Labour proud of tough on crime approach as it tries to win back the Red Wall

Labour MP Steve Reed grilled over ‘what party stands for’ on GMB

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Speaking to Express.co.uk, a source close to Labour’s Steve Reed said the criticism is evidence that the party is “heading in the right direction” as it tries to win back hearts and minds of voters in Brexiteer Red Wall seats lost to the Tories. He said that Labour would “never apologise” for its “tough” approach to crime as the party tries to undo the damage done to its reputation during Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-left leadership.

This came after campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform accused the party of indulging in “cheap politics” by accusing the Conservatives of being soft on crime.

The charity’s chief executive, Andrea Coomber QC told the Guardian: “We don’t yet know what the opposition’s policies on prisons or criminal justice are, but the mood music is all ‘tough on crime’, not caring about the criminals or addressing the victims of crimes.

“That does not necessarily provide the opposition that the government needs.

“I think the new shadow lord chancellor, Steve Reed, has certainly been very vocal in his commitment to being tough on criminals, but we don’t know what that means.

“At the moment, it’s just tweets and comments to the media. It is not policy.

“You don’t know what the policy could be.

“The policy could be fantastically progressive, but it’s hard to imagine how that would be consistent with this sort of messaging.”

Labour lost members like Ashfield MP Lee Anderson who became a Conservative after being a lifelong Labour activist, because many traditional voters thought the party had abandoned their values.

Speaking to Express.co.uk about the criticism, the source said: “This is yet more welcome recognition that Labour led by Keir Starmer is heading in the right direction and is now a government-in-waiting.

“Steve is proud of the tough approach he took to tackling crime as leader of Lambeth Council.

“The preventative measures he introduced reduced violent crime by a third in just eighteen months.

“And in the same way, through Community and Victim Payback Boards, Labour is showing how they would tackle anti-social behaviour before it becomes the type of serious offending that has blighted our communities under the Conservatives.

“Labour will never apologise for being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.”

The Labour party has been attempting to transform its image, after Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to law and order was often seen as being too soft.

Mr Reed said Mr Corbyn’s party “cared more about criminals than their victims”.

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He even branded the Conservative party, traditionally much more hard-lined when it comes to law and order, “soft on crime”.

Speaking to the Mirror, he said: “Given the period that Labour’s gone through over the last 10 years, but particularly under the last leadership – the days when Labour cared more about the criminals than about their victims are well and truly over.”

He added: “I think when Jeremy Corbyn was the leader, we gave the impression that we were more concerned about the criminals than about their victims.

“And I think Blair got this right actually.

“Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime is the right thing to do.

“I think the public understand the balance between those two aspects.”

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