The tsunami of abuse aimed at London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan from the right-leaning press has been relentless, from the rantings of professional slob Rod Liddle last week to his fellow amateur human being Tony Parsons yesterday. There was more knife and gun crime, and what was he going to do about it? It was his fault, right? He was in charge of the cops, so all the blame could be dumped on him.
Tory politicians were quick to validate the press campaign, to the surprise of no-one who knows that the Government has made a Faustian pact with our free and fearless press, awarding them the cancellation of Leveson 2 and Section 40 in exchange for their continued support. That pact is the most asymmetrical of deals: the press can bring down the Tories at their will, but now the Tories can do nothing about the press.
Nor, it seems, can the Tories do anything about that part of the press still interested in that increasingly rare thing called journalism. So it was that the Guardian effectively pulled the plug on the whole Sadiq blaming campaign and showed that the right-wing press had been deflecting in no style at all, telling readers “Police cuts ‘likely contributed’ to rise in violent crime, leaked report reveals”. And who is responsible for Police cuts?
Clue: not Sadiq Khan, hence the sub-heading “Leaked Home Office documents undermine Amber Rudd’s claim that police cuts were not to blame for increase in violent offending”. The Home Secretary has jumped on Khan’s attempts to defend his position, claiming that it just wasn’t true that decreasing Police numbers meant more crime, because before the reduction in numbers, there had been more crime than even now.
So now that Ms Rudd could no longer hide behind the press, how would she respond? “Asked about the leaked Home Office documents, which said policing cuts ‘may have encouraged violent offenders, Rudd said: ‘I haven’t seen this document … There are a lot of documents that go around the Home Office. We do a lot of work in these areas. Of course violent crime is a priority, and as I say I think that you do a disservice to the communities and the families by making this a political tit-for-tat about police numbers’”.
Ah, now that she and her pals could no longer trash Sadiq Khan over the issue, and the boot was so firmly on the other foot, it could be dismissed as a “political tit-for-tat over Police numbers”. This did not impress Labour: “The shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh, said Rudd’s admission was shocking”. And there was worse to come.
Yvette Cooper, who has ministerial experience, put it bluntly: “This is shocking. Surely Home Office officials sent the document to Home Sec, to junior ministers and to special advisors? Cant imagine a department withholding from decision makers the evidence & analysis it did for a new strategy. Something has gone very wrong in Home Office”. The idea that Ms Rudd somehow “didn’t see it” was looking very shaky indeed.
Not that you will read any of that in the Mail, Sun, Telegraph, Express, or Times, of course. After all, editors have to make decisions on what gets into that limited space in their papers. Which is nothing to do with those impending local elections. Perish the thought!