The Sketch: Labour lures the little Tories with siren song

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The Independent Online

There was a game I used to play with the children when they were young. They'd cower at the top of the stairs while I took on the role of the neighbourhood child molester. "Come here little boy," I'd coo up at them and they'd be tempted down the stairs step by step. "Come here, because I love you little boys and your lovely little toes-ies!" Then when they were just out of reach, the tone would change and I'd fling myself at their dangling feet roaring with predatory, voracious laughter.

I thought it wasn't legal to play "Come Here Little Boy" any more, what with England as it is but it's exactly the game Gordon Brown is playing with the Tories. Except if he does catch them they'll be molested like billy-oh.

Hatty Harman, that fragrant creature of privilege, called across to them in her winding-up speech. "Come here little Tories! With your lovely little voties!" It hardly needs me to caution them; when Tories hear Hatty's first words the rest of the message is drowned out by the sound of spontaneous nausea.

She referred to Tony Blair, by the way. Once. She described him as "one of" Neil Kinnock's "apprentices". That was the full extent of his contribution. Blair must react to this somehow. I hope he never gets an independent nuclear weapon or there'll be some very penitent crocodiles in the Labour Party.

Previously, Jack Straw had delivered his Justice speech. He is doing his part in the "Come Here Little Tory" strategy with a daring repudiation of "tough on the causes of crime". He said: "There's only one person responsible for criminal behaviour, and that's them!" Yes, little Tories. Don't be afraid, we love you!

In another departure from Labour's core values, Mr Straw said that people should be prepared to intervene in robberies and burglaries and that such intervention had to be "a matter of individual discretion".

That is so far from modern administrative practice as to be either a rhetorical fantasy or a call to revolution. "Justice must stand up for those who do the right thing as good citizens!" he declared to Tories all over Britain. The hall gave this declaration a round of very uncertain applause.

Individual discretion? They didn't know what it meant but they knew they didn't like the sound of it. Surely he should have said, "call a public servant who would tackle the situation according to best practice benchmarked by successfully rolled-out pilot schemes"? But of course, he wasn't talking to them at all. "Come here, lovely little Tories! Come on!"

He had to pull out all stops to redeem his position, and did so by telling them that the modern Conservative leadership were wanting to repeal people's right to life.

That is: "Come to us, lovely Tories. We'll only molest you, not kill you."