Take that you softie!

WHO'S toughest on law on order? Tony Blair and his bruising enforcer Home Secretary John Reid or David Cameron and his former part-time SAS shadow Home Secretary David Davis?There's nothing like a good Commons row over which party is best at promising to bang up all the young scroats for life and throw away the key.

By Graham Dines

WHO'S toughest on law on order? Tony Blair and his bruising enforcer Home Secretary John Reid or David Cameron and his former part-time SAS shadow Home Secretary David Davis?

There's nothing like a good Commons row over which party is best at promising to bang up all the young scroats for life and throw away the key.

You've got Labour which has had two illiberal Home Secretaries on the trot and whose libertarian backbenchers don't like all these blood curdling noises coming from their leader and the Tories, who always prided themselves on being the only party to be trusted with the safety of the citizen and who now find Labour firmly on their territory.


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The Commons yesterday was back to its rowdy best, although I had to keep reminding myself that the atmosphere was pumped by our Dave, who when he became leader promised to do away with Punch and Judy slanging matches.

Perhaps it's because he's ahead in the opinion polls that he now thinks he should take off the gloves and engage in a bare fisted fight with a wounded Prime Minister who will soon be off the scene.

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Mr Cameron took the Government to task over the increasing public anxiety - fuelled by Fleet Street - at the early release of prisoners.

He accused Dr Reid of blaming judges, civil servants and the public - “will you tell him to stop blaming everyone else and get on with his job” he demanded to the great glee of Tory MPs.

You'll recall that when the Home Secretary wrote to the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith about the “lenient” sentence handed out to paedophile Craig Sweeney, who snatched a three year-old child from her home and molested her, the Prime Minister gave him a vote of confidence after the Attorney took some offence at his colleague playing to the gallery.

Rounding on Mr Cameron and the Tories, the Prime Minister accused them of voting against the 2003 Criminal Justice Act which brought in indeterminate sentences, replacing automatic life sentences enacted under the Tories.

“You talk tough, both vote soft” he shouted at the Tories, and then said our Dave was “talking absolute rubbish” when he poured scorn on sentencing guidelines which allowed paedophile Sweeney to be given a short jail sentence.

He reminded the Tories that it was their votes which led to his plans to detain suspected terrorists from 90- days without charge being watered down to 28 days. Ouch.

And what, dear reader, of Sir Menzies Campbell, the accidental Liberal Democrat leader who's been having rather a tough time in the Commons and been soundly vilified by the media?

Wisely he didn't try to join in the law and order hoo-hah - well Liberal Democrats can't pretend to be tough, it's against all their instincts - so he changed subject and asked two dignified questions on nuclear power.

That's an issue the Lib Dems should make more of if they are to stop slipping into oblivion. It's a heaven sent opportunity for them to take the moral high ground. Whether they're capable of exploiting it is another matter entirely.

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