Henry G Manson on the riots aftermath
The Conservatives should win the law and order debate hands down. Always. Their MPs traditionally go further than any other party and understandably thereâ€™s a huge appetite for tough action on those involved in rioting. Yet the failure to budge on the 20% cuts to policing leaves the government wide open to attack from Labour and parts of the Conservative-inclined press too.
There are so many things to be said about the recent rioting and itâ€™s hard to remain detached and keep a cool head from the disgusting events that have occurred. For now, itâ€™s easier to look at the issues before the riots.
As recent as July, The Sun was highlighting women who will no longer vote for the party because of scale of the cuts. What was striking from the examples they used related to policing. These are the people they should be effortlessly winning votes from:
â€œBut the proposition of cutting budgets on policing worries me as I feel quite unsafe in my own home sometimes. I believe we need more police on the streets.â€
Bernadette Longart, Sales Executive, Worcester
â€œMy shop was broken into recently and this made me realise we need more police on our streets, not less.â€
Nicki Slaney, business owner, Gravesend
Now of course itâ€™s possible to argue that The Sun highlighted these women to make their own political point, but itâ€™s an issue thatâ€™s out there more than ever. Letâ€™s look at the research from Lord Ashcroft published in May this year and what was concluded:
â€˜One of the things people expected from a Conservative-led government, whether they voted for it or not, was a tough approach to crime, but so far they have been disappointed. Asked what the government was doing on the issue, previously one of the Conservative Partyâ€™s strongest suits, most people thought only of police cuts â€“ with some adding that they had heard we want to send fewer criminals to prison.â€™
And that was before the riots. Now with pressure from Boris Johnson to reverse the police cuts the pressure on Cameron and Clegg will increase in the run up to the London Mayoral election.
Ed Miliband has hit the right note and the bulk of the PLP has remained on the sensible side of the public. If the Labour Party maintained a robust stance on law and order as well as pledged to maintain good spending levels on policing, then Iâ€™m certain the party would get a good hearing from people who have not voted for them since 2001. But this is an issue that the Conservatives should be streets ahead on. The fact that they are now so vulnerable on such an important issue is extraordinary. Can David Cameron seriously avoid reversing police cuts before the next election? I donâ€™t think he can.
HenryG Manson @henrygmanson