One is by Jonathan Foreman (full disclosure: he is a friend with whom I have been exchanging messages on events in the last few days) in the FT. [If the link doesn't give you the article, go through Google.] Mr Foreman says that the whole theory of "reactive policing" is wrong and has been proved so many times over, most particularly in the last few days.
The police should not be relying on CCTV but should be present on the ground.This endemic overreliance on technology also deforms policing culture: officers lose any sense that their job is to deter crime by their presence alone, rather than just to react. This attitude was all too apparent after the riots when officers, and then the home secretary, seemed puzzled that the public was not satisfied with assurances that (thanks to CCTV) most of the looters would be caught.The looters are being caught but how much would it have been if the whole sequence had been stopped on Monday night by police action.
A tough article by Allister Heath (also a friend - this is turning out to be one of those postings) in Wednesday's City AM.
The cause of the riots is the looters; opportunistic, greedy, arrogant and amoral young criminals who believe that they have the right to steal, burn and destroy other people’s property. There were no extenuating circumstances, no excuses. The context was two-fold: first, decades of failed social, educational, family and microeconomic policies, which means that a large chunk of the UK has become alienated from mainstream society, culturally impoverished, bereft of role models, permanently workless and trapped and dependent on welfare or the shadow economy. For this the establishment and the dominant politically correct ideology are to blame: they deemed it acceptable to permanently chuck welfare money at sink estates, claiming victory over material poverty, regardless of the wider consequences, in return for acquiring a clean conscience. The second was a failure of policing and criminal justice, exacerbated by an ultra-soft reaction to riots over the past year involving attacks on banks, shops, the Tory party HQ and so on, as well as an official policy to shut prisons and reduce sentences. Criminals need to fear the possibility and consequence of arrest; if they do not, they suddenly realise that the emperor has no clothes. At some point, something was bound to happen to trigger both these forces and for consumerist thugs to let themselves loose on innocent bystanders.Actually, he is not entirely accurate. The lootings were not the cause of anything, they were just that: looting, arson and vandalism on a major scale. Let us not dignify this with the name riot.
But while all three main parties are responsible for flawed policies that have fuelled this growing underclass at a time of national prosperity – 5.5m-6m adults now on out of work benefits, a number that has been roughly constant for over two decades – the argument made by some that the riots were “caused” or “provoked” by cuts, university fees or unemployment is wrong-headed. Just because someone is in personal trouble doesn’t give them the right to rob, attacks or riot.
Charles Crawford (not quite a friend but a good acquaintance) talks of the death of common sense. I have never been quite sure how Charles managed to survive in the FCO for quite as long as he did and not lose his clarity of thought.
And finally, Ed West (something between an acquaintance and a friend) gives an interesting twist to the subject. Polygamous societies, he says, are naturally violent. And let us not forget, that polygamy can and does exist without the people in question bothering to get married.
Tomorrow or, rather, later today I shall try to return to normal blogging. Inshallah or Deo Volente. I am being serious inclusive here.
ADDENDUM: One more link, also on The Commentator, which is fast becoming a must-read site. Owner/publisher Robin Shepherd writes about the Left squirming as their edifice collapses.
But this is what happens when the collapsing social edifice is so plainly your collapsing social edifice. The truth is too painful to confront. For starters, let’s not forget that the essential political context in today’s Britain is that we have just come out of 13 years of Labour government, while the new coalition is both in its infancy and overwhelming concerned with bringing down the massive levels of debt bequeathed by its predecessor. It hasn’t had time to leave its mark yet, and it’s hard to imagine any reasonable observer suggesting otherwise.The only problem with that analysis in my view is that the Left is not squirming but is being self-righteous and whiney in turn.
Even more devastating for the Guardian and company is that the high-tax, high welfare-dependency, regulation-saturated, relativistic, multi-culturalist society that we live in bares the unmistakable imprint of the thinking being spewed out of the pages of Left-wing newspapers for decades.
Internationally, the Right may have won the Cold War, but domestically, the socio-political culture war has largely been won by the Left.
To be sure, the riots that have swept London and shocked the world were not led by people with a political axe to grind as such.
Nonetheless, people respond to, and become formed by, the broader physical and cultural environment around them.
And from the crime-ridden council estates in which they were brought up, to the sink schools they went to which taught them nothing, to the courts they have encountered that refuse to jail them, to the welfare departments that stump up cash for them without question and to the prevailing relativism that says concepts such as right and wrong are to be derided and laughed at, that physical and cultural environment was constructed by the British Left.