The latest expenses scandal really must be the death throes of this government. Remember the broken promises "Whiter than White" "Things can only get Better". If you believed it, don't you now feel a tad mugged off?
Colours to the mast, as one of Maggie's babies I was never going to be a lover of NuLabor but you've got to hand it to them, they have set their agenda and definitely changed this country. For better or worse? you can make your own mind up on that one.
I remember attending the Police Federation open meeting at Wembley Arena when the Tory Sheehy proposals were discussed in 1993. It was my first sighting of the Rt Hon Anthony Blair who was shadow home affairs minister at the time. I was in the overflow hall and watched him on a big screen. He basically spouted alot of oratory which was well received in the main hall. The general consensus in the overflow was that he was a smarmy git and just playing to the audience of the day. Funny how things turned out and he ended up as Prime Minister. Sheehy sort of half came in and we were shafted, and the inevitable happened, that with the loss of allowances some new constables found themselves on income support. Maybe we needed shafting, millions of pounds were saved by freezing the housing allowances and abolishing it for new recruits. It would have been worth about 800+ pounds today per month based on 2009 rental values.
Are we supposed to be grateful for all the extra money that has indeed gone into policing? Well first off Nulabor did introduce some new allowances, but this was through necessity as people were pitching up on their first day at training school and resigning the same day. The Macpherson report also followed and bought with it bureaucracy gone mad and morale battering recommendations. The reality is, that as resources were taken away from response policing to cover the squads there is actually less uniform on the streets to meet demand. It's a fact, at my station there are less bodies paraded than in 1997.
There has been a brave attempt to reintroduce Neighbourhood Policing. People forums showed increased public satisfaction where community police team's were deployed. The cost has been astronomical and must be weighed against the outcomes. Has crime decreased that much? It's a difficult one as it can make a difference locally, however one size doesn't fit all. Quieter areas get the same size team as a busy one. With a PCSO costing about 30k a time most managers would sacrifice one to use that money operationally elsewhere.
Things tend to go in cycles. A change in government is inevitable and police reform will be coming too. Just as NuLabor can't help but spend, with little to show for it, then the Tories can't help but cut, but not until after 2012.
Remember what Blair said in 1993, 'The case for reform is whether it helps to cut crime, whether it makes our communities safer, not whether it allows the Treasury to cut corners or satisfies some mistaken political dogma.'
Shame he never stuck to that !