So how do we develop that three-pronged approach?

We can deliver the first part, effective prevention by:

  • Making family units stronger so that they can provide a stable upbringing that young people need to avoid slipping into crime;
  • Ensuring we have more good schools in deprived areas so that young people have the education and opportunities to lead them away from a life in crime;
  • Providing mentorship and educational programmes for our school-aged children to deter them from gang culture. Expanding the liaison work our Police Forces do and increasing the role of NHS Violence Reduction Tsar, Dr Martin Griffiths, to help break the cycle of violence; and
  • Removing the unhealthy reliance on the welfare state and getting young people into work.

The second part, tougher enforcement and sentencing, can be achieved by:

  • Having a greater police presence on the streets; and
  • Making it clear that anyone convicted of carrying a knife should expect to receive a custodial sentence.

Thirdly, we can rehabilitate young offenders by:

  • Reforming our prisons and Young Offender Institutions so that they reduce re-offending by making governors accountable for re-offending rates;
  • Engaging with the voluntary and private sector to provide drugs and educational programmes to help young people make positive life choices; and
  • Supporting young offenders upon their release with mentoring and work programmes to help them get into employment and contribute to society.

Whilst, at first glance, this all appears pretty simple stuff, it can only work if we have the resources to fund it. With a Conservative majority Government we have the building blocks to do that. This could be a real legacy. The next step is to ensure we have the local representation to dovetail with central Government and deliver results at the coalface.

Over the years I have told a generation of parents their children won’t be returning home with them because of knife crime. Let’s not allow that to happen to another generation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Shaun Bailey: We need tougher sentences to protect the LGBTQ+ community

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

In the past four years, there has been a disturbing rise in homophobic hate crime in London. As someone who has experienced racial hate both on the streets and online, I stand in total solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, many of whom suffer horrible and unacceptable abuse.

The Government and the Law Commission are currently looking at reforming hate crime laws. As part of that, something must be done, and so I urge people to join me in calling for tougher sentences to protect the LGBTQ+ community. Political leaders at all levels of Government need to grasp the scale of this problem, which has increased by 51 per cent since 2016.

In the short term, I would like to see our Government make homophobic hate crime an aggravated crime in line with racial and religious hate crime. This would ensure harsher sentences and could be achieved as part of the sentencing reforms.

We cannot afford to ignore this issue as LGBTQ+ hate crime is growing at a faster rate than almost all other types of hate crime. In the past 12 months alone, 2,835 recorded incidences of homophobic hate crime were reported to the authorities in London. Yet research by Stonewall, a charity set up to represent and protect the LGBTQ+ community, suggests that 81 per cent of people who experience LGBTQ+ hate crime do not report it to the police.

I fear that what has been reported is only the tip of the iceberg. It is completely unacceptable that in a city that prides itself on being as open and tolerant as London, 13,974 homophobic hate crimes could have occurred over the last year – five times the reported figure.

Yet tougher sentencing alone will not protect the LGBTQ+ community. We must address the spread of the vile ideology driving this disgusting form of hate. We need to target the platforms that allow bigoted ideas to circulate. To do this, we must also hold social media platforms to account. We must demand that such ideas are not allowed to spread and to do so we must put pressure on the social media companies to remove abusive content and the users spreading it.

No single community should ever feel singled out, victimised, or punished, and we must not stand idly by as this form of abuse continues to increase. So please join me, sign my petition, and help put pressure on our Government to take the necessary steps to protect our brothers and sisters. United we can stand together in total solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

In our battle to retake City Hall, I have a crime plan will ensure that criminals on and offline are put under pressure, not victims. I will fight for London’s values of openness and acceptance.

Not a single Londoner should feel unsafe for being themselves.

Join Shaun in calling for tougher sentences to protect the LGBTQ+ community by singing his petition.  

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Susan Hall: In 2020, we must offer a positive and progressive alternative to Labour-run London

Susan Hall is the Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly.

I am deeply honoured to have been elected by my colleagues, as the new Leader of the Conservative Group, on the London Assembly. I certainly have big shoes to fill; Gareth Bacon has been an exemplary and effective Leader who will make a first-class MP for Orpington.

I am acutely conscious that I have become Leader at an extraordinarily important juncture for our party and city. We needn’t remind ourselves that in May, Londoners will decide whether they want four more years of Sadiq Khan running our city or change with Shaun Bailey. Londoners will also be electing a new group of Assembly Members to hold the Mayor to account – whoever that is.

In the run-up to this crucially important election, our Conservative Group at City Hall will be focussing relentlessly on two things: highlighting Sadiq Khan’s record as Mayor of London, and setting out an alternative and positive vision for London.

There can be no doubt that Sadiq Khan’s tenure as Mayor has taken our city backwards rather than forwards. Over the coming weeks and months, the whole of Khan’s Mayoralty will be picked apart and evaluated, but last year tells you everything you need to know about this Mayor’s inability to run our city competently. In the last full year before the election, you would have thought that Khan would have pulled out all of the stops and shifted his performance up a gear. But instead, 2019 was the year when Khan’s mayoralty took a nosedive.

The first job of the Mayor of London is to keep our city safe, and last year showed that Sadiq Khan simply isn’t up to this job. As of mid-December, a record 142 people had been murdered on the streets of London, up from 133 in 2018. Similarly, the deeply concerning surge in knife crime showed no sign of abating, with the number of offences increasing by nearly 1,000. The sad reality is that an ever-increasing number of young Londoners are being drawn into a life of crime, becoming both the perpetrators and victims of heinous violence. This is nothing less than an utterly tragic trend, and one which Sadiq Khan has entirely failed to reverse.

Regrettably, we have a Mayor who is complacent in the face of violent crime. He has consistently and perversely chosen to spend tens of millions on more City Hall staff, cultural projects, and PR, while simultaneously bringing out the begging bowl and bemoaning government cuts. We have called time and time again for Khan to treat London’s crime epidemic as an emergency by diverting as much money as possible away from the nice-to-haves and investing in more bobbies on the beat. These calls have fallen on deaf ears, but we Conservatives at City Hall understand that Londoners are crying out for extra police officers, not more press officers.

2019 was a year when homeownership became even more of an impossible dream for thousands of Londoners. Official figures show that the Mayor is on course to deliver just half of the number of homes he promised to build during the 2019/20 financial year while failing to start anywhere near enough units on TfL land. The number of family-sized homes built by the Mayor plummeted in 2018/19 – forcing a growing number of Londoners to move out to the home counties and beyond in order to raise a family.

We want to see a fundamental re-think of the planning system in London. Our city’s greenbelt is precious, but there is no reason why brownfield land should be excessively protected. Sadiq Khan’s decision to place tight planning restrictions on disused industrial land makes no sense, and we’d want to unlock this space for new housing. We would also reverse the Mayor’s decision to remove a family-sized homes target; City Hall should be using all the levers at its disposal to ensure that families can afford to live and thrive in our city.

Last year also proved that Khan is simply unable to manage big transport infrastructure projects. Crossrail – which was due to open a year ago – is now overrunning by up to three years at an additional cost of £3.4 billion. The Mayor’s misguided decision to partially freeze fares means that other crucial capacity-boosting projects such as the Sutton Tram or the Northern and Jubilee line upgrades are no closer than they were a year ago.

Next year the Mayor plans to expand the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to the North and South circulars – meaning that anyone in a non-compliant vehicle will have to pay £12.50 to drive within the area. The ULEZ extension takes a blanket approach to tackling the localised problem of pollution hotspots, and this move will have a disproportionately large impact on poorer Londoners who have no option but to drive within the ULEZ for work, medical reasons, or to do the school run. The General Election showed that at a national level the Labour Party has lost touch with its working class voters. The ULEZ extension demonstrates that the Mayor of London suffers from the same problem.

Rather than spending millions on rolling out a tax which would hit poorer Londoners, we would want to scrap the ULEZ extension completely and use the savings to invest in cleaning up our bus fleet. Unlike the ULEZ, these buses could be used in a targeted way to help clean up the air in some of London’s most polluted hotspots. Whoever is Mayor after May needs to take a sensible and objective look at fares: is it right to freeze pay-as-you-go fares when this comes at the expense of transport improvements and doesn’t benefit the millions of Londoners who use travel cards?

As we enter 2020, memories of 2019 will leave Londoners in no doubt that Sadiq Khan’s mayoralty has been at best a retrograde step for our city and a worst an unmitigated disaster. Under my leadership, the London Assembly Conservatives will continue to offer a positive and progressive alternative to Labour-run London and work flat out to ensure that the Khan years become nothing more than an aberration in London’s political history.

 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Rachel Wolf: I co-wrote this Conservative manifesto. And so can say that its focus was on neither the rich nor the poor.

Rachel Wolf is a partner in Public First. She had co-charge of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto. She was an education and innovation adviser at Number 10 during David Cameron’s premiership and was founding director of the New Schools Network.

Labour has responded to this election with arrogance. The Conservatives, with humility. This is, given the result, extraordinary – and is a reminder of why we won.

Jeremy Corbyn and his acolytes won’t accept that people disliked him and thought that his programme was  undeliverable. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has made clear that those who have – for the first time – voted Conservative must now be convinced they made the right decision.

This is clearly correct. There is no deep bond between the Conservatives and these voters. One must be forged.

I spent the election campaign co-writing the manifesto (a major team effort). The programme focuses on the needs and priorities of the new Conservative voter.

This is a greater mental and policy shift than many realise. In my experience, with well over a decade doing policy work for the party and government, we Conservatives too often slip into thinking of the world in terms of wealthy and poor. In that world, the job of a compassionate One Nation Conservative is to provide help and support for people in dire need. Often, it presupposes they have chaotic and desperate lives.

This is a useless picture of the nation. The vast majority of people are not poor or wealthy. They are competent, good parents. They want criminals to be punished. They work and contribute to society – financially and in other ways. They rely wholly on the state for daily services and if things go wrong, but most of the time they cope. They are – to use the phrase that my husband and another ConservativeHome columnist James Frayne coined – Just About Managing. (Remember that?)

These are our new voters. And there are three areas that we had in mind and wove through the manifesto which are particularly crucial if they are to trust us again.

The first is fairness. More specifically, a system that recognizes effort and reward, but also bad luck and real need. For example, the manifesto promised what David Cameron tried and failed to achieve in his EU negotiation: to require migrants to contribute for several years before being able to claim benefits.

It promised to give local people discounted homes, and to build local infrastructure such as schools before people move into new developments.

It promised a much clearer link between crime and punishment, while also focusing on rehabilitation for those that are willing to work for it.

This is all about recognising the contract between people and the state: we expect everyone who can to contribute, we will look after those who need help, and we will punish those who break the rules. A huge proportion of our new voters think that contract is broken – on welfare, on immigration, on crime, on housing. The Conservative government must show it is restored.

The second area is public services. In five years, people need to find it easier to get a GP appointment, think A&E and social care is better not worse, and not believe that their schools are struggling with budgets. This was a huge focus of the manifesto. It requires looking at the entire system of delivery – recruitment, retention, incentives, performance: an enormously complex task to deliver simple but vital results.

The third area is place. There has been far more conversation on this topic than on either of the other two, and I’m not going to rehash the communitarian, or the ‘somewhere/anywhere’ debate.

But there is a reason why this manifesto had a massive focus on towns, on buses and local transport and reversing Beeching cuts, and also on all the civic and cultural infrastructure that makes a town worth living in. There is a reason that the increases in the science and R&D budget is focused not only on high risk new ideas but on regional growth. We should expect a lot more infrastructure spending in this area in the coming years.

These are all big challenges – and crucial to their delivery are two other great reforms.

Constitutional affairs: how do we make elections fair, how do we balance parliament, the executive, and the judiciary. How do we ensure that decisions are made in the optimal way?

Government itself: what does the civil service need to look like to deliver? Who gets recruited, how are they trained, how are they rewarded and held accountable?

The manifesto pledges sounded deliberately simple. Delivering on them is achievable, but unquestionably a five year project. We now have the chance, for the first time in more than 20 years to demonstrate what a majority government is capable of, and in that process help the people that Labour has left behind.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The London Bridge horror. Now is the time to deliver on the other half of Taking Back Control.

Rage, exasperation, contempt: the London Bridge attack will provoke all three, sometimes at the same time, among the mass of voters.  Why was an Islamist terrorist invited as a guest to a Cambridge University conference at Fishmongers Hall – apparently to describe “his experiences as a prisoner”?  How did it come about that this criminal, jailed for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange, was released after only eight years in the first place?

Who decided that a tag was sufficient to restrain him?  And while it is good that James Ford, a day release prisoner sentenced for murdering a disabled girl, helped to restrain Usman Khan, the terrorist in question, why was he also attending the conference – especially since the girl’s family had not been notified?   (The conference was titled “Learning Together”.  Its Twitter account is @JustisTogether and is subtitled: “bringing students in Higher Education & Criminal Justice institutions together in transformative learning communities”.)

Business as usual, even down to the general election timing and London Bridge location, for the political class.  Boris Johnson sits uneasily at its apex, because of the office he holds.  He can protest that he has been Prime Minister for less than six months.  That unlike his predecessor, Theresa May, he hasn’t served as Home Secretary, let alone for six years.  That his Conservative Manifesto, released prior to Khan’s murders last Friday, pledges “to end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes”.

All this is true – and unlikely to cut any ice with the electorate.  Nor will the Prime Minister’s pledge of 20,000 new police officers necessarily convince.  On Brexit, he is broadly seen as commited to the cause.  But on funding public services, he has his work cut out: the struggle in those marginal midlands and northern seats is precisely over whether voter trust in his new leadership trumps atavistic fears of “the Tory brand”.

Furthermore, the timing of Khan’s attack was ominous.  He may have been a “lone wolf” and he may not: further attacks could come.  Even if they don’t, the questions with which this article opens – and others – open up a entire spaghetti junction of media enquiries.  Who else has been released and where are they now?

Before Johnson knows it, his campaign could be lost amidst this bewildering tangle of roadway.  He is not simply up against the press’s instinct, even among bits of it neutral about it, to scythe down a tall poppy.  Nor even against an isolated Jeremy Corbyn, as in the case of anti-semitism.  In his pursuit of the Prime Minister over police funding and adminstrative blunder, the Labour leader will have his entire party with him: Yvette Cooper, Sadiq Khan and all.

This is the moment for it and for all Johnson’s foes to turn this election round.  He tried to hold them at bay yesterday by stressing that his “takeaway” is that criminals should “serve the term of their sentence”.  But he needs to do much more than that, starting on The Andrew Marr Show this morning.  That doesn’t mean generalist ranting against human rights, which are a way of understanding justice.  Most voters seek both rights and security.  Perhaps that is wanting to have one’s cake and eat it.  If so, they have come to the right shop.  No-one is better at having his cake and eating it than the Prime Minister.  But to do more than that, he needs to get to the root of the problem.

The symptoms of Khan’s story eventually take one to it.  In 2013, Khan appealed successfully against an Imprisonment for Public Protection Sentence.  These IPPs were introduced by Labour, allowed for indeterminate sentences and were abandoned by the Coalition amidst “complaints they had been misused to keep some individuals incarcerated without a proper timetable to be considered for release”.

The long and short of it is that Conservative Ministers will have believed themselves vulnerable to legal action – to “lawfare” – by pro-Islamist lobby groups seeking to exploit human rights legislation, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

Khan’s tale appears to have been caught up in of the wider one of the cat-and-mouse game between those lobbies and the Government – in which Ministers scramble to head off activist judicial rulings, as they see it, or find themselves forced to respond to them. Hence the replacement of IPPs by extended sentences with a fixed tariff.  One of these was given to Khan on appeal.  This takes us all, including Johnson, to the heart of the matter.

Margaret Thatcher once said that “we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at European level”.  Have we rolled back the frontiers of European integration, taking back control from the European Union, only to see them reimposed by the European Court of Human Rights?

To answer with a resounding No does not imply tearing up Britain’s membership of the convention.  The Court is entitled to declare whether or not the Government is in breach of it.  But as David Davis writes on this site today, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Ministers should simply bow to the court’s ruling.

In 2011, the Commons voted by a majority of 212 against an ECHR ruling on prisoner votes.  Davis and Jack Straw, working together, drove the result.  The former said that “it’s for Parliament to stand up and say ‘no, this is our decision, not yours’ and then for the Government to go back and seek a solution.”  In other words, elected MPs, not ECHR judges, should have the last word.  The story of Khan is different, but the moral is the same.

As we say, Johnson’s response to Friday’s murders may not satisfy voters, if only because nothing any politician says could do so: the sense of impotence and abandonment runs deep.  But Corbyn is irredeemably weak on terror.  And by standing back from the details of Khan’s case to see the big picture, and responding authentically, the Prime Minister could do what is right as well as what is now electorally necessary.

Ensuring that sentences mean what they say – now Johnson’s law and order priority – will be impossible to effect without wider reform.  Which means: reforming the Human Rights Act, curbing the abuse of judicial review, and getting the balance right between the ECHR and Parliament. The Conservative Manifesto leaves the door open to all three (see page 48).  For Johnson, there must also be a sense in pursuing them of unfinished business.  Asserting the rights of Parliament over the EU is half the European mission.  Asserting it over the ECHR is the other half of – how shall we put it? – taking back control.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.02 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

The Midlands sky was November grey, and there was the smell of a coal fire from somewhere. I was out delivering leaflets in a council estate in my constituency. Moments after popping one through the door of a bungalow, I heard a door being flung wide open behind me.

A large and angry man appeared. “You can have that back” he said, thrusting the leaflet into my hands. And with that, he swung back into the house and the door thumped shut.

I went on my way. But moments later, I heard the door swing open again. It was the big guy again, and I braced myself for a free and frank exchange of views.

But this time he was in a more sunny mood.

“Sorry. I thought you were Labour,” he said. “Are you the Conservatives? Can I have another one of those?” He told me he was going to vote for us.

It gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be a candidate today for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.I don’t know what it is about life-long terrorist suck-up Jeremy Corbyn, or self-described Marxist John McDonnell, or police-hating Diane Abbott, or their two-faced approach on Brexit… but in many places where Labour might once have done well, they are now regarded with something approaching hatred.

There are still weeks to go till the election, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017.

The ideas we are putting forward are more popular. The campaign feels better run, including on line. People massively prefer Boris Johnson to Corbyn. The question is whether it is enough.

As Daniel Finkelstein has pointed out, we have to win outright, while others can win even if they lose. Why? Because we will never team up with the SNP – while Labour are already dangling another separation referendum to cosy up with the nationalists. The Liberal Democrats can form a remain alliance with Labour – but not us. If we are going to win, it means pushing deeper into Labour territory in the north, midlands and south west, while holding off Lib Dems in the south east and the SNP up north.

The signs are encouraging. One set of constituency polls this week showed us holding seats in London, while another national poll showed us ahead among working class voters by a margin of nearly two-to-one (YouGov, 11-12 Nov).

For someone who got involved in politics when we were in the relegation zone in the mid 1990s, this is heady stuff.
We’ve already come a long way. Alasdair Rae at Sheffield has a neat chart which ranks constituencies in England from the most deprived on the left, to the most affluent on the right.

In 2001, we had no seats in the poorest 30 per cent, and Labour had most of the middle third. [See chart at top of article.] By 2017, the blue tide had already flowed into some areas Labour used to dominate. I hope this time it will surge further. [See chart at bottom of article.]

As we expand, the centre of gravity of Conservative voters has shifted and the Prime Minister has been the fastest to catch the mood. My leaflets this year feature our pledges of 20,000 more police, £450 million for our local hospital and funding for our local schools going up 4.6 per cent per pupil next year. Other than the fact that we also pledge tougher sentences for criminals, controlled immigration and securing our exit from the EU, much of this is the space New Labour used to occupy.

Rumours in the papers say that our tax policy is also going to be squarely focused on helping those working hard on low incomes. I think that would be the right approach.

It’s funny what pops into your head as we pound the pavements in the autumn rain.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Philip Larkin’s poem, The Whitsun Weddings, describing his sun-drenched train journey from Hull in the north, down through the industrial Midlands to London:

“We ran /
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street /
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence /
The river’s level drifting breadth began, /
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet. /
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept  /
    For miles inland, /
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   /
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth…”

I feel like we as a party are taking the same journey, but in reverse, with the Conservative tide flowing up through the midlands and north.

Today the route from Hull, which goes via Doncaster, would take you past plenty of Labour marginals. Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe across the Humber. Don Valley and Rother Valley in South Yorkshire. Down through Bassetlaw, where sitting Labour MP and fierce Corbyn critic, John Mann has just stood down, then past Lincoln to the east, and down to London through Peterborough, where we hope to replace jailed Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

I feel like we have a strong leader, good campaign, we stand for the right things, and people are sick of the delay and dither.

But will it be enough. Will our campaign work this time?

It might just.

Time to get back out there.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.55 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.02 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

The Midlands sky was November grey, and there was the smell of a coal fire from somewhere. I was out delivering leaflets in a council estate in my constituency. Moments after popping one through the door of a bungalow, I heard a door being flung wide open behind me.

A large and angry man appeared. “You can have that back” he said, thrusting the leaflet into my hands. And with that, he swung back into the house and the door thumped shut.

I went on my way. But moments later, I heard the door swing open again. It was the big guy again, and I braced myself for a free and frank exchange of views.

But this time he was in a more sunny mood.

“Sorry. I thought you were Labour,” he said. “Are you the Conservatives? Can I have another one of those?” He told me he was going to vote for us.

It gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be a candidate today for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.I don’t know what it is about life-long terrorist suck-up Jeremy Corbyn, or self-described Marxist John McDonnell, or police-hating Diane Abbott, or their two-faced approach on Brexit… but in many places where Labour might once have done well, they are now regarded with something approaching hatred.

There are still weeks to go till the election, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017.

The ideas we are putting forward are more popular. The campaign feels better run, including on line. People massively prefer Boris Johnson to Corbyn. The question is whether it is enough.

As Daniel Finkelstein has pointed out, we have to win outright, while others can win even if they lose. Why? Because we will never team up with the SNP – while Labour are already dangling another separation referendum to cosy up with the nationalists. The Liberal Democrats can form a remain alliance with Labour – but not us. If we are going to win, it means pushing deeper into Labour territory in the north, midlands and south west, while holding off Lib Dems in the south east and the SNP up north.

The signs are encouraging. One set of constituency polls this week showed us holding seats in London, while another national poll showed us ahead among working class voters by a margin of nearly two-to-one (YouGov, 11-12 Nov).

For someone who got involved in politics when we were in the relegation zone in the mid 1990s, this is heady stuff.
We’ve already come a long way. Alasdair Rae at Sheffield has a neat chart which ranks constituencies in England from the most deprived on the left, to the most affluent on the right.

In 2001, we had no seats in the poorest 30 per cent, and Labour had most of the middle third. [See chart at top of article.] By 2017, the blue tide had already flowed into some areas Labour used to dominate. I hope this time it will surge further. [See chart at bottom of article.]

As we expand, the centre of gravity of Conservative voters has shifted and the Prime Minister has been the fastest to catch the mood. My leaflets this year feature our pledges of 20,000 more police, £450 million for our local hospital and funding for our local schools going up 4.6 per cent per pupil next year. Other than the fact that we also pledge tougher sentences for criminals, controlled immigration and securing our exit from the EU, much of this is the space New Labour used to occupy.

Rumours in the papers say that our tax policy is also going to be squarely focused on helping those working hard on low incomes. I think that would be the right approach.

It’s funny what pops into your head as we pound the pavements in the autumn rain.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Philip Larkin’s poem, The Whitsun Weddings, describing his sun-drenched train journey from Hull in the north, down through the industrial Midlands to London:

“We ran /
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street /
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence /
The river’s level drifting breadth began, /
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet. /
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept  /
    For miles inland, /
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   /
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth…”

I feel like we as a party are taking the same journey, but in reverse, with the Conservative tide flowing up through the midlands and north.

Today the route from Hull, which goes via Doncaster, would take you past plenty of Labour marginals. Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe across the Humber. Don Valley and Rother Valley in South Yorkshire. Down through Bassetlaw, where sitting Labour MP and fierce Corbyn critic, John Mann has just stood down, then past Lincoln to the east, and down to London through Peterborough, where we hope to replace jailed Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

I feel like we have a strong leader, good campaign, we stand for the right things, and people are sick of the delay and dither.

But will it be enough. Will our campaign work this time?

It might just.

Time to get back out there.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.55 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com