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Hague on police moral

Playing the Race Card?

Hague also attacked PC this week and caused quite a stir in doing so. It was said that he muddled his statistics but he faced a full counter attack, on the BBC from Wednesday and in the Guardian on Friday, to a 17-page speech to the Centre of Policy Studies.

Hague's thesis was that the Macpherson Report has drastically lowered the morale of the police with the result that the streets are less safe even for blacks. Hague vowed to "take on and defeat the attitude of the liberal elite that has never trusted the police and now wants us to believe they are all racists" (Daily Mail 14 December p2). This year's British Crime Survey shows robberies up by 14%, muggings up 2% and violence against a stranger up 29%. The police have become like social workers in adopting a caring and compassionate outlook with the victims, but doing little about pursuing the culprits. The police like the new technology that they have been given, but it tends to take them away from the streets. Hague might have added that the forms the victims have to fill in merely to report a crime tends to make them think that the police can only waste their time. Hague says he had been talking to black teenagers who had told him that the police had "lost it" and it was they who got the worst of the street attacks. Various black activists on the BBC did not reject that idea, as the interviewers seemed to expect. In his speech Hague cited The Voice, a leading black newspaper, as holding that it was black teenagers who bore the brunt of street attacks. He thinks they are right that it is the black communities themselves that suffer the brunt of the street attacks and he seems to have taken that idea from the black media. 178 let out on the early release scheme re-offend, so Hague called for the repeal of that scheme. He also said the police numbers were way down since 1997.

On Any Questions, 15 December, Jack Straw claimed that Hague was "playing the race card" i.e., appealing to racism. In fact, it is Straw that is playing the PC anti-racist card, and he never grows tired of it. But it is a mere five of hearts that he wishes to do the work of an ace or a king and this is where the Jack is the knave. The Macpherson Report did not say that all the police were racists within the concept of institutional racism, says Jack. The Tories had welcomed the Macpherson Report in a speech in the House of Commons delivered by Norman Fowler. Paddy Ashdown said that Hague was either a knave or a naïve fool on this when it is clearly Ashdown who is the latter. John Redwood said that they had not read the speech with sufficient care.

The backlash has continued and Hague repeated some of what he said in his speech in The Sunday Telegraph. The Mail on Sunday (p11) reported that Portillo thought the speech unwise. It was also said that Francis Maude thought much the same, but on The World This Weekend he denied that the speech was racist or that he or Portillo thought it unwise. The media took this as a division in the Tories and they trotted out the dogma that divided parties are never elected, forgetting that Wilson and Thatcher won most elections since 1960 whilst leading split parties. The last thing the media hacks do is to think. On Monday, the parents of the boy killed in Peckham complained that Hague was using his death as a political football and Straw repeated that in playing the race card Hague had gone too far. But Hague came back on 18 December to say that if Labour were to win the next election there would be other boys found dead on the streets. On Sunday 17 December, Clare Short said that Jack Straw was right and the black trade union leader, Bill Morris, also said on Breakfast with Frost that it was a return to the outlook of Enoch Powell. But the attack on the Nigerian boy was not racist and nor is the main idea that Hague has taken from The Voice. Maybe Straw feels it to be so. Hague's speech was an attack on an anti-racist report and Jack thinks that any attack on anti-racism has to be racist. If so, then that is merely a non sequitur. To say that a report has lowered police morale and that crime has risen as a result is not racist at all.

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In his speech Hague cited The Voice, a leading black newspaper, as holding that it was black teenagers who bore the brunt of street attacks. He thinks they are right that it is the black communities themselves that suffer the brunt of the street attacks and he seems to have taken that idea from the black media.