LondonNet News Headlines
12/12/00
New Labour in Crime Crack Down
- More powers for police as Blair aims right for a second term

EXTRA police powers are to form the centre-piece of today's Queen's Speech, an annual address to the nation which is delivered by the monarch but written by government of the day.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is to confirm the rightward drift of his (New) Labour Party by making crime the cornerstone of his bid to win the next general election, now almost certain to be held in the early months of next year.

"You will see we are totally serious about giving the police the powers they need to crack down and you will see the work on crime continuing at every level," said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister.

Those powers are likely to include new laws to let the police declare curfews on under 16s as and when senior officers see fit, fixed UKP100 penalties for drunken behaviour and a new attempt to restrict the right to trial by jury. Revealingly, the Government's own figures have shown a drop in most crimes in recent years.

In fact, the so-called fight against crime has little to do with reality, but represents Blair's attempt to win back the support of sections of the right-wing populist media who have lately lambasted the government for its willingness to move, however tentatively, towards a more integrated Europe.

Despite his dance to the right, Blair will have trouble keeping in step with the tabloids' tune, thanks to the pull of the increasingly extremist opposition Tory Party. Yesterday, Tory leaders unveiled some of their own schemes for the future, including a fresh assault on welfare handed to single parents, a group that is, by any objective standards, one of the poorest in the country and one which has already seen its benefits cut by the present administration.




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