Crime is becoming a key battleground
Simon Danczuk, businessman, author and former MP, looks at Labour’s attack campaign and crime is becoming a key battleground for local elections.
As Easter approached, electioneering got elevated to the next level. The Conservative Government came out tough on child grooming gangs.
Labour retaliated with an attack advert stating: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t. Under the Tories, 4,500 adults convicted of sexually assaulting children under 16 served no prison time. Labour will lock up dangerous child abusers.”
With crime moving up the public’s list of priorities it has become a key background for the main political parties
We all recall the horrific grooming scandals, from the early 2000s onwards, in Rochdale, Rotherham, Telford and elsewhere. It was estimated that at least 1,400 girls, some as young as 11, were sexually abused, primarily by groups of Pakistani men, in Rotherham alone.
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, and Rishi Sunak decided to focus on this by announcing task forces to go into key council areas to tackle the problem. They’ve also started consulting on introducing mandatory reporting of abuse, which means if you suspect it, you are obliged to report it.
The policy is justified, the Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse (IICA), recommended last October, mandatory reporting and estimate that around 500,000 children are sexually abused every year in England and Wales.
Labour’s attack advert is a response to these announcements. Labour using child sex abuse as negative campaigning in the hope of smearing Sunak, and gaining an electoral advantage, could backfire.
The public is well aware that Labour’s record on tackling child abuse is pitiful
Starmer and colleagues only recently opposed stronger sentencing for criminals. Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions when Jimmy Saville was let off by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Labour has been in control of councils where many of the grooming gangs have operated. There are examples of Labour councillors colluding to cover up, or brush over, the abuse to the point where victims were ignored. My own experience with Labour, whilst I was one of their MPs, was just as bad. Representing the town when the Rochdale grooming scandal broke, I was told by senior Labour figures not to mention the ethnicity or religion of the perpetrators for fear of upsetting multicultural relations and reducing electoral support within related communities.
With Labour fixated on diversity, celebrating multi-culturalism, and often being on the side of the perpetrator, rather than the victim, the public won’t buy into their attack adverts. People won’t be convinced Labour are going to tackle child abuse.
Simon Danczuk is a businessman, author and former MP who represented the constituency of Rochdale between 2010 and 2017. He has co-written two books, Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith and Scandal at Dolphin Square.