Friday, May 25, 2007

'Ere Sonny, Take Your Hands Out of Your Pockets

Earlier this week David Cameron did another one of his days 'spending time in the real world' and headed off to Welsh Wales to kick some Welsh LibDem ass experience life on the beat with the Heddlu. He was in Newtown with a police sergeant finding out exactly how stretched rural police can be. Vast areas are patrolled by one or two officers who only have capacity to respond to one emergency at a time. They are short of cells, meaning endless long drives to bigger towns when they are, all too frequently, full. David Cameron went out on patrol in a pursuit car, heard about planning for a VIP visit, witnessed the endless paperwork, spent a morning visiting a rural outpost as well as seeing the daily operations of a town-centre police station. More on his blog HERE.
This visit followed his day in Birmingham with a muslim family and a day in Hull as a teaching assistant. No doubt the comments will be full of people with negative comments about this kind of thing, but I think it's fantastic he's out on the road doing it. Too many politicians get wedded to the Westminster village and lose touch with the real world. None of these visits are pre-publicised and no press is present, so far as I know. He takes his own cameraman to record small parts of each day and then writes it himself up on the WebCameron Blog. It's not written by one of his gofers - he does it himself. Mock all you like, but in my book this is one of the best things he has done as leader.


Anonymous said...

Iain - don't be so naive.

Anonymous said...

If that's true, here, here! I hope some of this ordineriness rubs off on him.

Anonymous said...

"Iain - don't be so naive."


Anonymous said...

Wake up Iain it's a dream ,he thinks us scum will go round telling everybody how nice he is.

Anonymous said...

"one of the best things he has done as leader"

That ain't saying much!

If driving around Wales is the best thing he's done as leader, let's hope that there's room for improvement!

Anonymous said...

I was particularly impressed by how beautifully he painted out the graffiti on that wall. Masterpiece it was, not a mark remaining and him still so immaculate and all. Shows up all us mucky tradesmen in our painty sweatshirts. Didn't even leave a spot of paint on the brush. He's got a real vocation there, if politics doesn't work out.

Anonymous said...

You were right, Iain, the knockers are out in force.
I was dubious about this project, but I have just watched all the videos and I agree with you. You have to hand it to him - he's seeing what it's like at the sharp end, and I hope he learns from it and brings out some worthwhile policies for change.
He's enthusiastic about what he is doing, and it comes across.Good for him. Makes a change from the world-weary scoffers showing up here.

Anonymous said...

Cameron lost touch with the real world the minute he was born. Now he has a complete substitute reality, into which the less fortunate of us have been honoured to be allowed a peep, always providing we vote for him and don't ask any awkward questions of course.

BTW Iain, you are starting to sounding like a star-struck schoolgirl.

Anonymous said...

What is Gordon Brown doing? Probably something boring with a calculator.

I like the fact that DC can be seen down on the farm, hanging in Birmingham, teaching at a school, collecting rubbish in his special van, generally being proactive.

"...You may be disappointed if you fail,
but you are doomed if you don't try."

Oscar said...

Do not agree with most of the comments,I agree with you Iain.
More of this should be done by the others.
What clinches it for me is that they are unannounced and with out the press hanging on.
I saw him in Llandudno a few weeks ago.
He connected well to Joe public.More than could be said of the local association members do and did!!

Anonymous said...

Oscar - you've pointed out a big problem that Cameron faces with the Conservative Party.

Members of local Conservative Associations tend to be to the right of David Cameron - and they are not generally proactive. Their whole approach appears to be outdated. The local Conservative Club in my town could be a 70s set from 'Life on Mars'.

Will Cameron be able to influence these dinosaurs and promote change? It's a tall order - but I think he will gradually make a difference.

Anonymous said...

The tories have been dropping in the polls ever since he embarked on these serial publicity stunts.

I think public are becoming increasingly irritated with his light-touch, light-weight approach to politics.

Anonymous said...

Come on Iain. This is as close to a reality for these families as wiuld be having the Queen to your picnic.

This is just a big media hype and the lazy journos will swallow it hook line and sinker. So it's effective for a leader in a narcissistic age. Good on yer Dave.

Vote Blue, go Red (in Stockton at least). Policies! Policies! Who'll sell me some policies!!

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

These are only worthwhile in the long run if he learns something from them and actively links them with developing policy. I'd love to see something from these 'hands on' stunts actually affect how Cameron and the Party perceive and deal with an issue. Think of it as empirical policy evolution.

Otherwise, they're only good for a quick headline and a short stay as the pollsters' favourite.

Anonymous said...

Philip Davis, MP for Shipley spent his Summer recess in 2006 on patrol with West Yorkshire Police Keighley Division....I think he was with them for 6 weeks.

Then again he is an excellent local MP who has a strong personal franchise....he might well be the only Conservative MP in West Yorkshire unless they find more like him

Anonymous said...

hipley Conservative MP Philip Davies says there are five policing issues that Home Secretary John Reid urgently needs to consider. JIM GREENHALF reports.

Philip Davies has spent 22 days watching the various parts of West Yorkshire Police at work.

The day before Shipley's Conservative MP met me to talk about his experiences, he had been at Wakefield with the Scientific Support Unit - the British version of CSI in the United States.

He said: "It's been an absolute eye-opener, probably the best thing I have ever done. The police were very open. I made it clear that I was coming in to learn about the service - warts and all. They were open and receptive. Colin Cramphorn, the late chief constable, said I was the only West Yorkshire MP who had ever done that."

One of the reasons why Mr Davies enthusiastically took advantage of the Parliamentary Police Scheme, which allows any MP to spend a minimum of 22 days working with their local force, was because crime always comes out as the issue about which his constituents express most concern.

A wide-ranging talk he gave on the subject to Baildon Men's Forum during the Christmas holidays attracted a lunchtime audience of about 70.

"Expectations of the police are greater than on other organisations. A police officer will tell you that his job is to enforce the law, not decide which laws are good and which are bad. I am sure a load of laws could be scrapped from the statute book.

"The police are put in a very difficult position. West Yorkshire Police has a £15m shortfall in its budget. Nobody disputes that. The police are having to choose between keeping open police stations and putting more officers on the beat. The number of stations in Shipley has been halved. I don't think officers should be stopping people who aren't wearing a seat belt, with all the other crime going on," he said.

From his experiences watching the police at work, Mr Davies has outlined five areas of concern.

l Ineffective sentencing by magistrates and judges.

"Many officers told me that removing ten particular people from the streets would reduce crime in my Keighley Division by half; taking 20 people out would cut crime by 90 per cent. Yet this small number of persistent offenders are forever bailed and given pathetic jail sentences. On one occasion I witnessed a court bail the same person to two separate addresses!"

l Cases being tested by the Crown Prosecution Service instead of tried by a court of law.

"There is a clear feeling that the CPS will not proceed unless it is almost certain to result in a successful conviction. They should allow more cases to be tested in court and allow juries to take some of these decisions rather than lawyers acting as the jury themselves."

l Protracted delays inside police stations.

"Custody sergeants are so scared of anything happening to a prisoner in their custody, the waiting time - four hours is not uncommon - pales into insignificance. The Home Office should invest in creating extra capacity at all custody desks to eliminate these queues."

l Officers afraid to take decisions because they are obliged to service the system rather than serve the law.

"There is a debilitating risk-aversion culture with the police, an unwritten and unspoken rule that it is better to avoid making a bad decision than it is to make a good one. Officers of all ranks are so petrified of this they would rather waste any amount of resource or time to ensure that nothing can go wrong and that their backs are covered. This has to stop."

l Too much bureaucracy.

"Whatever a police officer does there appears to be a form to fill in afterwards. There range from a form for stopping somebody to the 19 pages when a missing person is reported. There needs to be a root and branch analysis of all forms, a simplification of some and a bonfire of others."

Before winning Shipley from Labour's Chris Leslie at the 2005 General Election, Mr Davies worked for 11 years for Asda, latterly as a senior marketing manager.

He said: "I believed that the people best placed to know what we should do to improve our performance as a company were the people who worked in our stores.

"Therefore I also firmly believe that the people who are best placed to know what we should do to tackle crime are the people who are dealing with it every day - police officers.

"There have been 54 Criminal Justice Acts in nine years. Parliament is packed with lawyers. Debates on crime can look like a lawyers' dinner party. What we lack is a police perspective. We are not going to tackle crime until we get an effective police perspective on dealing with it.

"It is extremely frustrating to me that, instead, we have to endure a lawyers' intellectual perspective on human rights."

Going behind the scenes soon showed him one glaring structural weakness: the police service is a top-down organisation in which the Home Secretary tells chief constables the criteria on which they will be measured. These priorities are then relayed down the chain of command to divisional commanders.

"It would be better for the police officers on patrol to be the kings and queens of the organisation, feeding up issues they are facing and what would help deal with them. This would lead to the Home Secretary consulting with the police on what barriers needed to be removed.

"Politicians should stop pretending they know everything about everything and accept that they should merely deliver the tools for the experts to get on with the job," he added.

12:27pm Tuesday 9th January 2007

Anonymous said...

It's brilliant that David Cameron is coming out into real communities and meeting real people. Blair and Brown would never do anything like this - certainly not without a hired rentacrowd and massive security presence - because they basically distrust and dislike us ordinary people.

Cameron should do more of these community visits. When he comes out into the community and meets ordinary people on our level it reminds me of the old Cameron, the one I instantly liked and trusted even before he became leader. He so easily relates to people from all walks of life and seems to genuinely like and trust us out here.

That's very positive and wins him so much respect - and achieves more than a hundred speeches talking down to us and telling us that he'll do what he likes and we'll just have to put with it would ever achieve .

I wish David Cameron would rely more on this positive side of himself and cut out the autocratic stuff - which seems so false and just makes me and many others angry with him.

I've even found myself looking at webcameron a few times to see these films of David in the community - and I've felt so angry with him since late last year that I've not wanted to go anywhere near webcameron.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Come on Iain. This is as close to a reality for these families as wiuld be having the Queen to your picnic.

The mother of the family Cameron stopped with said he was like a son to her. She wasn't the type to spin a line. So no monarchy effect there, was there?

Anonymous said...

With him going out and doing all these different jobs it's making me think of David Cameron is becoming a political version of Mr Benn...

Surely now he's leader of the Tories he sould be settled on a career path, and not going out doing work experience?

Anonymous said...

"The mother of the family Cameron stopped with said he was like a son to her"

You mean she shrieked at him to go out and get a proper job and not bring that white trash back to the house?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure I can quite believe this. You mean this chap who has never had a real job becomes admirable because he spends the odd day here and there with "real" people. I can just imagine the excitement of seeing how ordinary people live and work. Something he has never done. How can anybody seriously say this? Btw how do you know he writes all that webcam stuff himself?

Anonymous said...

I'll give Cameron a few marks for effort and a few more for PR as I'm feeling generous but as for achievement??????

Anonymous said...

It was good to see a political leader actually doing something without a media scrum around him. I wish he and others would do this more often so that they can see the issues we have in rural areas rather than everyone thinking it's idyllic.

Roger Thornhill said...

Anon, 9:26 25/5.

Many thanks for sharing that here. I for one have been frustrated at how many lawyers are involved in our parliament. Considering their "union affiliations" it could be seen as a conflict of interest.

The points made all seem rational, reasonable and justified. All should be attended to. We might just get our Police Force back.

Chris Paul said...

The "without the media line" is rubbish when he is providing the Mail etc with the pics. And my recollection of the Birmingham family visit is that the press WERE there and that the family were very well to do and hardly at any frontline.

And we have more police now than 10 years ago despite some slight losses of backroom and ailing uniforms in the last year or so. Plus lots of PSCOs who are very welcome and arguably as well trained as Dixon era bobbies were when they first hit the beat. There's certainly potential there. So it is shocking to hear Tories whining about ... having more police.

And before anyone starts, most of the form filling and procedure and the clumsy IT implementations are also 10 years plus since introduction.

Cameron could have made the same visit with similar problems to the fore 11 or 15 or 20 years ago and he's not kidding me when he pretends he gets it and that Tories are better.

How can we have all these extra poilice and more hospitals and more schools etc and an even greater rate of increase than under Labour without DC actually increasing tax on the rich?