|HOMEPAGE | NEWS | WORLD SERVICE | SPORT | MY BBC||low graphics | help|
|You are in: Vote2001|
Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 18:47 GMT
Rape film 'desperate' - Labour
Labour has accused the Conservatives of "plumbing the depths" with a new broadcast suggesting the government is directly responsible for dozens of crimes.
The election film - televised on Tuesday evening - says the government's early release scheme has led to more cases of rape and robbery.
Home Office Minister Paul Boateng condemned the broadcast as a "dire and desperate" tactic.
But the Tories reject charges of scaremongering and argue it is Labour's record on law and order which is frightening.
The menacing, black and white film echoes a controversial broadcast used by George Bush against Michael Dukakis during the 1988 US presidential race.
That broadcast sparked a political storm and the Tory version is seen as a deliberately controversial move aimed at pushing the spotlight onto law and order.
Fuel tax offensive
The film suggests Labour is to blame for two rapes and dozens of other crimes.
Actors play criminals being let out of jail early and committing crimes.
And it promises the abolition of Labour's early release scheme.
Home Office figures show only 3% of people released under the scheme reoffend - far below the rate for prisoners released normally.
The Conservatives also use the broadcast to renew their offensive on rises in fuel tax under Labour.
The film shows mothers and disabled people looking at their cars in despair because of the cost of fuel.
Home Office Minister Paul Boateng said the broadcast was a damning indictment of how the Tories wanted to use negative campaigning.
He told BBC News: "It shows the depth to which the Tories are now prepared to descend."
Mr Boateng said the home detention curfew scheme - as he called the early release policy - had been successful.
Lib Dem treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor said the broadcast was "hugely misleading".
The Conservatives promise "honesty in sentencing", saying current sentences bear no relation to the time criminals spend in prison.
But Mr Taylor said this could lead to shorter sentences with released prisoners having none of the incentives of being on licence.
The broadcast was also condemned by Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust.
"This is scaremongering. The general public deserve full information."
She argued Conservative plans would see the prison population soar from 65,000 to more than 100,000.
Tory vice-chairman Tim Collins defended the broadcast, saying: "What I think is scary is that this is what is happening in our country today under a Labour Government.
"It is in fact the case that because of the Labour Party's special early release scheme, tens of thousands of criminals have been released on to our streets prematurely."
But former party vice-chairman Michael Dobbs said he found the film "disturbing" and would have had a problem using individual cases himself.
"I think it comes very close to accusing the Labour Government of being personally responsible, and directly responsible, for things such as two rapes."
15 May 01 | Vote2001
Tories hit out over rapes
15 May 01 | Vote2001
Tories struggle with tax row
15 May 01 | Talking Point
Are more bobbies on the beat the answer?
|^^ Back to top
VOTE2001 | Main Issues| Features | Crucial Seats | Key People | Parties | Results & Constituencies | Candidates | Opinion Polls | Online 1000 | Virtual Vote | Talking Point | Forum | AudioVideo | Programmes | Voting System | Local Elections
Nations: N Ireland | Scotland | Wales
To BBC News>> | To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>