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Why is no party talking about the Hackney shooting?

We haven’t heard much from either party on law and order. Credit: Getty

May 30, 2024 - 1:00pm

The famed strategist Helmuth von Moltke once said that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, and this is as true of politics as war. Even if a party goes into a campaign with a carefully prepared grid (and there’s little sign of that), over six weeks it will be at the mercy of both the other side and, even less predictably, outside events.

Will last night’s shooting in Hackney, in which three adults were injured and a child left in “serious condition”, prove to be the sort of bolt from the blue that campaign strategists dread?

It surely ought to be; with Rishi Sunak’s decision to try and frame the election on the vague idea of ‘security’, how can the safety of the public not be front and centre?

But we haven’t heard much from either party on law and order yet, beyond Labour’s promise to adopt a ‘Blair-style approach’ to policing the streets.

It’s no mystery why the Conservatives aren’t putting the spotlight on crime. In the weeks before Rishi Sunak called the election, we learned that the shortage of prison places has become so acute that ministers have extended an emergency scheme to release inmates 70 days early.

Worse still, leaked guidance to chief constables revealed that they are being advised to pause so-called “non-priority arrests”, which mostly seemed to mean those where the police hadn’t got round to doing basic work like checking CCTV.

That comes on top of a growing trend of judges handing down lenient sentences because they know there isn’t the capacity to jail everyone they send down — when they even get to trial, that is, because years of underfunding have seen courts pushing back hearings for years.

On paper, this should be an open goal for Labour. The core problem driving many of these problems is the Government’s failure to build new prisons, both because the Treasury hates spending money, but crucially because even the most hardline Tory MP tends to fiercely oppose any new jail in their constituency.

Sir Keir Starmer could pledge to build a raft of new rural prisons in Conservative (and Liberal Democrat) seats, and score a quick win by reversing insane decisions such as Ken Clarke’s closure and sale of HMP Lancaster, which is currently a tourist attraction.

As yet, however, he hasn’t because as a raft of Tory MPs go, the problems of building in Britain won’t go with them.  Nor does it seem likely that Starmer’s MPs will want to see scarce public funding diverted into law and order if it means their preferred spending programmes lose out; and that’s before we even get to the Left’s ideological discomfort with proven police tactics such as stop and search.

Both leaders may also be helped by the press. It’s a sad fact that shocking crime stories have become so common as to be part of the background noise of British news, meaning even an individually shocking story such as last night’s is less likely to stand out.

Moreover, the problem is so widespread that there isn’t a single, obvious campaign demand that might induce the papers to focus on it.

One can well imagine how much the Hackney shooting might have been amplified if, for example, this country had not already banned handguns: multiple days of inside-spread coverage, thundering editorials, the works. But we did (for all the good it did), so now a shooting is just another story.


Henry Hill is Deputy Editor of ConservativeHome.

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Utter
Utter
24 days ago

It is a good thing that no party is, yet, using this tragedy to spin political gain. It may change, if circumstances reveal a clear political angle; but it is too early to assume that there is. Let’s not import all of America’s toxic political trends.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
24 days ago

What would be the point of launching your new Laura Norder Policy on the basis of a possible crime, where no-one even knows why it happened ?

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
24 days ago

Hill refers to HMP Lancaster, and says it’s “currently a tourist attraction”.
This is criminally bad journalism! What he’s referring to is Lancaster Castle, which used to house inmates (and where the infamous Pendle witch trials were held) but which is now wholly unsuitable and too expensive to run as a modern prison. Labelling Ken Clarke as being “insane” to close it makes me fear for the sanity of this author.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
24 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Wondered for a minute whether this writer is really Talia Perkins due to the ability to write a lot of lines, while referring to a lot of sources, which haven’t been read & none of which make any sense.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
24 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Maybe Jazzy Ken is indeed sane. But ask the Infected Blood campaigners for a word to describe him and it will not – should not – be polite.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
24 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Glad you verified that as I was wondering if he referred to Lancaster Castle.
The last time I visited the place, the court room was still in use – I’m not sure if that is also still the case.
Either way, Lancaster Castle is better off a tourist attraction than active prison.

T Redd
T Redd
24 days ago

Don’t make the USA progressives mistake and lighten up on criminals and drop cops and let people go so fast. Keep the thumb down hard on crime. Most criminals will always be criminals….a small % change, most never do..

Matt M
Matt M
24 days ago

I get my news exclusively from UnHerd, The Spectator and a few podcasts. I completely shun social and mainstream media. If Henry Hill hadn’t mentioned this story, I would have been oblivious to it. I heard a pollster the other day saying how hard it has become to gauge public reaction to news stories because so many people actively avoid news. This, and not indifference, is probably the reason for muted reactions to particular events.

j watson
j watson
24 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Come on MM, it’s one thing giving the impression one rattles round an echo-chamber, another altogether confirming it.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
24 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Whether for good or ill, a lot of people do that. I live a mile away from where this happened, and I didn’t know about it either. I don’t go to the BBC much anymore, and it was busy this morning so I didn’t check many other outlets.
And like a lot of people, I prefer commentary to news, because of how debased most news reporting is these days.
Ultimately, it’s not my fault news orgs have let their standards erode away.

Matt M
Matt M
24 days ago
Reply to  j watson

What do you mean J? I get a whole spectrum of opinions – everything from Douglas Murray to Rod Liddle 🙂

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
24 days ago

The truth is that #Welfarism & the #NHS have been front and centre when it comes to spending.
This has resulted in so much decline in our security, our roads and much else.
Welfarism is destroying our economy and our values.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
24 days ago

Indeed. And just you wait. Hyper individualistic Human Rights entitlement is the core force behind the progressive movement. The right not to be poor, not to be hungry, not to be homeless and not to feel pain will be enshrined in laws by the Starmerites, locking us forever in a Welfarist & Euthanisia Cage.

j watson
j watson
24 days ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Comical. So 14 years of the Right being in power and we haven’t enough prison places for basic Law and Order, yet it’s someone else’s fault. The contortions some pull are quite remarkable.

j watson
j watson
24 days ago

Good grief, so cut welfare and reduce crime. Are you for the birds RC?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
24 days ago

The number one role of govt is public safety. Without that, little good will follow. There is a poison among the elected class across the West to ignore that reality, to the detriment of the law-abiding. American cities are becoming virtually lawless, with the Boston mayor suggesting this week that certain crimes no longer be considered crimes.
That sort of idiocy will continue until the people behind such ideas are personally affected by the results. Until then, the people are on notice – no one is coming for you. Unless you resist, of course, in which case you are the criminal.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
24 days ago

Let’s be honest … this is yet another ethnic crime and as such just another immigration fail. It’s going to get a lot worse very soon.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
24 days ago

No room for a drive-by shooting on the news; we’re too busy discussing Diane Abbott’s skin colour (is this her patch, by the way ?).

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
23 days ago

Has the story been reported on MSM?