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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back to basics

I have to admit that I am in two minds how to react to this latest initiative by Tory Shadow Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. The Observer has taken the line that he is diametrically opposed to David Cameron's 'hug a hoodie' rhetoric, illustrating once more how a party hooked on quick headlines and image rather than substance can lose its way so easily.

However, I am more attracted by the comparison with John Major's 'Back to Basics' campaign that effectively declared open season on the private lives of Tory MPs and Ministers. Mr. Grieve is quoted as saying:

'You can argue that our Victorian forebears succeeded in achieving something very unusual between the 1850s and 1900 in changing public attitudes by - dare one use the word - instilling moral codes. I don't want to suggest this was an ideal society, but it was one where a sense of moral values and of the responsibility people owed to each other did seem to be pervasive. There was a much greater sense of shame in respect of transgressions.'

Is he now inviting the media to establish whether Tory MPs and candidates are living up to the strict standards he is setting for them?
I don't think so. He's suggesting an alternative to the way things are, and I tend to agree with him.

I wrote about the usefulness of shame a while ago on Cif.

See here if you wish
As with John Major's 'Back to Basics' campaign it is perception that counts not what was said. If a Tory says that we should go back to Victorian values there may well be some who will take him at his word and actively see if his fellow MPs are living up to the standard he has set. It all depends on how bloody minded the media want to be.
Well, I agree with him about shame. But I've just read this and think it's pretty irresponsible.

Dominic Grieve: "They take the view that if the matter gets out of control, there's a danger that if they lay hands on the young person they might be liable to prosecution for assault, even if their response is proportionate."

And so, the vilification of young people continues. Young men (aged 18-24) are already by far the most likely people in society to suffer physical attack - almost a 1 in 4 chance according to the most recent stats. Encouraging people to resort to violence in this way is, I think, reprehensible.
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