Menzies Campbell’s new year message: “I’m listening”

Menzies CampbellHappy New Year to each and every one of you.

For me, 2006 has been a year unlike any other. Becoming leader of a political party is both a privilege and a great responsibility. I am determined to make the very best of our Party’s opportunities and I believe that we have made a
good start.

I want to take this opportunity to draw your attention to a serious matter. It makes me angry when I meet people up and down the country who have had their lives ruined by crime. We all want to live in a safe and secure environment. I am determined that our Party should use next year as an opportunity to show how we can make that happen.

But we need your help.
I want you to join our New Year campaign: We Can Cut Crime. It will set out our ideas about how to make Britain safer for everyone.

Liberal Democrats are already working at a local level to cut crime. Through
positive and pragmatic measures, our Party has had great success in cutting
crime.

In Liverpool, we have slashed domestic burglary by 24% through such practical policies as gating off back alleys between homes, and in Newcastle violent crime has fallen by 12%, after a rise of 54% in 2002-04, when its Council was under Labour control.

By contrast our opponents talk tough, but Labour has presided over the
wholesale degeneration of our criminal justice system: overcrowded prisons; one of the highest reoffending rates in the western world; falling conviction rates for serious violent crimes like rape; high levels of public fear of crime and antisocial behaviour; a demoralised probation service; and constant attacks by the government on judges. Making matters worse, Tony Blair has put more than 3,000 new criminal offences on to the statute book since coming to power. His legacy is clear: tough talk, headline-grabbing gimmicks and poor performance.

As for the Conservatives, who knows what they think? One day David Cameron wants to hug a hoodie, the next he is calling for ever-larger prison numbers.

By contrast, we have effective ideas for cutting crime. Together, we can put
these into action with concrete results.

Ours is a party that is liberal in principle, but more effective in cutting
crime than our opponents.

The Party is currently considering a policy document entitled Crime in the
Community and I have asked our Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Clegg to do some radical and innovative thinking about the best and most practical ways to cut crime.

This will include a new approach to sentencing, the reform of our over-crowded prison system, tackling town centre violence and closing the revolving door of repeat offending.

That thinking will form the basis of the We Can Cut Crime campaign.

Our campaign is aptly named. We know that crime can be reduced and we know that we are the party to do it. I am determined to show that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can tackle crime both honestly and effectively.

We can and should be seen as the party that will cut crime.

But we need your help to ensure that this message reaches the public.

So I want to set you a challenge for the New Year. I am asking you to consider how you think the Party can sharpen its message on crime and make clear our priorities. Below are five questions on crime. Please consider them carefully and let me know your views. Your experiences and opinions will be crucial to informing this vital campaign.

1. Have you ever been the victim of crime and, if so, would you be prepared to share your experiences?

2. How do you think that we can make prison, and other aspects of the criminal justice system, work better?

3. What are the crime issues of most concern to people in your area?

4. What have been the most successful local initiatives for cutting crime in
your area?

5. Are you, or any other Liberal Democrat member or supporter in your area, involved in any part of the criminal justice system?

You can contact me at [email protected]

This year began with some challenges for the Liberal Democrats. But our
stunning victory over Labour in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, our outstanding by-election performance in the Tory stronghold of Bromley and Chislehurst, and a strong and consistent position in the opinion polls have shown that this is a party heading in the right direction.

But our continued success depends upon having a strong and motivated team working together. That team includes each and every one of you: the party’s members and supporters.

Please do send me your responses to the questions above and help us to ensure that we reach our full potential in 2007.

With every best wish for the year ahead.

Yours sincerely

Sir Menzies Campbell
Leader, Liberal Democrats
www.mingcampbell.org.uk

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23 Comments

  • Not a supporter 27th Dec '06 - 12:18am

    “I believe that we have made a good start.”

    Yep – 15% in the polls is a great start.

  • Not a supporter 27th Dec '06 - 12:21am

    Oh and you could decriminalise drugs like cannabis and bring an end to mandatory life sentences for murder. Oh, and how about giving prisoners the vote?

    Those are Lib Dem policies aren’t they? Or are they being ditched following Ming’s New Year Message on crime…?

  • meiriongwril 27th Dec '06 - 12:44am

    Isn’t a bit pathetic not being a supporter of a movement, yet still to linger around the website to send juvenile messages?
    Get a Life, chum

  • Mark Pack Wins Elections More Often Than Labour Wish He Did 27th Dec '06 - 2:06pm

    If “Not a supporter” wants to debate this issue, then perhaps he will explain how giving votes to prisoners and ending mandatory life for murder would increase crime?

    In the case of the former, I am not sure many villains are deterred from criminal activity by the threat of being deprived the ballot, so how does it impact on crime rates?

    In the case of the latter, making murder charges more flexible, so manslaughter didn’t get used so often when current murder charges are inappropriate, is just common sense transparency. There’s no suggestion it would lead to the most dangerous offenders being released any earlier than they are now.

    I think our New Tory Labour chum has helped show exactly why Lib Dems can cut crime, and his party (whichever of the identikit two it is) can just throw around its rattle and mislead the public.

  • Mark Pack Doesn't Always Win Elections 27th Dec '06 - 3:32pm

    Ming’s listening? Has he got a new hearing aid? Let’s be tough on criminals -tough sentences on those who sell goldfish at fairgrounds!

  • Steve Richard’s had a very good analysis of the Lib Dems current position in today’s Independent.

    The Big Question: Have the Liberal Democrats missed their historic opportunity?
    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2105960.ece

  • The Guardian’s take on Ming’s New Year message

    Lib Dems must sharpen message on crime, says Campbell
    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/libdems/story/0,,1978832,00.html

    The BBC’s take:
    Lib Dems pledge to reduce crime
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6211861.stm

  • Hello Rob,

    So what do you think I should change my name to?

    Cheeky Passport?

    Mark Oaten’s toilet cleaner?

    Mantalk?

    Highlands’s whiskey?

    I’d be a suicide bomber if I lived in Palestine?

    Michael Brown?

    Be a councillor to employ a cleaner?

    Ban competitive sports?

    I shoot dogs?

    Advice, please.

  • From MPDAWEs.

  • So much for liberalism !

  • Cameron - the wrong choice 27th Dec '06 - 11:58pm

    How about “Tory Nutter”?

  • Angus J Huck 28th Dec '06 - 12:44am

    Gosh! Our Tory friend is old enough to remember Norman Scott’s dog. And here was I thinking he was suffering a bad attack of nappy rash!

  • It's a two-horse race - the Lib Dems can't win here! 29th Dec '06 - 3:12pm

    Friday, December 29, 2006
    Three More LibDem Candidates Join Conservatives

    It’s not a good day for the LibDems. They are at their lowest poll ratings in months – 14% with Communicate Research today – and it’s just been announved that three Liberal Democrats who stood in the 2005 General Election as parliamentary candidates have today joined the Conservative Party. This makes a total of six former Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidates to join the Conservatives in the last 12 months.

    Richard Porter stood in Camberwell and Peckham in 2005 and wrote the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the 2005 general election. Richard said: “Ming Campbell is a ‘has-been’ and since he has been in control of the party, they have been stuck firmly in reverse gear. After the election, I took time out to reflect on my own personal beliefs and values. Previously I thought that these values were best represented by the Liberal Democrats but I now believe that the principles of freedom from state interference, personal freedom, the environment and civil liberties are all areas where the Conservative Party leads the way.

    John Barstow, a shop steward for USDAW and Liberal Democrat PPC in Tonbridge and Malling in 2005 said: “I have joined the Conservative Party because I sincerely believe David Cameron is the right person to be Prime Minister. And that I am a natural Conservative in the great One Nation tradition, proudly conserving what is best and well tried and taking decisive action to eradicate black spots of despair and unemployment within the United Kingdom. The Liberal Democrats are bland, formulaic and out of touch with real life.”

    Dr Tariq Mahmood, a physician, consultant gastroenterologist and honorary senior lecturer at the University of London, stood in Uxbridge as the Liberal Democrat candidate in 2005. He also works as a TV presenter on the ARY Digital channel. Tariq said: “Under the leadership of David Cameron I have seen that the Party is moving forward. There is now a real possibility for the Conservative Party.

    During the course of 2006 three former Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidates have joined the Conservatives. Today’s recruits make six in all, joining Adrian Childs, former Liberal Democrat candidate for West Suffolk, Jeff Clarke, former Liberal Democrat candidate for West Wirral, and Rene Kinsett, former Liberal Democrat candidate for Swansea West.

  • It's a two-horse race - the Lib Dems can't win here! 29th Dec '06 - 3:37pm

    “I’m not going to comment on their “quotes” as they’re blatantly written by a Tory press officer”, says Rob. Well, the Lib Dems never did that with Aitken, Cranfield-Adams, Dykes, Emmerson, Thurnham et al, did they?

  • It's a two-horse race - the Lib Dems can't win here! 29th Dec '06 - 4:14pm

    Fair enough.

  • Paul Griffiths 29th Dec '06 - 4:46pm

    In future, can we agree to just ignore the trolls, rather than give them the oxygen of publicity?

  • Facts please 30th Dec '06 - 9:24am

    Adrian Childs has never been a Liberal Democrat candidate: did you mean Adrian Graves?

  • It's a two-horse race - the Lib Dems can't win here! 30th Dec '06 - 11:56am

    Switch to Win, Win for Britain!

  • Tony Greaves 31st Dec '06 - 1:38am

    What nasty people come here and claim to be Tories! But if they cannot even use their ordinary names I for one wil reagrad them as being the smelly flotsam that they obviously are!

    Tony Greaves

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