Tough on the causes of crime
As far as crime is concerned the Conservatives walk on water. Throughout the ages the Tories have been viewed as the party of authority. This has not changed under the leadership of David Cameron despite his focus on the ‘causes of crime’ rather than being ‘tough on crime’.
If we look back at the 2005 Conservative manifesto the primary focus was on being ‘tough’ and the secondary focus was on the ‘causes’. For example:
“Crime can be cut. Anti-social behaviour can be confronted. Communities can and should be made safe for the law-abiding. It requires active community policing and a relentless focus on catching, convicting and punishing criminals.”
This is broadly representative of the party’s message on crime in 2005. The primary focus on being ‘tough’ is apparent. This of course did no harm to the party’s lead on the issue. YouGov put the Conservatives on 38% and Labour on 27%.
That said there was reference in the manifesto to some ’causes’. There was a policy on extra re-hab clinics and a sentence on supporting “social institutions – families, schools, voluntary bodies and youth clubs.” However, these were very much of secondary importance.
This imbalance was problematic. Although the party’s rating on crime was high, the overwhelming focus on being ‘tough’ undermined the party’s broader credibility. For instance, although the manifesto did mention the need to support ‘social institutions’, the party’s ratings on social issues were low. On ‘education and schools’ YouGov put the Conservatives on 25% and Labour on 32%, and on ‘family and childcare’ they put the Conservatives on 14% and Labour on 23%.
David Cameron has transformed this by switching focus away from police numbers and away from tougher sentences, to crime’s ’causes’ such as poor education, family breakdown, unemployment and so on. The result has been impressive.
On crime the conservatives have lost hardly any support at 37%. Meanwhile on education the party is up from 26% to 45%. On family and childcare, the party is up from 14% to 20%. And on employment the party is up from 19% to 25%.