Penal reform and much else: Be careful what you wish for, Ed.

Yesterday’s post here was prescient.  The Observer front page lead today is ‘We’re losing our claim to be tough on crime – top Tories’ (which translates online to Conservatives risking reputation on law and order, say ministers).

Already my fears that change is in the air are coming true, in a way which calls for very careful thought.

The Labour attack on Ken Clarke for his prolonged crass insensitivity and ghastly mis-speaking (i.e. grimly inappropriate terminology) on the subject of rape is absolutely fair.  But calling instantly, as Ed Miliband did, for Clarke’s sacking is yet more evidence that the Labour top brass has but a feeble grip on either leadership or reality.

Who would Ed Miliband like, to replace Ken Clarke?  I will spare readers the list of likely alternatives.  It’s not a collection of names which many on the Left would regard as better than the person Miliband wants dismissed.

Harriet Harman is tomorrow due to expand on the impact of spending cuts and how they will damage effective penal policy on rape.  That’s a proper political critique of the Tories’ position on an extremely serious and terrifying crime.

But seemingly ill-considered calls for sackings won’t impress most of us. 

We may loathe the present government and what they are doing, but there is a compelling need for careful judgement in how best to seek to stop them.  

As I tried to explain yesterday, playing into the hands of the Tories’ Neanderthal hinterland is in the end going to hurt Labour and the (wo)man on the street more than it hurts the Conservatives.

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