Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Knife crime: which twin is the Tory?
Forty-four years ago to the day, on the 18th June, 1970, I first stood for parliament in the Liberal interest.* I can't remember now whether it was slightly before or after that general election that we used the campaign slogan "Which twin is the Tory?" a parody on an advertising slogan which promoted the advantages of a home perm called "Toni" compared with a more expensive permanent wave from a professional hair dresser.
Our point was that there was nothing much to choose between the Conservative and Labour parties, and the only real and progressive alternative was the Liberal Party under the radical leadership of Jo Grimond.
Sadly, disillusioned voters can now complain, which good reason with regard to economic policy, that there's now nothing much to choose between all three major parties.
However, yesterday's vote in the House of Commons, when Labour and Conservative MPs combined by 404 votes to the Liberal Democrats' 53 to support mandatory jail sentences for anyone caught twice in possession of a knife, demonstrates that in social policy we continue the Liberal tradition of policies based on reason.
Whilst Labour seem just as much in hock to populism and tabloid sensationalism as are the Tories, Liberal Democrats point out that there are all sorts of reasons why someone could be caught with a knife for the second time, (not least having it thrust on them by an older or more astute gang member when the police are spotted,) and are prepared to trust our judges to make rational decisions in the light of the evidence they have heard.
That's what judges, juries and courts are for.
* Although we didn't actually win, we took comfort from the fact that we polled just over 15% of the vote and were one of only a handful of consistences where Liberals increased both our total vote and percentage share. It was necessary to seek such consolations in those dark but optimistic times. Could be something similar in 2015, but without the optimism.