Daily Post column: Why Chris Grayling is wrong about The Wire
I've just finished reading David Simon's true crime book Homicide - a year on the killing streets.
"The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed or bludgeoned to death," states the back cover.
That was back in 1988 when Simon spent a year with Baltimore Police's homicide unit, a year when 234 people died violent deaths in the American city.
Fast forward to 2009 and suddenly shadow minister for Merseyside Chris Grayling is comparing Liverpool to the Baltimore depicted in cult TV show The Wire, also written by Simon and partly inspired by Homicide.
For the uninitiated The Wire is police drama where drug dealing is rife and murder a virtual everyday occurrence.
To date this year there have been 145 murders in Baltimore, in Merseyside there have been 14.
Plainly the facts do not support Mr Grayling's assertion that: "The Wire used to be just a work of fiction for British viewers. But under this Government, in many parts of British cities, The Wire has become a part of real life in this country too."
Later in the speech he went on to name check Liverpool.
He said: "Areas like Speke in Liverpool, top of the national league table for social deprivation. Violent crime and arson there are up more than 50% in a year."
Having watched all five series of The Wire and as a Merseyside reporter I can tell Mr Grayling he is wrong.
Yes there are problems with gun crime and drug dealing in Liverpool, but is it really comparable to Baltimore? No.
Interestingly politicians are portrayed in The Wire as being a large part of the problem in Baltimore, cooking statistics and their meddling often compromising police work.
Mr Grayling has gone out of his way to visit Liverpool since becoming shadow minister for Merseyside.
And he has done this without a song and a dance visiting community activists across the city. He has also courted, and been courted in turn by the city's business community.
I don't think Mr Grayling set out to burn bridges in Liverpool.
On the numerous occasions we have met, he has always struck me as someone who wants to bring some fresh thinking to tackling the cycle of deprivation and benefits culture that exists in many estates, not just in Liverpool, but cities up and down the country.
The wider point he makes that it is not acceptable that many in this country have to live with the courge of crime and the misery of drug dealing is of course right.
And it is of course August - silly season - if you want. That means it is a very good time to make a speech that you know will grab headlines.