David Cameron fights back on crime after a grim week

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'Tough' but 'intelligent' - that's how David Cameron wants us to see his new policies on crime and punishment.

In a speech later today, he'll outline plans for a tougher regime for prisoners, coupled with an expansion of rehabilitation to include all inmates.

Wormwood Scrubs Prison
Wormwood Scrubs Prison Credit: Press Association

He hopes to change the terms of the political debate on this issue and, perhaps, the terms of the debate on his Government too.

After a disastrous week, when good news on the economy was buried under the row over his Chief Whip's rant at police, few in the Tory Party doubt it's time for a fresh start.

Lord Norman Tebbit, the former chairman of the Conservative Party
Lord Norman Tebbit, the former chairman of the Conservative Party Credit: Press Association

The intervention of Lord Tebbit yesterday wasn't helpful, suggesting as he did, that the Government was perceived to be made up of an incompetent bunch of unfeeling toffs.

But the real issue remains David Cameron's own judgement. Why did he allow Andrew Mitchell to stay in post, when his antagonistic behaviour towards the police was proving so damaging to the Government's image? To many backbenchers, it smacked of weakness.

David Cameron delivers his major speech on crime on Monday
David Cameron delivers his major speech on crime on Monday Credit: Press Association

Then there was the debacle over energy policy - again many believe it was Mr Cameron's comments that gave the impression policy was being made up on the hoof.

Tough and intelligent may be the words, he uses in relation to criminal justice party.

His aides must be hoping that his party rallies behind their leader, thinking of him in the same light.