Week beginning Monday, 11th December 2000
Law and Order (Government Queen's Speech Proposals)
Labour is vulnerable on Law and Order - and the Government knows it. Serious crime is up in Scotland - for example murders at 120 are up 20% on the figure of 98 for last year. Jim Wallace says this is 'unacceptable' - I have no hesitation in agreeing with him that this situation is indeed very bad and largely of the present government's own making.
Instead of genuinely tackling the problem of crime, by getting more Police onto the street, to reverse the decline in Police numbers of the past three years, more gimmicks and bureaucracy are being placed on the reduced Police numbers. The proposal to extend night-time curfews to teenagers of up to 16 years conveniently ignores the fact that NO existing curfew legislation has ever been enforced.
Coupled with this come a number of illiberal bills, for example to ban hunting with dogs, or legislation to reduce the right to trial by jury in England and Wales, which confirm our worst fears about the authoritarian instincts of 'New' Labour. Not forgetting the disarray apparent in our defence policy - the Government's direct pledge that NATO will remain the mainstay of our capability has been directly contradicted by President Chirac of France, who wishes the European Defence Force EUROMIL to be independent of the NATO command-structure, whilst US Secretary of Defence William Cohen has issued stark warnings about the dangers of this policy.
Labour has unfortunately used the Queen to read a pre-election manifesto, but what they asked Her to read shows them to be woefully ill-prepared, and bereft of ideas, for another term.
Bush is US President-elect (probably)
Vice-President Al Gore has, at last, accepted that all legal efforts to allow him to continue his struggle to be declared President-elect have been exhausted. His 'concession' speech was superficially generous, but a more than cursory study reveals it to be a mean-spirited bowing to the inevitable. With luck, this character will never again be a presidential candidate. Of course, as a foreigner my views are perhaps unimportant, but the rest of the world DOES have to live with whoever the US voting public (or rather the members of the Electoral College which meets on 18th December) chooses as the leader of the world's only super-power.
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