Two adjacent editorials in today's torygraph show just how rotten things have become under Nu Labour. The first one discusses crime - concentrating on the death of John Monckton in Chelsea (also commented on at Samizdata by his neighbour Perry de Haviland) and on the attack on a 71 year old priest. The writer could have chosen Ozzy Osbourne or hundreds of others while making his point which is that:
Nevertheless, there is a deeply disturbing trend towards the increasing use of lethal violence in crimes against property.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that we have become too tolerant of crime against property. Increasingly, police regard burglary and car theft as an economic nuisance, offences for which they will offer only a docket number for an insurance claim, plus the dubious benefits of counselling. They are reluctant to answer a ringing burglar alarm or investigate a broken window.
Prevention of burglary has, in effect, been privatised and responsibility for deterrence has been passed to the manufacturers of burglar alarm systems, paid for by householders who realise how vulnerable they have become in the absence of a visible police presence in so many parts of the country.
The distinction between property crime, which increasingly is tolerated, and violent crime, which in theory is not, is a false one. High general levels of crime lead inevitably to rising levels of violent crime. If a burglar feels he can invade a person's home with virtual impunity, it is then a small step for him to use violence against the householder should he be disturbed or challenged.
Burglary in Britain is an extremely low risk activity. The chances of getting caught are low, the chances of prosecution are lower and the chance of facing an angry armed householder lower still. If, by some lucky chance, the householder does in fact injure the burglar, the burglar will probably be able to sue for compensation from the householder. Meanwhile as the editorial states, the Home office pushes for gimmicks and crackdowns which cause aggravation to the lawabiding while failing to stop crime in against people or property. Exactly how does mandatory possession of an ID card deter a burglar? All it does is add additional hassle to every one and a new crime - failing to keep the ID card current, fine £1000 or go to jail.
Then there is the state of the state. The second editorial, and the related opinion piece from Oliver Letwin, talks about the astounding growth in bureaucracy and bureaucrats under Labour. As the editorial starts:
Spare a thought today for the paper boys and girls. Wednesday is the worst day of their week, because they have to struggle up the nation's garden paths, bent double under the weight of the Guardian's public sector job supplement. They know that there is such a thing as Society - it is usually more than 100 pages long.
Oliver Letwin does a simple trawl through the Grauniad's job pages for the last five months to unearth the fact that, since the Chancellor said he would reduce the civil service, more than 4,000 jobs have been advertised for a total wage bill of £157,865,784 (i.e. average salary £35-40,000). Worse, as Tim Worstall illustrated recently, these jobs are neither productive nor efficient. Under Labour the UK has indeed moved to the heart of Europe with the same bureaucratic brainlessness and resulting toxic tax burden. Unfortunately the heart seems to be ripe for heart attack unless there is a major operation to remove the fat clogging the system. Just as Britain (and Europe's) population are becoming ever more obese so is its government. We need an Atkins diet for government concentrating on useful things like crime prevention by catching criminals rather than blowing our taxes on "teenage pregnancy coordinators" or transportation websites or conker awareness campaigns.