Way back in the olden days of the last Tory government there was a constant, consistent and absolutely correct criticism made by Tony Blair and the Labour Party. Crime statistics being used by the Government were out of step with available data from Police records. The Government of the day used the British Crime Survey which dealt with attitudes and perceptions towards crime as well as extrapolation of figures of total crime from sample sets.
At the same time, Blair and the Labour Party said that the BCS under-estimated the crime figures when it was held up in comparison to the actual recorded crime figures held by the Police. That criticism remains as correct today as it was then. The only difference is that Labour in power have decided the opposite. The British Crime Survey contains good news at a time when teenagers are killing each other on an almost daily basis.
So, as the Times lead story reports today, the Government intend to announce, using the BCS, that we've never had it so good when it comes to crime actually. They have succeeded where the Tories failed will be the line. I can hear the voice of Jacqui Smith or some other minister already. 'Yes, we have a problems in certain areas, but actually, overall crime is dramatically down and that's because of the long term tough measures we have put in place. Measure which the Opposition have failed to back'.
Of course, no one will believe the statistics, and when I say no one I mean ordinary people many of whom don't see the point in voting anymore anyway. Just like with the NHS, no amount of tubthumping from the Government will detract from what people's personal experience is. Try and tell a law-abiding family living on one of the worst estates in the country that crime is actually down and they will laugh at the absurdity. This is the problem Brown and his Government now face.
Trust in politicians being at an all time low feeds into this of course, but the Government has lost its way because it has to rely on speaking in statistics that are contradicted by the electorates real world experience. This is especially the case on crime. It is also not helped by the Government's response to the issue of knife crime. By reacting with fanfare and a 'something must be done' attitude they simultaneously undermine their own claims about crime.
In fact, underneath this we can actually see a defining theme for the Brown Administration. It is moving along, but unlike a car which can turn whenever its driver chooses, it is more like a train where the track becomes the news agenda and it has no control over. When a junction comes up it can only go the way the junction is set. The Brown Administration has become reactive rather than the proactive administration of Blair.
This is also where it shares much in common and parallel with the fate of the Major Administration. As the country repulsed at the Jamie Bulger murder and the Dunblane killings, the Government was in reactive mode and was holding up the BCS to say that things were not as bad as all that whilst simulatenously trying to be tough with rushed out legislation. Thoughout this Blair capitalised and expressed what everyone was really thinking.
The country is now leading Brown rather than Brown leading the country, and shouting out about achievements are increasingly falling on deaf ears, especially on the issue of crime. Cameron on the other hand is tapping into what people are genuinely thinking and actually doing the "leadership" thing that Brown is not.