Cooper: Tory “reputation” on law and order “was only ever rhetoric”

One of the key arguments at yesterday’s Progress conference was that Labour, not the Conservatives, are the party who can rightly claim to be the party of law and order.

One of the key arguments at yesterday’s Progress conference was that Labour, not the Conservatives, are the party who can rightly claim to be the party of law and order, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper attacking the Tories head on, saying their “reputation” for being good on law and order “was never justified and was only ever rhetoric”.

Under Conservative governments, she said, “the crime rate always went up”. Cooper contrasted this with Labour’s achievements from 1997-2010, which left them as the only government to ever leave office with a crime rate lower than when they entered.

She added:

“We should be proud of our record and the things that we did, but should also look forward. We need to go further on rehabilitation and preventing re-offending, but also be clear about the checks and balances that we believe should be in place.

“We should stay on the side of communities and victims where we have now stood since the 80s… We need a strong framework on crime and a strong framework on justice.”

Simon Reed, vice chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, reiterated this point about Labour’s achievements and went even further, saying that he never understood why Labour never claimed the credit they were due on reducing crime levels.

He argued that this reduction was entirely due to actions taken by the Labour government in the early years and the work done to build relationships between different bodies within the criminal justice system.

These two messages combined seem to provide a firm foundation for Labour to move forward from; as Cooper said, the Conservatives’ unrelenting focus on reducing the deficit combined with their suspicion of the state runs the risk of undermining not only Labour’s achievements, but also the ability of the police to do their job.

The current practice of briefing against the state is “deeply risky” and will only undermine the good work done by the police.

David Cameron has as yet not made a single major speech on law and order and the last week has shown there are deep fault lines within the coalition on the subject. The front page of today’s Observer further highlights this, with the headline:

“We’re losing our claim to be tough on crime – top Tories”

The panel were united in their agreement that Labour should not stand idly by and watch the coalition’s cuts driven agenda wreck the progress made and should challenge the government to take steps to ensure there is no upwards trend in the crime rate.

Away from Labour’s record, the core of the discussion inevitably focused on the discussion of ‘discounts’ on sentences for criminals. Justice secretary Ken Clarke’s proposed reductions of up to 50 per cent for those who plead guilty drew the ire of both the panel and the audience with such discounts described by Yvette Cooper as:

“…neither justified nor justice.”

There was broad agreement that such measures are not popular with the public and neither is the current approach where the majority of offenders are released after serving 50 per cent of their sentence. Simon Reed argued this “is not justice and not fair on the victims and their families”, adding:

“If people are only going to serve 2-3 years of a six-year sentence, the government and judges need to be honest about this and only sentence them to that shorter period.”

Former cabinet minister Hazel Blears went one step further, suggesting that in cases where the evidence is conclusive and the criminal still refuses to plead guilty, they should be punished by adding additional time to their sentence. Such a move would be popular, given public feelings about discounts, and may also serve to save money, with fewer trials dragged out.

The panel closed with a call for an independent review of the police and the wider criminal justice session – proposals which may well be given more thought soon.

18 Responses to “Cooper: Tory “reputation” on law and order “was only ever rhetoric””

  1. Shamik Das

    Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 @leftfootfwd #PAC11

  2. Michael Tuck

    Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  3. Tom Rouse

    Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  4. Ian Stuart Goudie

    @leftfootfwd @TRouse11 Cooper: Tory law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11 "Just like that!"

  5. Simon Reed

    Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  6. Andrew Fenlon

    Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  7. Tories Hate Women

    Yvettte Coooper makes an excellent point.

    The Conservative party are anti-state and the police are an arm of the state and so the Conservative are essentially anti-police. The only reason they ever kept the police on side was to do their dirty work when they wanted to attack the state and needed the police to protect them from those who resisted.

    It would appear the police have now cottoned on to this fact and are no longer willing to be the Tory parties underpaid patsies.

  8. Bob G

    Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  9. Mr. Sensible

    There is an important debate to be had on sentencing, but there is only 1 motivation behind current policy; cutting costs.

  10. Joanna Farmer

    Don't care if tough law and order is Tory or not; do care that the party of the 'left' gets more authoritarian daily: //t.co/JtaEKkq

  11. AltGovUK

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  12. SlashedUK

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cooper: Tory "reputation" on law and order "was only ever rhetoric": //bit.ly/iuEZJY reports @TRouse11 #PAC11

  13. Anon E Mouse

    This woman is an perfect example of what has become of the once proud Labour Party and losing touch with ordinary people.

    All the frowning, nodding and looking serious as we pay for her food and expenses to make her and her husband millionaires is truly sickening.

    If Labour are determined to stay in opposition and from their performance under Miliband it seems they are, all they need to do is get this woman on the media as often as possible.

    But (as much as this is going to hurt) I do agree with her point here about the government talking tough on crime and doing exactly the opposite…

  14. Anon E Mouse

    Tories Hate Women – I certainly hope the Tories are anti-state after CCTV, ID Cards, Terrorism Act, detention without trial and all the other lies and stunts from that last awful government under the unelected Gordon Brown.

    There was a time when Labour weren’t bloodthirsty warmongers who slavishly sucked up to republican US presidents you know.

    Ask David Kelly’s widow – she knows…

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