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Views of the week: 18 March 2010

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LGC rounds up the best comment, analysis and opinion from the past week.

England’s children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson in The Times on child crime
The age of criminal responsibility in this country is 10 and should certainly be moved to 12. In some European countries it’s 14. The killing of James Bulger was a terrible case but it was wrong for Jon Venables and Robert Thompson to be tried in an adult court because they were still children. Most western European nations have a completely different way of intervening with youngsters who’ve committed crime. Most of their approaches are more therapeutic, more family and community-based, more about reparation, than simply locking somebody up. It is wrong to describe a child as evil since the backgrounds from which people come are what will shape their character.

Jackie Ashley in the Guardian on swing voters
Tory donor Lord Ashcroft and Charlie Whelan, political director of the Unite trade union, are shoring up their parties’ votes in many of the same marginal seats. There is a serious and damaging political consequence of this focus because this must inevitably narrow the range of messages the parties send out. We get rhetoric shorn of fire and clarity. This is presumably why the parties are so cagey about expressing clear views on the economic dilemmas ahead.

George Osborne and Jeffrey Sachs in the Financial Times on public spending
Delaying the start of deficit reduction would put long-term recovery at risk. Such an approach misjudges politics, financial markets, and underlying economic realities. Blaming our predicament on financial markets ignores the awkward truth that governments have enabled recklessness. Our predicament, in this sense, is a political crisis at least as much as a financial one. Our problems result from short-termism, in which governments have led and bankers chasing high bonuses have been only too keen to follow.

Stephanie Power in Prospect on the end of Liverpool cultural stereotypes
Twenty years ago, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse created the Scousers, three brothers in shell suits who flew off the handle at the slightest provocation. Research commissioned by the city council found being Capital of Culture in 2008 attracted 9.7 million visits and generated £753m for the local economy, and that positive media stories about Liverpool increased by 71%.

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