It was a great pleasure to welcome Nick Clegg to Islington again last week. He joined me on a visit to the Times ABC (Amateur Boxing Club) to meet David Ryan and other leading club members, and also discuss youth provision with George Kinsella.
The Times ABC does fantastic work, and it’s supported by many organisations, including our Lib Dem Council. Council leader Terry Stacy was part of the visit too, and reminisced about his time sparring at the Repton Boys Club as a youth.
The club was heaving with young people training: the club has a proper gym and its work is as much about fitness, training, confidence and discipline as it is about fighting. I understand people’s concerns about the long-term physical damage that professional boxing can do. But amateur boxing has good safeguards and I believe the work of clubs like Times keeps far more young people safe than it puts at any risk. So I’m right behind the club’s ambitions to extend their building and help even more young people.
Nick was speaking out against the criminialisation of a generation of young people under Labour. Over a million children have been convicted of a criminal offence since 1997 and another million have been cautioned. It’s not just a waste of young lives and opportunity: it’s a waste of public money too. As Nick points out, the Government spends eleven times more locking up our young people than it does on backing projects to stop them getting involved in crime in the first place.
The number of visits Nick Clegg has made to Islington as party leader is nearing double figures, and there’s more to come. It’s great to have him in our corner for the fight ahead.