Brown reaches out to Middle England with new crime crackdown

Author: By Andrew Grice, Political Editor

In his speech to the Labour conference in Brighton, the Prime Minister will
attempt to answer criticism that he is out of touch with ordinary people by
saying that he understands their concerns about issues such as crime,
antisocial behaviour and immigration.

It is also believed he will bow to pressure and agree to televised debates
with the leaders of the two main opposition parties.

In a late switch to a Blairite agenda, he will announce that Britain’s 50,000
estimated problem families will be forced to take up intensive one-to-one
help. Some of them will be moved off their estates and placed in supported
accommodation. The parent of any child found guilty of antisocial behaviour
will be automatically subject to a parenting order. If they refuse to take
up special help, they will lose their state benefits.

Courts will have to consider imposing a ban on going to pubs and clubs on
everyone found guilty of a crime committed while under the influence of
alcohol. The so-called “drink Asbos” , which have been trialled in
some areas, will be rolled out nationwide from next April. Anyone breaching
the drink banning orders will face a fine of up to £2,500.

Mr Brown will tell the conference: “Whenever and wherever there is
antisocial behaviour, we will be there to fight it. We will not stand by and
see the lives of the lawful majority disrupted by the behaviour of the
lawless minority. Because the decent, hard-working majority are getting ever
more angry, rightly so, with the minority who will talk about their rights
but never accept their responsibilities.”

Mr Brown has not focused on crime as much as Tony Blair and opposed some of
his measures to combat it ? although he did write his predecessor’s slogan “tough
on crime and tough on the causes of crime”.

Mr Brown may use his speech to announce that he will agree to three televised
debates between party leaders at the general election ? a first for Britain.
But further questions about his leadership surfaced yesterday. Alan Simpson,
a left-wing Labour MP, said he was a “dead man walking” and
suggested he had until Christmas to convince the party to allow him to stay
in post for the election.

The main measure to tackle antisocial behaviour will be a big expansion of “family
intervention projects”. The number of families covered will be doubled
to 10,000 next year at a cost of £26m. By 2015, all 50,000 problem families
will be included.

Although it costs between £8,000 and £20,000 a year to support a family on the
programme, a problem family with three or four children can cost the state
between £250,000 and £350,000 because of the burden on police, the justice
system, local councils and children’s services.

The Prime Minister will also say today that agreement on a new global treaty
to combat climate change at the Copenhagen summit in December will provide a
short-term economic boost as well as long-term environmental benefits. In
Britain, he will predict that 250,000 “green jobs” will be created
in the next five years ? a faster rate of growth than previously expected
after investment in renewable energy. He will announce that “low carbon
economic areas” in which universities and industry collaborate will be
created in four areas by the end of the year. They have already been set up
in the South-west and North-east.

Other ministers will also announce measures today to toughen the Government’s
approach to crime. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, will promise that
violent partners will be banned from returning to their homes for up to a
fortnight. At present, violent men often return home after arrest, forcing
their partner to move out. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, will pledge to
set up a “national victims service” to provide personalised
support for victims.

How the PM can turn it around Seven experts give their view

Lance Price, Former Labour Director of Communications

Brown needs to tear up the rule book for conference speeches. He should say: “If
I was popular today I wouldn’t have been doing my job properly.” Make a
virtue out of it. Call Cameron a likeable lightweight and say: “You may
not like me, I can’t help that. Strength versus smarm. It’s your choice.”

Andrew Hawkins, chief executive of pollsters ComRes

This must be the speech of his life: He needs to broaden out the “no time
for a novice” theme by claiming all the credit for the tentative
economic recovery while blaming the Conservatives for hampering it. He can
only “win” (ie avert a Tory landslide) by producing a level of
fear in the minds of voters not seen since 1992.

Judi James, body language specialist

I don’t want to see him take his jacket off, give any of those stuck-on smiles
or try to do the things Tony Blair did. He should just wear a good suit and
get going. I would also tell him not to have Sarah up on stage with him as
it can look like he is trying to hide behind her.

Robert Bean, branding guru

First, he must show his human side. Admit where he got it wrong but insist his
motives were well-meaning and “caring” for the less privileged.
Second, attack the inexperience of a Cameron and Osborne pairing. The
country can’t trust “trainees” ? especially with the finances.

Neil Sherlock, former speechwriter to Paddy Ashdown

A leader’s speech at a party conference needs to appeal to both the delegates
in the hall and speak to the country. This is a critical moment for the
Prime Minister to silence his doubters in the Labour party and give the
public a strong message about why he should stay in No 10. He should
acknowledge his responsibility for some of the economic woes but present
himself as a less partisan fixer of the problems. But he shouldn’t attack
Cameron or Clegg, Osborne or Cable, or indeed mention them. At the moment,
it is all too remote. He has to play to helping people stay in work, get
work, pay their mortgages and improve the chances for their children. This
will help people to see him as a man with a plan to restore Britain’s
economic health.

Lynne Franks, PR consultant

People do not believe he is listening and he needs to regain their trust. He
should announce a major campaign of listening to the public before the
election. He also needs to take off the mask of the politician and show how
his values reflect his policies. Cameron is good at that and Gordon could do
worse than watch one of his interviews.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University

Voters regard him as dithering and dull; he has to lay out the direction he
wants to take his government.

Read our experts’ verdicts on Brown’s speech in tomorrow’s Independent.

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