The Government has been forced to defend its new crime strategy after a barrage of criticism from the mawkish floral tribute industry.
Leading industry figures have slammed the Government's "cavalier disregard" for the economic benefits of violent crime, which generates nearly £150m each year in sudden purchases of garish flowery tributes for the innocent victims of knifewielding hoodies. The Coalition Home Secretary, Theresa May, had been preparing to announce a new crime reduction strategy intended to reduce murder rates by at least 50% over the next five years.
"It's all very well going on about making people feel safer when they're walking home late at night on council estates," said an industry spokesman. "But mawkish florists rely on the occasional local stabbing or what have you to generate sales and keep their small businesses afloat - we can't rely on people getting sick, not now the NHS has banned flowers from hospitals. Who's thinking of the florists, that's what we want to know."
Sales of mawkish floral tributes have fallen by nearly a third since the industry's heyday, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Observers say that, with no remaining popular members of the Royal Family, only the unexpected demise of a national treasure like Cheryl Cole can save the industry from terminal decline.
The Home Secretary insisted: "I'm fairly sure my plan to reduce murder is the right thing to do, but I do understand that we shouldn't jeopardise small businesses if we're going to protect the economic recovery." She hinted that she may offer a compromise deal, to press ahead with the crime reduction plan but to shelve her road safety strategy. "That way," she told a news conference, "we could still stop some people being killed by criminals but we'd protect the industry's other main source of revenue, the roadside shrine to car accident victims. That way everybody's happy."