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In Response to Ministers clash over rival plans to tackle gangs


To do any justice to the response to Ministers clash over rival plans to tackle gangs’ article in the Independent Newspaper I decided to enclose the whole of the content.

Ministers Clash Over Rival Plans To Tackle Gangs

The all-out war that David Cameron promised to wage on gangs after the August riots is threatening to turn into one between government departments.

The Prime Minister appointed the Home Secretary Theresa May and the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith as joint heads of the so-called “gangs committee”, which held its first meeting last week.

But already it has run into problems because Mr Duncan Smith, who spent months in opposition working on problems of social exclusion, has long-term plans to set gang members back on the straight and narrow. He wants to introduce an anti-gangs strategy modelled on those tried out in Boston,Massachusetts, and in Strathclyde, both of which were highly praised by David Cameron. But his ambitious proposals are not popular with the police, who face drastic cuts to their budgets and object to the potential cost.

Theresa May, who is involved in introducing directly elected police commissioners and changes to police pay, is anxious to avoid another source of friction with chief constables. She also wants to be able to demonstrate that the Government has acted quickly – rather than relying on a strategy that could take years to show results.

The Government has yet to act on a detailed report published in June last year by the chief inspectors of prisons, probation and constabulary, which called for the appointment of a gangs coordinator everywhere that gangs are operating, to take charge of finding out who they are and coordinate an approach that would punish troublemakers while trying to induce gang members to give up the life.

One of the problems, the report highlighted, is that government agencies have not even agreed a definition of what they mean by a “gang”. The report broadly backed Mr Duncan Smith’s strategy of getting the police and community to work together to separate gang members from the leaders and persuade them to break with the gangs.

The Labour MP Karen Buck, whose constituents in Westminster North have major problems with gangs, said: “I’m sure there is inter-departmental stress over who is in charge. My view is that, although it’s good that Iain Duncan Smith and other ministers see that there is a need for a multi-agency strategy rather than a simple law and order strategy, there is also a problem with Iain Duncan Smith’s approach, in that it is designed to deal with the problem in two or three years’ time.

“We really have to intervene to tackle the problem as it stands. It has escalated in the past three or four years. In my constituency there were seven stabbings in just over a week in June.”

On Thursday, Theresa May will meet representatives of Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry to discuss the Government’s threat to close down social media if there is more disorder.

My Instincts is of:

1) How many of us was round when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister as most of the ideas that Duncan Smith, Theresa May, and David Cameron originated by the brains of Thatcher.

2) Young people who were not born when she left office know who she was, have a strong idea of what she stood for, and hold pronounced views on whether she was good or bad for Britain. Each of her successors has paid homage to her. It greatly distressed John Major that she never rated him as a successor. Tony Blair invited her to revisit Downing Street in 1998. She was invited back by Gordon Brown only two months into his premiership.

3) A few names from the Thatcher era have been brought back into the news by the return of the Conservatives to government, such as Lord Young of Graffham, once one of her favourites. She said of him that while other ministers brought her problems, he brought solutions. After 21 years out of office, Lord Young is running a Government inquiry into health and safety regulations.

4) More importantly, Mrs Thatcher’s long shadow hung over the drastic budget introduced by George Osborne last week. After the experience of the 1930s, it was accepted orthodoxy that governments do not cut public spending in a recession, but use borrowed money to stimulate growth. Mrs Thatcher was the first post-war leader to do the opposite, 30 years ago.

5) That it worked for Mrs Thatcher then, in that it kept her in power for more than a decade, though at the cost of driving unemployment above three million and devastating the economic base of large parts of the country. David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg now hope it will work for them.

6) Though she puts in an occasional appearance in the House of Lords, she has not spoken in the chamber since 6 July 1999. Her last speech there was not her finest. It was a eulogy to that blood-soaked dictator Augusto Pinochet of Chile, who, according to Baroness Thatcher, was “being victimised because the organised international Left are bent on revenge”.

7) It was indicative of Mrs Thatcher’s thought processes that she saw a military dictator who overthrew an elected President as a “long-standing friend of Britain” while all the time that Nelson Mandela was in prison he was, in her eyes, the head of a terrorist organisation.

8 But the forthright way that she gave voice to her right-wing opinions are a large part of her lasting fascination. We are so accustomed to being smothered with bland sentiments by politicians that we have almost forgotten what it was like to have a prime minister who told it like she saw it.

9) Margaret Thatcher really said “there is no such thing as society”, in an interview with a woman’s magazine. She was making a serious if highly contentious point about self-reliance and the welfare state. Just before the Falklands conflict turned bloody, she actually stood on the steps of Downing Street and ordered the journalists there to “rejoice”. On her birth of her first grandchild, she truly did step forth to announce “we are a grandmother”. These days, no one reaches the front rank of politics until they have been carefully coached not to say anything so memorable

10) Yet under both the Conservatives and Labour they have failed to address the root causes of why there are gangs in the UK instead both present and previously thought by throwing money at grant projects were the answers to solve the problems of the deprive communities that it will solve the problems.

11) I’ll say it might have been worth mentioning that Blair could have attacked Cameron’s actions in a slightly more political context such as perhaps claiming that scrapping EMA and trebling tuition as well also slashing the education budget and making local government cuts to the point where many councils up and down the country are being forced to close down many youth centres and community centres is as I have spoken to many young people in my opinion played a massive part in the recent riots and gang culture.

12) The Labour MP Karen Buck, whose constituents in Westminster North have major problems with gangs, said: “I’m sure there is inter-departmental stress over who is in charge. My view is that, although it’s good that Iain Duncan Smith and other ministers see that there is a need for a multi-agency strategy rather than a simple law and order strategy, there is also a problem with Iain Duncan Smith’s approach, in that it is designed to deal with the problem in two or three years’ time.

13) I still maintain that if Labour is to understand the riot causes of the riots and gang culture the party can start a new era of winning both seats from working and middle classes and even more. Labour Councillors up and the country has been warning MPs that if we don’t start to engage in our communities we could end up back in opposition for a very long time to come.

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