Their site like Frankensteins monster as come to life at last. I wonder what positive jewels we may uncover?
John Healey has hit back at claims that the government is not prioritising housing.
Alan Johnson today said he would “use the Fiona Pilkington case” to force the police to do more to tackle antisocial behaviour as Gordon Brown prepared to use his speech to the Labour conference to announce new measures to deal with the problem.
The home secretary said the revelations about Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter after a decade of abuse from youths, showed why tackling antisocial behaviour should be a priority.
Brown will concentrate on the issue in his conference speech, outlining a return to the Blairite agenda of tough measures on irresponsible parenting and social breakdown.
The speech offers the beleaguered prime minister an opportunity to reconnect with middle Britain and rescue his drifting leadership.
Johnson – who is also speaking to the conference today – said that although Labour had made antisocial behaviour a priority after 1997, it had let the issue slip down the agenda more recently.
“We did not put enough focus just on carrying on with the scourge of antisocial behaviour,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
“We need to keep working on it. We need to ensure that all police authorities everywhere are [concentrating on antisocial behaviour]. We have to use the Fiona Pilkington case to make sure that they are doing it everywhere.”
In his speech, Brown will say that the parents of errant children must lose access to benefits unless they agree to accept support to improve their parenting skills.
The move reflects overwhelming internal polling evidence that the public wants stronger action on antisocial behaviour and blames society’s ills on family breakdown.
Brown’s move represents a return to the tough programme that served Tony Blair well politically but was initially rejected as too punitive by the Brownite circle.
His speech – the last address to conference before the general election – is being crafted to show that he has not been just a safe steward of the world economy, but will also be a leader capable of understanding voters’ anger over MPs’ expenses, crime and the greed of bankers.
Brown’s aides have resolved to support the prime minister taking part in TV debates during the general election. He is expected to propose three debates, covering home affairs, foreign policy and economics.
In a lengthy passage on the state of society in today’s speech, Brown will reject David Cameron’s claim that Britain is broken, but will admit “the decent, hard-working majority are getting ever more angry – rightly so – with the minority who will talk about their rights, but never about their responsibilities”.
He will say that the parents of any child guilty of antisocial behaviour will be automatically subject to a parenting contract.
And he will promise that all 50,000 of Britain’s most chaotic families will be required, by 2015, to attend family intervention projects, a form of intensive, often residential, one-to-one support.
Labour aides claimed these projects would be available on every problem estate in England. The fourfold expansion of family intervention projects, costing broadly £50m over two years, could in the long run save £3bn, in lower welfare and crime bills.
He will seek to address voter anger over binge drinking by extending the so-called drinks Asbos nationwide, requiring courts to consider a drink-banning order against anyone convicted of a crime or public order offence while under the influence of alcohol.
These orders will give courts powers to ban troublemakers from entering premises.
The shift in rhetoric, part of a general attempt to hit a more populist note, reflects pressure from Johnson for the government to regain the antisocial behaviour agenda developed by Blair but rejected by many professionals working with young people.
In his first major speech on crime in the summer, Johnson admitted that a period of intense activity by the government on antisocial behaviour had been followed by “a certain degree of complacency on the issue”.
He immediately announced measures to cut delays of up to two years in getting the courts to issue an Asbo, making it easier for problems to be reported and to provide more counselling support for victims.
The renewed official interest in Asbos follows two years during which their popularity dwindled.
The number of new orders issued was down by 30% and the children’s secretary, Ed Balls, said he hoped to live in “the kind of society that puts Asbos behind us”.
It may sound daft but this to me is the fun of politics, characters who give it fun and old world charm. The crazy get ups and how many nights have they raised a smile on TV. God bless them and long may they reign.