John Key made a speech to the Police Association today proposing a whole raft of new police powers, ranging from banning gangs to taking DNA samples from anyone who is arrested, regardless of whether they’re found guilty or innocent.
To justify these proposed new powers he relied heavily on the subtext that crime is out of control and we have a government letting criminals get away with blue murder.
Police need new laws and powers to fight “21st Century crime”, he said. “The National Party is convinced we can do better at putting in place the laws and policies needed to front-up to criminality in our society… when our leaders give in to crime, our society pays the price.”
But is crime really out of control? As usual, John was somewhat lacking in substance:
“The size of the criminal threat is measurable not only by crime statistics, but by the widespread fears of everyday Kiwis. Kiwis fear that ours is not a safe society.
Notice he didn’t talk about what the stats actually say, but relied instead on what “Kiwis fear”.
And there’s a good reason for this. Because you see, for all their talk of law and order, the record shows the Nats just aren’t that good at cutting crime. Not only is crime going down under Labour, it’s going down at a faster rate than it ever did under National.
What today’s speech shows is that rather than basing his policies on evidence and what’s best for New Zealanders, John Key is basing them on fear. Fear he’s more than happy to stoke himself:
“They fear that their personal security is at risk: Children being beaten to death by their parents. Paroled offenders murdering innocent citizens. Gang shootings. P-induced frenzied attacks on innocent citizens. Youth gangs intimidating communities. These things strike worry into the hearts of all New Zealanders.”
Yes John, they do. Because people they should be able to trust, like you, lie to them about the threat of crime to scare them into voting for you. It’s cynical politics at its worst, and you deserve to be pilloried for it.