Labor will put tackling crime at the heart of its May local election campaign amid signs the scandal surrounding Boris Johnson over alleged anti-lockdown rallies in Downing Street is seriously damaging the Tories’ reputation as the party of law and order.
The move by Keir Starmer’s party comes as Tory MPs say local councilors and constituency associations are telling them they don’t want the Prime Minister hitting the campaign trail or appearing in party literature before the May 5 election because the issue of parties breaking the rules inside No 10 is so toxic.
A Conservative MP told the Observer“Members of my association told me that it was better for the Prime Minister to stay away and that they wanted it to be only local people campaigning on local issues. They think our only chance of doing OK is to keep those associated with Partygate completely out of sight.
Last week – a sign that Johnson is seen by Tory strategists as more of a liability than an asset – the Tories aired a party political broadcast that made no mention of him, referring only to who he claimed to be a list of government achievements, such as the immunization program.
The work, however, is determined to remind people of Johnson’s role in the scandal and to highlight the questions the controversy raises about following the law and committing to fighting crime. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said there was a clear link between Johnson’s lack of respect for the rules of No 10 and her party’s failure to prioritize the fighting crime in local areas.
“Boris Johnson shows a complete disrespect for the rule of law in Downing Street and a complete disrespect for the people who suffer when the law breaks down in their communities,” Cooper said. “We will campaign hard against crime in the local election campaign because our communities deserve so much better.”
Alarmingly for the Tories, the latest Opinium poll figures show that Labor is now ahead on the issue of crime. Thirty-two percent of those polled said they thought Starmer’s party would handle the issue best, compared to 29% who preferred the Conservatives.
No 10 confirmed that the Prime Minister, along with around 50 other people, had been given a Downing Street holiday questionnaire by the Metropolitan Police, which they should ‘truthfully’ complete within seven days.
Labor says Johnson and his party have also resorted to misrepresenting crime figures to hide their poor record. Earlier this month, the head of Britain’s Statistics Authority chastised the Prime Minister and the Priti Patel-led Home Office for saying crime had fallen by 14%, excluding the category at the fastest growing, fraud and computer crime.
Sir David Norgrove said he would write to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary pointing out what he called their “misleading” use of statistics. When fraud and computer crime are taken into account, the latest official data shows that crime is now 14% higher than before the pandemic, with the rate of cases resulting in charges having fallen to an all-time high of just 6% of reported crimes.
Police figures also show that since the lockdown ended last summer, recorded crime has risen dramatically, including a sharp rise in violent crime, which is now 20% higher than in the same period before. the pandemic.
At the same time, the proportion of cases leading to in-person violence charges has fallen from 14.6% in 2016 to just 5.4% in 2021. This means prosecutions for only one in 20 violent crimes. robbery charge rates fell from 12.2% in 2015 to 6.9% in 2021, those for theft fell from 8.3% to 4.3% and those for rape fell from 5.9% only 1.3%.
Local elections in England, Wales and Scotland will be a huge electoral test for the Tories and a high-risk moment for Johnson, if he hasn’t already been ousted from Downing Street in a confidence vote. by its own deputies.
Cooper said Labor was determined to show it was the ‘true party of law and order’ by promoting its own policies, including putting neighborhood ‘police centres’ back into communities to fight against crime.
A new Opinionium survey for the Observer shows that Labor is now also neck and neck with the Tories when voters are asked which party would be best to lead the economy, another area where the Tories have traditionally been strong. Some 30% say the Tories would run the economy best, compared to 29% who say Labour.
Overall, based on a new methodology first used by Opinium last week, Labor is at 37%, the Tories at 34%. The Lib Dems are at 11%, the Greens at 6%, the SNP at 3%, the Plaid at 1% and the others at 8%. Opinium says the new methodology gives a more accurate picture of where voters stand. But the company says the figures do not represent any drop in support for Labor – if the old methodology had been used, the headline figures would have sent Labor up three points from a fortnight ago to 42% and the Tories down two from 32%.