Since Labour came to power, the level of violent crime in Britain has risen dramatically, by 70 per cent. Gun crime is up by more than half and there are more than 100 serious knife crimes each day. Under Labour, fatal stabbings reached the highest level on record.
The culture of violence that was a feature of US cities a generation ago is now a feature of British cities.
The same is true of the culture of deprivation, harm, addiction and failure that is a feature of the worst US urban areas. That world too is also following the culture of gangs and violence across the Atlantic. It's the world of the drama series The Wire. A series that tracks the nightmare of drugs, gangs and organised crime in inner city West Baltimore. It's a horrendous portrayal of the collapse of civilised life and of human despair. Neighbourhoods where drug dealing and deprivation is rife. A constant threat of robbery to fund drug dependency. Communities dogged by violence and by violent crime. The Wire used to be just a work of fiction for British viewers. But under this government, in many parts of British cities, The Wire has become a part of real life. Far too many of those features of what we have always seen as a US phenomenon are now to be found on the streets of Britain as well.
Two weeks ago my colleague George Osborne said that only the Conservatives now have the progressive ideas that can start to get to grips with the very real failings in our society. His comments provoked a cry of outrage from the Labour Party. Nothing seems to antagonise the politicians of the left more than Conservatives talking about progressive politics and Broken Britain.
Just witness how furiously Lord Mandelson reacted to the suggestion that the Conservatives are offering the right, progressive solutions to Britain's social problems. But he, and they, seem unable to grasp the fact that the left do not have the answers. That their ideas just haven't worked. Even now, after 12 years in government where they have systematically failed to make the difference, they believe they have a monopoly of ideas about how to deal with social breakdown. They don't.
When The Wire comes to Britain's streets, it is the poor who suffer most.
Taken from a speech by the Shadow Home Secretary in Westminster yesterday