Brown nailed down his agenda with commendable precision

THE NEW Prime Minister s apparent lack of interest in European and foreign affairs brought him some strident criticism at his first party conference as Labour leader – one red-top tabloid berated him on its front page for devoting just 12 seconds to the E

THE NEW Prime Minister's apparent lack of interest in European and foreign affairs brought him some strident criticism at his first party conference as Labour leader - one red-top tabloid berated him on its front page for devoting just 12 seconds to the EU treaty.

But referendums and elections aside, there can be no doubt that when it came to identifying the issues that are really troubling ordinary people, Gordon Brown set out his agenda with nailed-down clarity and precision.

NHS professionals and patients alike will be encouraged by what he had to say, particularly about early disease detection measures and giving more responsibility to hospital matrons, who will have the powers they need to ensure that their wards are returned to the spick and span standards once taken for granted. There was clear direction and leadership on environmental issues and worthy aspirations - backed by a fair degree of commitment - on education.

But it was in that section of his speech which dealt with crime and punishment, and the scourge of intimidating anti-social behaviour, that Mr Brown's ambitions most clearly chimed with the valid concerns of ordinary people.


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The Prime Minister has pledged to reinvigorate the fight against everything from under age drinking to the rising tide of gun and knife crime.

He seems to be in tune with Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, whose recently-published review of policing made sensible recommendations on reducing bureaucracy, improving public participation in community policing, and managing resources. One idea, to issue bobbies on the beat with pocket computers so that they can log crimes on the spot without returning to their stations to fill out forms, is an interesting response to one of the main criticisms made by police officers themselves - that they spend to much time doing paperwork and too little on the streets.

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All of this, of course, could be pre-election propaganda but Gordon Brown should be given the benefit of the doubt: he recognises that at times it seems that the criminals have the upper hand and he is determined to do something about it, by improving detection rates, punishing the guilty and turning the tide in favour of the law-abiding public.

We all want a safer society. People like James and Lorraine Dinnegan, whose 14-year-old son Martin lost his life in a stabbing incident, will be among the first to welcome Mr Brown's promises - and to take him to task should he ever appear to be abandoning his pledges.

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