If you didn’t notice last week we saw a bit of unrest in pockets around the country. The police decided to sit back and do some ‘softly softly’ policing aka known as ‘CCTV policing’ and some youths (and older people) thought that they could have a bit of fun and let out all their adrenaline in a five finger discount looting kind of way. Things got pretty hairy as 100s of people essentially took over neighbourhoods and did whatever they liked with seemingly no-one willing or able to stop them.
However as we all know the police started to get themselves into gear and stopped it and starting cleaning up the mess with lots of arrests and some rather harsh sentences. The clean-up operation will cost tens of millions in cash and the psychological clean-up of those who have lost their homes and businesses will take longer. It is not right that anyone should have to live with fear but that is what these selfish individuals have done to society.
So the common man whether they are working class, middle class or upper class is wanting swift and retaliatory action. They don’t want these people to be given normal sentences they want to see heavy-handed sentences to crush the rebellion (well it wasn’t a rebellion in all honesty) well then to crush the spirit of these lawbreakers who have no sense of social responsibility. These made grave errors of judgement and the average Joe wants them to kind – in kind.
These leads to a position where the two main party leaders are going toe to toe on who can be tougher on crime. It took a few days of wanton criminality for them to turn their attention from the deficit and the economy to who has the biggest and hardest set of balls on them. It seems like only a fortnight or so ago (oh wait…it was) that the death penalty somehow made another attempt at making it into the news-cycle. That news story has gone away for now as even Dave and Ed couldn’t advocate hanging for these people – well unless they thought it was a vote winner that is.
You see this is what pisses me off about politicians and it happens day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out (ok Neil we get the picture) that these people change their view on things to get closer to the public sentiment. Why not just have an opinion and stick to it? Yes there might be slow changes in your views in time but politicians can change their view wildly within days depending on what the public are. This isn’t a game of ‘who is most popular?’ it is meant to be about governing the country.
We expect to see the electorate to change their opinion on a whim as we can’t do anything about it. It is just how it is. However MPs should not be cow-towing to the latest whim of the people. If they did that then the country would be in an awful state. I expect the party leaders to be statesmanlike and do their job and not use every situation as a political point-scoring opportunity. I may be naive (you are) but I want my elected representatives to stand for something. If in a year or so this happens again and rioters are shot dead by the police then the public perception will change because it has actually happened. Many will say today that the police should be more heavy handed but if it happens again and they are and it leads to deaths and even more unrest then watch the two men scramble for the more middle ground.
It just sickens me. Yes be tough on crime. We all advocate that but there is being tough and then there is being unjust and unfair. These people made mistakes and deserve to pay for them. What they don’t deserve though are punishments that are not in keeping with what has happened before.
As for ensuring it doesn’t happen again – well that is a much bigger issue and maybe one for another day but it would mean the police being something that strikes fear into people. These criminals had no fear as the police weren’t going to stop them. If the police though were ready and willing to stop them then would this have happened? The short answer is no – no they wouldn’t. A small handful will have tried and failed and the majority of people who only joined in because they thought they would get away with it would never have joined in. The police need to be a force that has the power to stop people just by being there.
Lastly I’ve not mentioned Nick Clegg yet. I’m trying to look at you Nick but I can’t find you. I’m here waiting for you to speak and I am ready to listen to what you have to say. I know you are in government but you are entitled to have your say and there are millions of us who want to hear what you think. Whilst you are Deputy PM you are also the leader of the third biggest political party in the country and you are not providing leadership to your followers and that is an issue I have with you. I believe in what you are doing in government but I also want to still hear you and the media are happy to let you talk so why won’t you?
The Tories are ready to follow Tony Blair’s lead and try to strip away at civil liberties under the guise of making the country fairer. Are you ready to let them and if you aren’t then why don’t you tell us all about it? If you are then my faith in you will be rocked so it will.
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