Daily Archives: 15 December 2005

Calder gets ASBO

The Mid, rather than the Jonathan variety, as Stephen Glenn has been blogging of late.

Readers will be unsurprised to learn that I’m not terribly impressed by all this. It appears to be more a case of grown adults behaving like scared children than kids behaving badly. The alleged crimes appear to be nothing more than a combination of anecdote and rumour exacerbated by a community that has whipped itself up into hysteria. For example, we are told that “teenagers have been using internet bulletin boards to arrange fights,” but does this mean that the kids are organising Fight Club-style gladiatorial contests, or that a couple of twats had a flamewar and took things a little too far. We are invited to believe the former, but I strongly suspect the latter.

One of the worst things that New Labour has done to this country is to infantilise attitudes towards crime and subsequently criminalise bad behaviour. Don’t get me wrong; ASBOs have a place as a last ditch resort when dealing with extreme cases. However, in general communities are much better at managing this sort of thing themselves. Yet every minor incident these days is automatically regarded as a police matter (and I’ve been to enough public meetings in various parts of the country to know how pervasive this has become). Crime is falling, yet rather than robustly defend this fact, Labour have actively encouraged people to move their attention onto essentially anything they find mildly distressing or irritating. And since the police don’t have a hope in hell of ever sorting such low level stuff out, a whole new industry has been created, endlessly creating more initiatives designed to create the illusion that things are getting worse and politicians are busily dealing with it. Anyone who demurs from this analysis is instantly branded as “soft on yobs” and marginalised.

I wonder how far this is going to continue; surely the wheels will have fallen off within the next five years? The new laws being proposed are so wide-ranging and so arbitrary that eventually the media will get bored of going along with it and switch instead to competing to expose the abuse.

Here’s hoping anyway. In the meantime countless people will be marginalised and criminalised with little discernible benefit to anyone.

Groundhog Day

Well, positives first; at least the BBC story didn’t change much, although they’ve now added a post-meeting write up. We are to believe that everything is now sweetness and light, with the very clear exception of Menzies Campbell (see Nick Robinson’s interview with Kennedy for more light on this).

The question is, where are we now? Charles’ critics have had the opportunity to put up or shut up. They’ve opted to shut up, but for how long this time? Is no-one, not even the lowliest and most disgruntled backbencher, prepared to speak up? If not, then what the fuck has been the point of the past 3 days or so?

Nothing I’ve seen tonight suggests we are anywhere close to seeing a resolution on this issue. The noises off have been sent the signal that Kennedy can’t afford to sack them while Kennedy has been sent the signal that the noises off can’t afford to stand up to him.

The bottom line is that there is no-one in the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party that is of both sufficient calibre or has sufficient experience to in any way challenge Charles; they’ve demonstrated this this week. There is no Hughes, Oaten, Davey or Campbell bandwagon rolling because the first three just don’t cut it and the fourth one is just too old. A serious contender right now would already have at least a dozen identified supporters behind him and could afford to release at least three of them off their leashes to publicly attack Charles. Palpably, this is not the case.

The sensible path is for Kennedy to seriously buck his ideas up and for everyone else to rally behind him until the next General Election; the problem is, I’ve seen nothing at all tonight that suggests that the message has finally got through to either camp.

Expect to see more of this every few months for the foreseeable future until Kennedy finally has enough (although I’d be delighted to be proven wrong).

UPDATE: The morning papers make it clear that this story isn’t going anywhere soon. According to the Guardian, 6 front benchers claim that they have privately called for him to quite while the Independent has concentrated on Menzies Campbell’s pointed refusal to back Charles publicly.

UPDATE 2: The Times is notably more blunt than the others, which I’m sure will come as a complete surprise to many. Not. Bizarrely, they are crediting his downfall to the party funding row they have concocted, which is almost as much nonsense as the claim that all this is a reaction to the Cameron leadership win (admittedly a slight catalyst, but there’s plenty to suggest this issue would be rearing its ugly head now even if Howard were still ploughing on). It mentions this now famous email from Mark Oaten that went out yesterday. I didn’t get a copy of this. Was it something I said?