BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Audio/Video: Programmes: Breakfast with Frost
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

DAVID FROST: Now crime was the big issue of this year's Queen's Speech, there were all of five Bills on law and order and the government say they're focusing on what they're calling the yob culture, but meanwhile the Conservatives say our police force is just too small nowadays to battle crime. Well I'm joined now by the Shadow Home Secretary, we've a million other things to talk to her about as well, Ann Widdecombe's here, good morning Ann.

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Good morning to you.

DAVID FROST: Can I ask you about that, what your reaction was to that story that dominated the front page of the Independent, the idea of a morning after pill, do you think that's wise or immoral?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well certainly I don't think it will come as any surprise to you to find that it doesn't at all fit in with my moral views as to what should happen but I think there are also very big questions health-wise as to whether it will encourage even more teenage sexual activity, as to whether it will encourage people into unprotected sexual activity, thinking to themselves well it's alright, you know I can sort this out tomorrow morning. So I think there are also big health issues and when the pilot schemes were on we found women actually preferring to travel to the pilots rather than to consult their own doctors. It must always be in a woman's interest to consult her own doctor so I think there are health issues as well as moral ones involved in it.

DAVID FROST: And so you would hope that in some way it would stop?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well I would have never¿

DAVID FROST: Not Maida Vale though¿

ANN WIDDECOMBE: I would never have approved of it anyway, but I think this sort of wide-spread availability raises questions that go way beyond the moral ones.

DAVID FROST: What about what Robin Cook, did you hear him earlier, did you¿it sounded from the way he put it that Britain's been doing reasonably well out there?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well I mean we can all see that very little has been going well out there, I mean the fact is that Tony Blair has not managed to disentangle, two things, that is enlargement and just relentless political integration. I mean he's boasting away about well we've managed to protect our veto on tax, there should never have been any question of failing to protect our veto on tax. We should be protecting our veto on everything, that is what we should be doing, we should be preserving Britain's interest, most people would say that as far as political integration has gone we have reached a stage now where we want to make sure that member states have their own sovereignty.

DAVID FROST: But I mean if there were these six red line areas, if he's held on to all of those that would be good going wouldn't it?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well anybody would think that he couldn't have held on to them.

DAVID FROST: You've only got to say no, you mean?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Indeed you don't have to give up your veto so anybody would think it's a great triumph that he's held on to any when our line would have been he should hold on to the whole lot. It is not a sufficient triumph to come back and say oh well I just haven't given way on this, we should have maintained our veto in those areas where we have the veto at the moment.

DAVID FROST: What about the thing I mentioned in the introduction about this, this week's speech, the Queen's Speech, that William Hague was making that quip about and so on, on the, on the new measures, five of them, fighting crime and fixed penalties for drunkenness, child curfews for 16 and fixed penalties for disorder and all of those, how many of those do you agree with and how many do you disagree with?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well there are two points to make, the first is we've heard it all before David, this is not new, the government announced curfew orders almost as soon as they came into power and they brought them in for a different age group. There hasn't been since that time one single curfew order, not one single curfew order under that legislation. They then tried anti-social behaviour orders and for a very long time there were only a handful of those. And they have a record of making large announcements, introducing legislation and then nothing actually happens afterwards and I think what we've got here is typical Labour, you've got a lot of spin , you've got a lot of large announcements, big initiatives, completely ignoring the fact they've failed with their other initiatives which they haven't yet got right and also that they simply haven't got the police to implement all of this. So even if we agreed with every line of it, which we're by no means certain until we see the detail, but even if we did agree with every line of it I would still be sitting here saying to you that the most important thing is to get enough police so that they can carry out these and for that matter any other measures.

DAVID FROST: But how would you do better, we, we touched on this last time Ann, and you mentioned the thing about trying to cut down on the paperwork that the police would do, but how else would you, higher salary? How would you get, people do not want seem to want to become policemen anymore, they're happy to go to private security firms, it appears, not, not that well paid, why don't they want to be police any more and what could you actually do tangibly?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Right, well let me first of all say why I don't think they want to be police any more, because they're not allowed to police. I think policemen actually join up to fight crime, they don't join up to spend, for example, five hours processing one prisoner through custody and in case you think that's a rarity, that is quite commonplace as to what the police have to do. They don't do that, they sign up to fight crime and they're having to spend far too much time on paperwork, there is something you can do about that, it isn't just reducing their paperwork, it's also taking away from the police inessential tasks and giving them elsewhere to free up the police. But then how do we increase the police, I put forward a whole raft of proposals, a police cadet force, for example, better use of specials in rural as well as urban areas, part-time policemen, perhaps retained policemen like we have retained firemen. I have put forward a raft of proposals and this government has not adopted a single one of them. Now that would be alright if they were actually being successful on some course of their own, but the fact is we've had two announcements from Jack Straw of increasing the police and since both those announcements police numbers have fallen even further.

DAVID FROST: But in terms, Ann, of both prisons and police, obviously in giving people longer sentences, serving longer sentences and so on, more police being, all of this is going to mean a cost level on this, I mean, and in this area, I mean Tony Blair said would, would you in fact match the government spending on the police and law order. Well that's one question, would you match that, but in fact to build more prisons is going to be massively expensive, more prisons than under Labour?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well let's actually look at those two issues, first of all recruiting more police, yes that has a cost to it but it's a cost that we were meeting only three years ago because three years ago we had 3,000 more police than we've got at the moment, for that matter we have 5,000 more special constables and more than 400 more civilian staff working for the police. So we were meeting those costs, we were funding that level of policing only three years ago, it's not as if this hasn't happened since the middle of the last century and when it comes to prisons, we enlarged prisons immensely during our last period in government but we did so through the private finance initiative so that you spread your costs and it is perfectly possible to do that and indeed we must do it because law and order impacts on everybody's quality of life and I'm determined that we're going to make a massive impact.

DAVID FROST: Fox hunting, you're, obviously that's, you're schizophrenic on that?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: I'm not remotely schizophrenic on it, I am opposed to fox hunting, I've never been schizophrenic on that, you've never¿

DAVID FROST: No, no, no, but the party, the party is?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: No the party's not schizophrenic, you've never seen me vote any other way.


ANN WIDDECOMBE: The party has always taken the line, quite consistently, that it's a free vote issue but what I would say is this, anybody who thinks they can trust this government to get rid of hunting must be in cloud cuckoo land, they had it in their manifesto before the last election, they've now introduced it at the very last minute in a year when most legislation is not actually going to get through just on the timetable, in order that they can put it in their manifesto for the next election. How can you trust this government to do anything.

DAVID FROST: What about your policy on drugs, the famous controversy over your, your fines and criminal record and so on which, you would, you've withdrawn that idea have you, you've admitted you were wrong on that?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: Well it was one very small part of a very large policy and one of the things I regret in the furore which erupted was that people did not look at my policies on supply, did not look at my policies on substantial possession, didn't look at the policies that we've introduced for dealing even soft drugs to children. I didn't look at those policies and concentrated wholly on policies regarding low level possession. I have said, because you know I'm practical, that if a policy runs into those sorts of troubled waters you stop and you say can we approach this in a different way but the one thing that I am not prepared to compromise on is this, drugs cause one third of all crime, they cause 80 per cent of all burglaries, we do a complete injustice to every single victim of those crimes if we don't try and make an impact on the drugs culture.

DAVID FROST: What about the party culture at the moment, everybody says that under the leadership of William Hague there are these two wings of the Tory Party, there's the authoritarian rocker wing which is you and there's the libertarian mod wing which is Michael Portillo, do you see it that way?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: I don't see it that way and I don't think anybody in the party sees it that way. Usually this supposed division is put in terms of well I'm a social authoritarian and Michael Portillo's the social liberal but if you actually look at our policies, I mean both Michael Portillo and I take the view that you should support marriage in the tax system, the party had a very clear stance against the repeal of Section 28, as far as I'm concerned inclusivity means reaching out towards those who are struggling to live decently on those very large inner city council estates, we should be reaching out to them, making sure that our policies actually make it possible for them to live in a safe environment¿

DAVID FROST: But¿yeah is he more, he's more inclusive in terms of reaching out to gays and reaching out to people than you or not?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: I don't want to outlaw homosexuals, I don't want to persecute them in any way so I don't think actually that, that this huge difference that there is between us amounts to very much. I have always said and I stand by utterly and absolutely that society must have a preferred model, that that model must be the traditional family, that is why we're support marriage in the tax system so I cannot really see that there is the huge distinction that you said. And the one thing that that has happened to this party under William Hague's leadership is that we've become more united than for many years.


ANN WIDDECOMBE: Oh very much so.

DAVID FROST: Well thank you very much for being here this morning, we could, we could go on, we'll discuss that some more next time you're here in the meantime I think you've got a new hairstyle haven't you?

ANN WIDDECOMBE: It's the same one twiddled a bit.

DAVID FROST: Good to have you with us this morning.


Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Breakfast with Frost stories