Law and Order: Cameron's Kingdom

Posted on: 15 August 2011 by Alexander Hay

Olderiswiser takes an irreverent view on what prime minister David Cameron's rallying cry on law and order really ought to have said

Onward Central Office soldiers, marching as to the inevitable PR fall-out...

'The text says what the text doesn't say' as many a hoary old borderline alcoholic English Literature lecturer will tell you. What they mean is that sometimes what isn't said is every bit as important, if not more so, than what is said.

Such a principle can be applied to David Cameron's not-at-all desperate announcement made in the wake of last week's August Riots. Beyond the hyperbole and pacing and meter that's designed to let him do that thing with his voice whenever he wants to sound firm, the parts missed out were many and revealing. So what didn't he have to say for himself?

Last week we saw some of the most sickening acts on our streets...

'Not as sickening as what goes on in foreign places where I don't go on holiday. Oh no. But you get the drift.'

But last week we didn’t just see the worst of the British people; we saw the best of them too.

The ones who called themselves riot wombles and headed down to the hardware stores to pick up brooms and start the clean-up.

The people who linked arms together to stand and defend their homes, their businesses...

'Let's hear it for the deserving poor. Incidentally, doesn't this prove to you that the Big Society works? Me too. Let's slash even more more state funding'. Also, I got to say 'womble' during a speech. Chortle!'

 ...Of course, we mustn’t oversimplify...

OK...

No, this was about behaviour…

This, dear reader, is what's known as 'cognitive dissonance'.

In this risk-free ground of moral neutrality there are no bad choices, just different lifestyles.

'Why can't we go back to the good old days when you can be a bigot?'

Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face.

'They've been exploding in lots of people's faces for quite a while, but that's when I could ignore it.'

Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences.

Otherwise known as Conservative Party policy since 1979.

Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort.

'Cecil ParkinsonBullingdon Club. Parents rich enough to send me to Eton.'

…from the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights that has undermined personal responsibility…

'Why can't we just lock people up whenever we want?'

…to the obsession with health and safety that has eroded people’s willingness to act according to common sense.

'Let's go back to the good old days of horrific industrial accidents. It's your daughter's fault if she breaks her leg on a school trip anyway.'

To those who say this means we need to abandon our plans to make savings in police budgets, I say you are missing the point.

The point is that what really matters in this fight-back is the amount of time the police actually spend on the streets.

'We can get better policing for less money! Yes! We have finally conquered thermodynamics!'

Elected police and crime commissioners are part of the answer: they will provide that direct accountability so you can finally get what you want when it comes to policing.

'So we can have someone else to blame if it all goes wrong.'

And believe me – I understand the anger with the level of crime in our country today and I am determined we sort it out and restore people’s faith that if someone hurts our society, if they break the rules in our society, then society will punish them for it.

In addition to punishing them for being poor, young and born in the wrong place.

Perhaps they come from one of the neighbourhoods where it’s standard for children to have a mum and not a dad…

Single mothers! Dog whistle! Single mothers!

…where it’s normal for young men to grow up without a male role model, looking to the streets for their father figures, filled up with rage and anger.

'Never a problem for me! That's why my parents sent me to boarding school.'

Yet the truth is that for too long the big bossy bureaucratic state has drained it away...

'So let the big bossy bureaucratic state tell you what to do instead.'

For years we’ve had a system that encourages the worst in people – that incites laziness, that excuses bad behaviour, that erodes self-discipline, that discourages hard work…

Otherwise known as the 'Parliamentary Expenses System'.

Many people have long thought that the answer to these questions of social behaviour is to bring back national service.

They also want the Welsh deported and a return to pre-decimal currency.

In many ways I agree…

'But I'm qualifying this in case it's unpopular.'

…and that’s why we are actually introducing something similar – National Citizen Service.

Which isn't actually similar, but it sounds good in the Daily Mail.

It’s a non-military programme that captures the spirit of national service...

Without the firefights in Malaya.

...Let’s make National Citizen Service available to all sixteen year olds as a rite of passage.

'By 'make available', I mean, 'fudge it so we don't have to do it really as it would cost too much money.'

This social fight-back is not a job for government on its own.

'We're all for everyone else sharing responsibility.'

Government doesn’t run the businesses that create jobs and turn lives around.

'We just bankrupt them by trashing the economy.'

Government doesn’t make the video games or print the magazines or produce the music that tells young people what’s important in life.

'Oh, the good old days when we could blame video nasties for everything...'

Government can’t be on every street and in every estate, instilling the values that matter.

Keep paying your taxes though, or else.

There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ – there is us.

'My children are going to a better school than yours will.'

We are all in this together, and we will mend our broken society – together.

'I'm going back on holiday'

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Alexander Hay

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