Just back from taking my wife Karen to New York for a few days as a belated Valentine’s present - our first child-free holiday together for five years (thank you Mum!).
I was last in New York in the summer of 1994, shortly after Mayor Giuliani’s election as Mayor, and the transformation since then is incredible. At that time, you were advised to steer clear of large parts of Manhatten and the whole city had a rundown, edgy feel to it. Today it looks cleaner and feels much safer than London (where the Home Secretary says she feels unsafe walking the streets at night: see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3216678.ece).
There’s a lesson here. Lots of people today have given up on politics. They don’t believe any politician can do anything about the crime and anti-social behaviour that blights our community. New York proves they’re wrong. If we cut police paperwork, if we stop abusing the fact that police officers can’t strike and honour the negotiated pay deal, if we insist in return that they adopt the zero-tolerance approach to policing that transformed in New York, if we build extra prison places so that we don’t have to release criminals early because there isn’t anywhere to keep them and if we give teachers more powers to discipline pupils in our schools, we can turn things round.