I’ve been worried about the Greater Manchester Police’s official tweeter for a couple of days now. I mentioned the other day that I didn’t like his or her overbearing tone – but, on the other hand, recognised that most other people, especially those who live in the area in question, seemed perfectly happy with the result.
Today, however, it all seemed to get out of hand. Again, I felt mildly sick, out of sorts, not at all comfortable with what was going on. But, at the same time, seeing no one apparently reacted, I thought little more – or, at least, did little more – as (perhaps I should now ashamedly admit) I passed liverishly by on the other side that is discretion.
In the meantime, Political Scrapbook has been telling the full story here - without, as the Spanish would say, pelos en la lengua …
Then there’s the “Shop A Looter” campaign, from the same part of the world as that gloating tweet – and more information about which the BBC provides here. And I’m really amazed and pleased the police are suddenly so able to catch, charge and put behind bars antisocial miscreants such as these – through the ennobling strategy of energising the democratic collaboration of the sentient English majority: by working alongside, that is, the voting public at large.
I am minded to wonder though whether this is consensual policing or populist policing – as well as if anyone cares to appreciate the difference.
I also do wonder why we can’t operate with the same admirable haste in other notable cases of corrupting societal influences: with financial services sector executives who cocked up big-time with money, jobs, pension schemes and futures that really weren’t theirs to cock up; with MPs who were given the opportunity to pay back their looted expenses instead of serve the time the looters quite rightly are now undergoing; and with journalists and editors who’ve spent the last decade operating illegally with the connivance and virtual authority of a whole political and legal establishment.
I mean I’d love to see a double-decker bus driving through the centre of the City with the bowler-hatted exponents of financial fraud pasted up on either side. Or, alternatively, where appropriate, a bendy-bus in the centre of Marbella, alongside the golfing greens where so many ex-CEOs of banking disasters are now almost certainly to be found.
If only …
But it actually now gets worse. A certain David Starkey, an apparently respected and popularising historian, was reported to have said on British television the other night:
In an appearance on BBC2′s Newsnight, Starkey spoke of “a profound cultural change” and said he had been re-reading Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech.
“His prophesy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber did not foam with blood but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham,” he said.
“But it wasn’t inter-community violence. This is where he was absolutely wrong.” Gesturing towards one of the other guests, Owen Jones, who wrote Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Classes, Starkey said: “What has happened is that a substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black.”
Tottenham’s Labour MP, David Lammy, was then referenced by Starkey in the following way:
[...] “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypal successful black man. If you turn the screen off so that you are listening to him on radio you would think he was white.”
So whilst for the Greater Manchester Police tweeters, populist policing would now appear to have replaced consensual policing – at least for rioters and looters, if not bankers, MPs and newspaper people – for individuals like Mr Starkey, the revolution underway is a direct result of people not appreciating the importance of sticking with their assigned stereotypes.
Hardly surprising he should think this, given the attitudes – expressed through the very social media Mr Cameron is looking to censor – of some members of our rather more significantly outspoken establishment.
David Lammy’s response, by the way, whilst understandable in the circumstances, hardly infuses me with any greater degree of hope in what’s beginning to look like a very dodgy future. This, his tweet in question:
Yes, I have now seen what he said. His views are irrelevant – he’s a tudor historian talking about contemporary urban unrest.
So is this the mark of the civilisation we’re looking to build? A democracy which only allows you a certain radius of action? A society where you are only relevant in terms of the silo of specialism in which you are deposited?
Are we really saying you can only talk about riots if you’ve got that PhD in Contemporary Looting?
Mr Lammy, that’s not civilisation either. No, sir.
Or, at the very least, not my idea of what it could – and should – mean.
Silos of specialism lead to walls of misunderstanding – and walls of misunderstanding, in part, in the aftermath of the riots, will only serve to exacerbate an already extremely delicate situation.
Don’t you think?