23 March 2016

Poem-A-Day #23 : The Fight Against Crime (Thatcher Erased 4)

And since the elections, it sometimes seems we are the only (Thatcher Erased)
          - from a speech delivered by Margaret Thatcher in 1987

4. The Fight Against Crime

But our greatest concern, in inner cities and elsewhere, is to reverse the tide of crime which disfigures our lives. On Wednesday, we debated crime with a depth of concern that reflects the feelings of every decent person in the country. Crime invades homes; it breaks hearts; it drags down neighbourhoods; and it spreads fear. The Government is playing its full part in the fight against crime. We have strengthened the Police. We have introduced tougher sentences. Violent crime concerns us, above all. It's not just that violent crime is worse than other crime. It's much worse.

And that's why we are now taking still tougher action against knives and against guns. Even so the feeling persists that some of the sentences passed by the courts have not measured up to the enormity of crime.

And so as Douglas Hurd announced this week, we shall be introducing legislation to provide for an appeal against sentences which are too lenient. And may I point out it will be the second time this Government has brought a measure of this kind before Parliament. And I hope that this time it will receive a speedy passage on to the statute book. But we shall make little progress in the drive against crime if we expect the police and the courts to take on the whole burden.

When we are sick, we turn to the doctor; yet we accept responsibility for taking care of our health. When fire breaks out, we call in the Fire Brigade; yet we know it is up to us to take sensible precautions against fire. So it is with crime. There is enormous scope for the public to help the police in what, after all, is a common duty: in neighbourhood watch; in businesses watch; in crime prevention; in prompt reporting of crime seen or suspected; and in readiness to give evidence.

But even that is not enough. Civilised society doesn't just happen. It has to be sustained by standards widely accepted and upheld.

And we must draw on the moral energy of society. And we must draw on the values of family life. For the family is in the first place where we learn those habits of mutual love, tolerance and service on which every healthy nation depends for its survival.

It was Sir William Haley, the great Editor of The Times, who, twenty years ago, said this, "There are things which are bad and false and ugly and no amount of argument or specious casuistry will make them good or true or beautiful. It is time that these things were said". And he said them. But if we are to succeed today, all those in authority must recover that confidence and speak with a strong, emphatic and single voice. Because too often, they speak in different and conflicting voices. The great majority of crimes are committed by young people, in their teens and early twenties. It is on such impressionable young people that anti-police propaganda and the glamorisation of crime can have the most deadly effect. And when left-wing councils and left-wing teachers criticize the police they give moral sanction to the criminally inclined. When the broadcasters flout their own standards on violent television programmes, they risk a brutalising effect on the morally unstable.

When the Labour Party refuses to support the Prevention of Terrorism Act—an Act that saves lives—they weaken society, they weaken society's resistance to the modern scourge of terrorism. Local councils, teachers, broadcasters, politicians: all of us have a responsibility to uphold the civilised values which underpin the law.

We owe it to society of which we are a part. And we owe it especially to future generations who will inherit the society that we create. (Applause)