Friday, 27 June 2008

Love in the fight against crime

If Danny Kruger is an intellectual driving force behind Cameronism, things could get quite interesting. As the author of Cameron's notorious 'hug-a-hoodie' speech, Kruger has put his money where his mouth is and now works with his wife in a charity that rehabilitates offenders using the performing arts to engage them. The charity is called Only Connect and its work sounds inspiring and successful.

In an article in this week's Spectator, Kruger stands by his 'a little love' argument and actually develops it further. Perhaps 'love' was the wrong way to describe it and trivialised the broader point that we shouldn't pursue only punitive measures against young people who are finding themselves in educational, personal, or legal difficulty. Perhaps if he had called for 'more personal care and attention' it might have got a fairer hearing. His expansion of the argument in The Spectator gives us a better insight into where he is coming from.

He criticises, rightly, the middle class who are happy to provide the market for drugs locking the less fortunate in this illicit and illegal trade. He argues that we should not condemn a whole generation of the disenfranchised young to large scale state institutions, whether they be prisons or impersonal inner city comprehensives. Overall, he argues that we somehow have to wean the powerless off the welfare and drug dependency that imprisons them. We do not do this by punishing them (which they are almost happy to see as a legitimisation of their active failure) but by engaging them.

It's an interesting and powerful argument. It is also an idea that could create a new climate in British politics on both the right and the left of the political spectrum. We can not simply allow whole groups of young people to remain on the outside of society. For our sake sure. More importantly, for their sakes as well.

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