Leading article: Shameless

Things have a habit of going embarrassingly awry when politicians descend to populism. So Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, should have known better than pursue an easy headline by comparing parts of Britain to the gang and drug infested streets of The Wire.

Far from showing how plugged in he is to popular culture, Mr Grayling's comparison shows his susceptibility to fashion. This brilliant US import is a late-night, minority, taste. Nor does his reference suggest any realistic acquaintance with what his party calls "Broken Britain".

If he thinks even the meanest of our streets resemble the dark side of Baltimore, we suggest that it's high time he went and had a proper look. Regrettably, Mr Grayling has form in his penchant for the small screen over reality. Earlier this year he drew on Shameless to bemoan the supposed prevalence of "Frank Gallagher-style parenting". Shameless? we are tempted to ask, who's talking?