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POLITICS EXPLAINED

Yvette Cooper helps Labour steal Tory territory on crime

By exploiting weakness in a traditional Conservative strongpoint, Labour is seeking to persuade sceptical voters it can provide law and order, says Sean O’Grady

Wednesday 11 October 2023 18:44 BST
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Yvette Cooper channels Tony Blair at the Labour conference in Liverpool
Yvette Cooper channels Tony Blair at the Labour conference in Liverpool (Getty)

It’s one thing for Labour to campaign on the NHS, an issue where they invariably enjoy a polling lead, and, with incessant strikes and more than 7 million on waiting lists, it’s another winner for them going into an election year. Keir Starmer also declared, explicitly, that his party would “fight the next election on economic growth”, again an issue that’s often favoured Labour when a Tory government loses its reputation for competence. Now, though, the party is also majoring in law and order – deep into traditional Tory territory. Levels of knife crime, shoplifting and hate crime are beginning to drive political choices. The polling suggests that Labour has edged ahead of the Tories, but is that simply due to a public impression of rising crime, or does Labour have a genuinely attractive “offer”? In rounding off the conference, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper sought to prove that they do.

What’s Yvette Cooper’s big idea?

Not necessarily the biggest, but the most eye-catching is her youth programme: “A new 10-year programme bringing together services and communities to support young people. New youth hubs, with both mental health workers and youth workers, to tackle the crisis in youth mental health, to give teenagers the best start in life, to stop the knife crime that is killing our children. Imagine it – communities coming together with that same awesome capacity to transform lives. A youth programme focused on tackling knife crime and a mental health crisis among young people. We need urgent interventions to stop young people getting drawn into crime or exploitation”.

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