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London Tonight Tonight Thursday 17th July

London Tonight Tonight Thursday 17th July

Good afternoon.

Benjamin Disraeli was not, as many think, the first Jewish MP - that was Lionel de Rothschild, who sat in the House of Commons for nearly 20 years in the mid-C19th and never uttered a word. Disraeli, on the other hand, could hardly be got to shut-up. Among his wonderful bon mots was "There are lies, damn lies and statistics". Mark Twain pinched it but it was originally Dizzy's.

I think it should be plastered across the walls of the new Home Office, where today they published the first set of "definitive" knife crime statistics. More shocking than the numbers (22,000 cases nationally, more than 7,000 of them here in London) is the outrageous stupidity that led some number -cruncher or policy wonk, to exclude episodes involving the under 16s. Yes, I know, many of the 20 knife murder victims in the capital this year have been under 16 and, I daresay, a goodly proportion of the perpetrators aren't old enough to get a provisional licence, either. Nevertheless, we will trawl through the data we do have and look forward to next year when, for the first time since Robert Peel, who was Home Secretary about 50 years before Dizzy was PM, established the first Police force, we will have numbers including under-16 knife crime.

By then "Tracey" will be a year older and a year wiser. Not that long ago that would have been a brave claim. She was a teenage gangster who ended up in jail and was shot. It was a sort of Road to Damascus moment for her, and she has gone straight and is sharing her conversion with any kids who will listen. We listened and were impressed, and Jon will share his conversation with her with you, in the hope you agree with us.

I know you will agree with us that the case of Gabriel and Vivian, who separated, is moving. Separation is sad but it happens. What followed was more than sad, it was catastrophically tragic. Vivian was convinced her children had died at birth and that the children living with her weren't her's. Gabriel - the children's father was aware of this madness as were the Social Services. Ronke describes the catastrophe that followed, and what Gabriel says is the entirely inadequate and unacceptable response of the Social Services.

What might prove to be both acceptable and adequate as a policy initiative is Croydon's trial of only selling booze to the over 21s. Croydon Borough Council doesn't sell much booze itself apart from at occasional civic functions when they try to cover the budget, but they do issue licences to pubs, clubs and social events. Sharon pops down to the home of the tram to find out why they're considering new licensing rules.

Finally a medical theme which led to some fierce debate in our meeting: Faye, stunning in gold sandals and a cream cocktail dress (she's going out for dinner with the "girls" tonight) said we had a report on a scanner which showed vital organs in 4D -"every which way, round and back, and from every side" my notes suggest she bubbled with Stephen Hawking-ish enthusiasm. "The 4th dimension is..... time", the Big Boss and I observed in near harmony. "Right" warbled the irrepressible Faye. She paused and said "It's still magic!". She is right in her description, even if her grasp of physics is well short of her grasp of haute couture - in which she really does excel.

The next is " Harley Street ", a new ITV drama which we thought we'd give you a preview of. The contention here is about the drama - "ER it ain't - George Clooney it ain't" someone was heard to say. You must make your own minds up but with Lucy, our top purveyor of "ooful dust" on hand, I am sure we will give it the fairest of winds as it leaves us and heads for your sitting rooms.

Robin is currently talking holidays and houses with Katie - and may share. The papers will be there with something old, something new, something borrowed and, in some cases, something blue.

And we'll be there, in the hope you'll join us.

Alastair and Katie.