Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tory bashes the Mail - a Nixon in China moment

I won't see Newsnight tonight, or any night for that matter as I rarely watch TV, but the Newsnight newsletter tells me that the one phrase from the Tory handbook on crime-fighting that no-one ever forgets is, arguably, Michael Howard's mantra that 'prison works'.
But that was old Tory, it says, and today Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has torn up the handbook and called short term sentences an expensive failure. He accuses previous Labour home secretaries of building up the prison population with 'a chequebook and a copy of the Daily Mail'.
This is a real Nixon in China moment.  When was the last time a Labour politician dared to deride the Daily Mail?


  1. Ha! it’s a generation thing. President Nixon visited Mao in China in 1972 to normalise US-China relations. Nixon was proud to be known as rabidly anti-Communist, and so (reputedly) he dared to undertake this initiative, in contrast to his immediate predecessors, Kennedy and Johnson, who being Democrats, felt a greater need to adopt a rigid posture visavis China, lest they be accused of being “soft on Communism”. I don’t know what historians make of this interpretation, but this is its meaning as phrase in ordinary use.

    There's an interesting looking Wikipedia article (which I haven't read) on how the phrase Nixon goes to China came into being