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The Labour Party in Brighton: Blair seeks long jail terms for violence

TONY BLAIR, the shadow Home Secretary, yesterday staked Labour's claim to be the party of law and order, backing stiff sentences for violent criminals and denouncing Tory 'market forces' solutions to crime.

Mr Blair endorsed long jail terms for thugs, racists and rapists, but warned that crime could never be defeated in a culture where people had no hope in society.

Conference later called for the scrapping of the white paper on police authorities and the Sheehy report on police pay and conditions.

Mr Blair said crime had doubled over 14 years of Tory government. 'Fourteen years of the Tory lie that they are the party of law and order. Let us tell them: those days are over. There is no 'market forces' solution to crime. You cannot privatise your way to a safer Britain. The only solution lies in strong communities prepared to act to protect their citizens.'

Condemning the most violent offenders, Mr Blair said: 'The hooligans who call themselves football supporters and inflict terror and violence; the muggers who beat up pensioners in their own homes; the perverted men who rape and molest women; the racist thugs who think a weekend sport is to beat up a defenceless black or Asian kid.

'The place for these people is out of society until they learn to behave like human beings within our society.' Racially motivated violence should be made a specific offence, carrying severe punishment, he said.

While no one but a fool could excuse crime on the basis of social conditions, 'no one but a Tory could deny the impact of the conditions in which people live on the character which they develop'.

Mr Blair added: 'When we allow a culture to grow outside society's mainstream alienated from society's rules, a culture of people with no hope in that society and no stake in its future, a culture of broken homes, truancy, poor education, drugs, no jobs or dead-end jobs . . . we should not be surprised at the harvest we reap.'