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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Eddie’s Balloon Filler

Another free paper arrives on the doormat. In Crewe you get at least two of them a week: occasionally I see the delivery bod and say hello. They’re agreeable folk, but on one subject they’re not for moving: one copy of what they’re delivering is going through your letter box, whether you want it or not.

And last week, we had the face we see too often, with the headline we know won’t result in anything changing. Once again, it’s Edward Timpson (the man with marginally more charisma than a Burton’s dummy), and he tells us it’s “Time to get Tough”.

On “yobs” this time, so the thinly veiled reheated press release tells us. There will, in the new Tory utopia, be no more namby-pamby “moving on” of these people. The police will instead escort them to the nearest cop shop, where “new curfew orders could ‘ground’ persistent troublemakers at night after school hours”. Also there would be more “robust” enforcement of the licensing laws. And, guess what, there’s the old chestnut about “cutting police paperwork and bureaucracy”.

Call me sceptical, because I am sceptical. What’s the difference between a Labour ASBO and an all new Tory “Curfew Order”? And what about the ones who aren’t at school? And just what lies behind the present level of police paperwork? Here’s something I found on the Home Office website:

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and accompanying Codes of Practice

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and the PACE Codes of Practice provide the core framework of police powers and safeguards around stop and search, arrest, detention, investigation, identification and interviewing detainees.”

Just exactly who was prime minister in 1984? Margaret Thatcher. So if Eddie, and any of the other Tories who love to rabbit on about “paperwork and bureaucracy”, are suggesting that their own legislation was wrong, how about they say so straightforwardly and unequivocally?

And, Eddie, when you’ve figured that one out, tell us how you’re going to pay for this. Don’t forget that you’re releasing this attempt to sound tough at the same time as Council Tax bills – with the police charges itemised – are, like the free paper, dropping onto doormats across the constituency.

Because, until and unless you stop flannelling and start doing (I will return to the growing list of areas where Eddie is doing either very little or nothing at all later), then all you’re producing is more balloon filler.

And that’s just hot air.

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