Listening to Labour, one could be forgiven for wondering why anyone should have opposed the Conservative Party in the 19th century. After Ed Miliband’s paean to Benjamin Disraeli yesterday, Yvette Cooper used her conference speech to pay tribute to another past Conservative prime minister – Robert Peel. The shadow home secretary said:
Down the road from here in Piccadilly Gardens stands a statue.
Sir Robert Peel, son of Bury, founder of the British police over 180 years ago.
Peel established powerful principles. Ed, you could call them One Nation principles – just a few decades earlier than Disraeli’s Free Trade Hall speech.
He said, “The police are the public, the public are the police.”
Able to uphold our laws not because of coercion but because of consent.
British police are not guards they are guardians.
Like Miliband, she invoked the Conservatives’ past in order to damn their present.
Whatever happened to the party of Peel?
People used to think the Tories backed the police and supported law and order.
Not any more.
Weak on crime, weak on the causes of crime – that is David Cameron’s Conservative Party.
Elsewhere, channelling The Communist Manifesto, Cooper delivered the best line we’ve heard on “pleb gate”.
So come on Conference, let’s bring on the plebiscite.
Plebs of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but this Government.
One trusts that Boris Johnson, who in his speech last year called for those who swear at the police to be arrested, is already preparing his own bon mots.