Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It was "we" wot dun it

London spent a fairly quiet night, with the plods being rooted out of their comfy offices and put back on the streets where they belong. It says something of modern policing, however, that the Met-Plods employ 32,500 officers together with about 14,200 police staff, 230 traffic wardens and 4,300 plastic plods. Yet, only by Herculean effort, and with the assistance of 20 other forces, do they manage to put 16,000 plods on duty in the city.

However, as The Guardian and many others gaily inform us, in a fourth night of rioting, the violence has spread to some of England's provincial cities, including Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and Leicester. If that trend continues, it may mean that some of the provincial "services" want some of their plods back.

Politicians and police planners may then have to confront the aphorism to which we have on occasion referred: "there are more of us than there are of them". They police by consent, or not at all. There are limits to how many plods can be put on the ground, and how long they can be kept there.

That has not in any way checked the torrent of EVM pouring from the MSM, and particularly the print media. Yet we would do well to remind ourselves that the views expressed are those of a failing industry, that is haemorrhaging circulation as fast as the plods are losing support. The media no more gets it right than have the plods, or the politicians who rely on them for protection.

One of the many prize contributions of the day from this failing industry comes from Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror, who launches into a vitriolic condemnation of the: "illiterate, swaggering thugs who have sucked up benefits like their mother's milk". These are the "witless morons", writes Parsons, pronouncing that the riots are "a crime against all the people who live their lives with quiet decency", and "a crime against the working class of this country".

That and much more positions the Mirror firmly against the rioters. Parsons has no truck with the "apologists" who bleat that "it is about unemployment, or police violence, or the cuts in public services". That is all rubbish, our man of the people firmly declares.

All very well and good – but never mind the intellectual inconsistency. "The people who are out on our streets robbing, burning, looting, throwing bottles and putting people of the minimum wage out of a job are self-pitying scumbags. There is no justification for what they do. This is beyond all politics – and beyond all special pleading", Parsons informs us. "The riots have no moral authority".

And then, tucked into all that are these two sentences: "In the end – softened up with their human rights, pampered with a benefits system that was meant to protect the vulnerable – we get this shabby shower. We have produced a generation that is good for nothing but, paradoxically, is afraid of nothing".

It is the last of those two sentences that gives the game away: "We have produced a generation ... ". That is "we" - us ... not the rioters. We, the collective, society, its politicians, teachers, hoards of social workers, sundry bureaucrats, police, members of the "justice industry" and all the rest. "We" have produced a lost generation.

So yes, you can blame the "self-pitying scumbags". Go for it. We must set the plods free to root them out. But if one stops for just one short moment, a little voice might ask, who really are the "witless morons"? Who is this "we" that produced a lost generation? Who are the real "scumbags"?

Uncomfortable thoughts, those ... better not to think. Bring on the water cannon and the plastic bullets. Those are much easier to deal with.