The crime figures in the Balearics are alarming and our President, Francesc Antich, has made an appeal for more police officers. An estimated 110'000 crimes were committed in the Balearics last year, according to an official report, and this does not take into account the considerable number of minor thefts which went unreported. I have watched the debate on crime in Britain closely and if the Mayor of London feels safer in New York then perhaps he should consider moving. I must say that I agree with Liz Hurley, these days you never see a police officer. You don't see them in London, Palma and in New York you might be lucky enough to sit next to one in a diner. I was amazed to hear an interview with one police representative who said that police officers in Britain don't like patrolling. I must admit that it came as no surprise but surely that is the main part of their job? Too many excuses are being made for the police. The public wants to see the police on the streets not in cars, not back at the police station, but on street corners doing their job, in other words looking out for the law abiding public and acting as a deterrent. I don't care if they've got too much paperwork or that they are too stressed out to do their job, as a taxpayer I want to see them on the streets. Do I feel safer in New York than in London or in Palma? Sensibly speaking I don't think you feel safe anywhere you've always got to be on your guard and in other words watching your back. This was once the job of the police but now this service has been privatised and should be renamed people policing. The solution to crime and to feeling safe is a greater police presence on the streets. It's that simple.
The Iraq debate
Yesterday afternoon's surprise announcement by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that the House of Commons will be given the chance of voting on any British military involvement in Iraq suggests that the Labour backbenchers' protest in Tuesday's debate has had its effect. The House of Commons does have it uses, after all! However, Mr Straw's reservation that a vote could not take place immediately before planned action, because it would send a signal to Saddam Hussein, took the edge off the government's concession. If the vote is held after the event it will hardly represent a proper chance for the Commons to influence the outcome.
Tuesday's Commons debate on Iraq passed off fairly uneventfully. Cynical timing and heavyhanded pressure from the Whips' Office ensured that Labour's backbench dissidents did not get out of hand. Tony Blair will probably have more trouble at the Labour Party Conference where the trade unions will add their weight to the criticisms of the constituency parties.
The Prime Minister's short speech was welljudged but he left open the key question of whether Britain would join the United States in military action without UN authority. Ian Duncan Smith did not rise to the occasion; he reiterated the Opposition's general support for the Government but failed to do his job by asking leading questions about issues Mr Blair had avoided. This task therefore fell to the Liberal leader Charles Kennedy who angered Tory backbenchers by raising the same important longerterm issues that John Major had identified earlier in the week.