So today saw another day of campaigning; the Tories launching their National Citizen Service and Labour telling successful businessmen to go and roger themselves with sharp sticks. Of course, with the Tories launching a policy, Labour's attack dogs couldn't wait to get their teeth stuck in. Ed Balls, Gordon Brown's favourite ugly puppy, said:
"Despite today's announcement, the truth is that David Cameron's Conservative Party still stands for opportunities only for some young people and not all.
All we saw today is a flaky plan to cut the Prevent programme which is a key part of Contest, the UK’s counter terrorism strategy."
Leaving aside the word 'flaky', the second sentence there appears to be true. However, what Ed Balls has conveniently forgotten is that the Prevent programme is an utter pile of shit. In fact, not only is it an utter pile of shit, it has actually been making the problems it was supposed to tackle even worse. And that's not me talking, that's the opinion of Parliament's Communities and Local Government Select Committee, chaired by Labour MP Phyllis Starkey. The committee concluded just over a month ago that that:
"As delivered so far, the Prevent programme has stigmatised and alienated those it is most important to engage, and tainted many positive community cohesion projects, says a cross-party committee of MPs. Moreover, the government’s strategy to limit the development of violent extremism in the UK sits poorly within a counter-terrorism strategy."
There is an issue that looks set to come up a lot during this campaign, and that is Labour trying to scare people into thinking the Tories are going to savage and slice all the most precious things the government does. So today he decided to claim the Tories would cut vital funding for preventing terrorism, and that in a way this attack comes as no surprise. But it also makes the choice at this election very clear; by stressing the apparent importance of this scheme, what Balls has actually said is that Labour know it's a load of crap but are going to continue funding it anyway. Much like with the National Insurance issue, they have identified waste, but have no intention of diverting the money into something more useful. What people need to ask themselves is whether that's a sensible approach for government to take, because there's a very clear answer to that question.