Another week, another breathtaking performance by Michael Howard.
This week Howard painted a bleak picture of Gotham City, sorry, modern Britain. 'Women are intimidated by hooded youths as they walk home at night,' he said.
Unfortunately, at this point he had distinct look of glee on his face, making you wonder if he spends the odd evening in a hoodie himself, asking random women if they want a swig from his can of Co-op lager, then shouting 'SLAG!' at them as they hurriedly walk away.
In fact, Nosferatu was looking gleeful because the Tories love crime. Traditionally it's the issue that allows them to bash Labour, which is assumed to be 'soft' on crime, despite the fact that the current Labour government has been busily doing everything from slapping ASBOs on the yobbochops to clamping down on speeding.
Fortunately, Michael 'Dark Knight' Howard doesn't let reality get in the way of a good story.
'Couples stay in rather than run the gauntlet of binge drinkers who have taken over our town centres,' said Howard. He's right - you never see couples in town centres, do you? (At TFT we extend an invitation to Michael Howard to visit planet Earth.)
Howard then reeled off the now-familiar stats: gun crime has doubled, last year there were one million violent crimes, 100 per cent of people have been mugged, burgled or slightly unnerved by Crimewatch UK, etc.
How have we arrived at this terrifying state of lawlessness? The answer, of course, is that there's been 'a dramatic decline in personal responsibility'. As Howard eagerly pointed out: 'Wha more harmful message can we send than 'It's not your fault, it's society's fault'?'
'Drink bleach', maybe?
And so Howard wibbled on. 'The whole concept of right and wrong has been lost in a load of sociological mumbo-jumbo and politically correct nonsense,' he said. ('Oh cobblers,' we say.) As ever there was a token bit of sympathy for The Poor. 'It's the poorest who suffer most,' said Howard, conveniently ignoring the fact that the Tories spent 18 years trying to make more of them.
However, no Howard speech is complete without some bizarre detour. Howard illustrated his point about lack of personal responsibility by quoting a gang member from the musical West Side Story, who said/sang: 'I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived'. Let's hope he never sees The Rocky Horror Show. 'I would like to ask the Prime Minister what he intends to do about trans-sexual Transylvanian transvestites, who prey on model citizens like Brad and Janet.'
Transylvanian weirdoes aside, what was all this bluster about?
Not much, really. Howard claimed he was saying 'the things that many politicians have been too frightened to say.' But the sort of measures he was proposing were 'cutting paperwork' for the police, or reducing bureaucratic errors in the criminal justice system that allow crimbos to get off. These are real issues, but not exactly controversial.
Howard can huff and puff all he wants about 'zero tolerance', but what does it mean in practice? You could probably stamp out graffiti by putting army snipers with nightsights on top of rail depots, but if you seriously entertain this idea for more than 0 seconds, then you probably think Fred West should head up a taskforce on truancy.
The fact is that crime can never be divorced from social issues, unless you want to forget about any kind of rehabilitation and just hang drug-addicted shoplifters, but that's another article. The good news for politicians like Howard and Blair is that they can just invoke vague concepts like 'personal responsibility' and 'political correctness' and pretend they're uncompromising crime-fighters.
Quick, Boy Wonder! To the Twatmobile!