Having had a discussion in the politics lesson this morning about the ideological imperatives behind Brown and Smith's knife crime policy, it was interesting to pick this up on the Fawkes site this afternoon. After a morning in which there had been animated discussion about the proposal to send perpetrators to visit their victims - a real triumph of liberal hope over pessimistic reality - it has been announced this afternoon that the idea is being dropped. If the prime minister can't even co-ordinate a consistent policy on knife crime, then he really is in trouble.
The 'Today' programme this morning commented, on this item, that the government were keen to be seen to be 'doing something', and herein lies one of the problems of modern, media-managed government. So keen are governments to be seen to be 'doing something' - and this is not necessarily unique to the present one - they are spending too little time actually working out the substance of what they are doing. Thus, what might have seemed a good idea in a quick round-table discussion about how to show they're serious about tackling knife crime, becomes, without further thought or consideration, a policy albatross when it is exposed to genuine debate. We may wonder at Gordon Brown's continuing gaffe prone approach, but we should take no joy from the fact that policy is being managed in such a shoddy fashion.
As for knife crime, it isn't rocket science. Start pouring police resources into the worst affected areas - in terms of actual, people on the ground patrols - and hit knife possession with tough sanctions. Forget trying to appeal to the better side of a knife-owner's nature and start trying to deter and punish!
A useful corrective to the debate, incidentally, concerning the actual numbers we are talking about with regards to knife crime, is here.