Thursday, October 02, 2008

Con-Watch: Cameron Calls Up Spectre of Thatcher

Whereas the general currency of the Conservative Conference has been this "Blue Labour" phenomenon, essentially the same as New Labour programmes, re-announced as if new found Conservative ideas, except much much more of it on much less money, the Cam speech seemed to reach out to the dwindling core vote and dwindling activist base.

Praise be to Maggie Thatcher he said, replacing the nominally "experienced" James Callaghan. There can be no sensible comparison in my view of either Callaghan and Brown or Cameron and Thatcher. But isn't it interesting that Cam should want to big up that infamous big-stater Baroness Snatcher just now?

As with the speeches from Cam's swivel-eyed colleagues this one was light on facts and light on figures. We've heard dog whistles on Europe, Overseas Aid, Immigration, Luxury Hospitals, Airport Restriction, The Sacred Family, oh yes. Increasingly bizarre or so what!? anecdotes, yes. Unevidenced assertions, yes. But true facts and true figures? Not a whiff. Not as such.

Will there be more to follow Cam's germ of a non-anecdote from Afghanistan? And will there be another anecdote as bizarre as Dominic Grieve's double-barrelled have-a-go former Traffic Warden and Store Detective? Locked up, rightly or wrongly, to cool off following an arguably over-enthusiastic citizens arrest?

Like Wendy Challis-Jones who chased a bike thief, wrestled him to the ground and arrested him.
When officers arrived they arrested her for assault, took her DNA and held her for 10 hours in a cell before releasing her without charge.
That’s no way to treat someone with two commendations for bravery won over twenty years working as a traffic warden and store detective in her community.
No wonder people in this country fear standing up to criminals.

The full (Daily Mail, Feb 2007) story forming this anecdotal evidence is right here. Ms Challis-Jones (right), who is now a gardener, was reported by witnesses for going over the top with aggressive driving and punching the teenage suspect. But she was released without charge and thanked for her efforts. There was even an apology for her ordeal.

It is hard to see how the police could have let this woman go without some investigation. She was reported for dangerous driving, for mounting the kerb, and for assaulting the suspect. Commendations do not buy immunity. Is that what Grieve and Cameron want? A licence to beat youths on suspicion?

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