Monday, 8 August 2011

Let's cast Dave and Boris as Nero and Caligula

To describe the feral youth of London as anything other than criminal is to give them far too much intellectual and ideological clout.  Their trail of fear and destruction is an evil spree, not motivated either by a political grievance or a genuine desire for anarchy - a concept which relies upon positive human instincts and respect for others and the world around you.  Therefore by default it is only possible to have sympathy with the police's poor bloody infantry and the victims of gangsterism run amok.

There will doubtless be much hand-wringing about alienation and the continued failings of the police force, demonstrated admirably by the unravelling over Murdoch's tentacles extended into the higher echelons of the Met.  The social evils that exist are genuine, and need to be addressed as a matter of course, but without any intention of providing amelioration as some kind of reward for bad behaviour.  Liberal instincts must be to protect all individuals, which does not mean prioritising the rights of the violent and the disfunctional over the rest of the community.

Social cohesion has been systematically eroded through economic lunacy - that much is clear.  Creating a society based around material aspiration as the only means of self-validation has been deeply damaging, but the evils of unfettered neo-conservative social and econmic constructs create ghetto conditions and, for both those benefiting from the system and those excluded, exacerbate the fear of "the other" that has reduced most discourse to a sequence of hand-wringing platitudes.  On one side you get the dribbling semi-racist ravings of the mid-market Tory tabloids, and on the other a mirror image of intolerance, and never the twain shall meet.

It has been interesting to compare the response of Labour MPs to that of their Tory counterparts.  The latter tap into the middle class rhetoric of "mindless thuggery" (quite correctly in some cases) but listening to David Lammy and Diane Abbott (very glad I voted for her as Labour leader!) shows that they have a grasp of the underlying issues of social dislocation as well as a healthy anger against the morons who have been exploiting the situation for considerable personal gain and maximum disruption to the more socialised.

As a Liberal, I don't subscribe to the idea that one extends infinite tolerance, and it was good to see Simon Hughes making clear his views on what is happening in Southwark and the need for the community to assert discipline.  Even the hapless Clegg managed a decent fist of it, actually going to Tottenham to see for himself what had happened and engage with people affected by the criminality, rather than Theresa May's supreme vacuity and irrelevance, uttering Tory shire platitudes from the safety of the Home Office media room.  So there has been some good performance from most sides of the political spectrum.

The lacuna at the heart of Government has been the Bullingdon Boys, both of whom are now returning from their holiday haunts with something of chastisement.  Dave has been fiddling while London burns, while Boris continues to employ the smug, inadequate Kit Malthouse to act as a smarmy go-between.  He would do much better with a horse.

Time to pray things don't get any worse.

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