THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Shame on us all

Rachel from north London: Shame on you.

Look at the face of the police officer in the film as he casually slaps a young woman in the face with the back of his hand. Have you seen such an expression before? The casual, confident thuggery? The absolute sense of entitlement? It can be seen all the time on the faces of government officials, spokesmen for the "causes" supported by the government, people from the protected groups which constitute the new aristocracies of New Labour's New Britain. It's the shameless look on the face of Sharon Shoesmith, the woman who perhaps best represents New Labour's New Woman, just as Damian McBride and his control freak boss perhaps best represent New Labour's New Man. It is a look that can now even be seen on the faces of non-government busybodies "empowered" by New Labour's culture of continual, personal interference.


The faces of the new men

A fish rots from the head. New Labour has been in charge of "our" public servants for more than a decade. It is they who have put the inverted commas around the word "our." In my working life, I have observed how people naturally, albeit subconsciously, copy their leaders. Leadership carries power, but also responsibility, which is why there must always be morality at the heart of its exercise. Lying, spinning, smearing brazen thuggery has been the way in which our country has been run for so long that many public servants now know no other way. Some will fall naturally into line when and if a new style of government arrives. They will be the weakest and/or the most cynical ones. But it will take sustained, strong, moral leadership - and not a few tough examples set - to bring those like the police man in the movie back into the fold of decency.

Prodicus summed it up yesterday with a sporting metaphor - "They only go for the man, never the ball". He makes a fair point well, but too mildly. Rachel says "shame on you" and she's right, but not completely so. The real shame is on us, whether we became the people with the cold dead eyes, or whether we submitted to them. The message needs to be delivered by each of us - not just to this government but to all future ones - that there are limits, ethical limits, to what government is entitled to do and say. Without those limits to naked power, the cold, dead look in that policeman's eyes will be the fate of us all.


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Steve Tierney

I really want to agree with you all. But I don't think I do.

Surly protesters shouting and swearing at the police? The cops vastly outnumbered and tasked with the impossible... to keep order among people who want to create a spectacle? How was that NOT going to end up like this?

Anybody who's been in that situation would know that if you don't control the scene quickly and certainly, it can go very bad very quickly.

The woman who gets slapped continually gets in the policeman's face, is aggressive and unwilling to respond to instruction. The slap keeps her away, but there's nothing "martial" about it. Nor is there anything "martial" about the pose the policeman strikes after it. Whoever suggested that clearly knows nothing about martial arts. Looks more like nervous tension to me, which I think I'd feel too in his shoes.

The woman is unhurt by the slap, demonstrated by her continued aggression without injury. Given that he's a big man with a huge glove, that should tell you something about the 'strength' he put behind it. Not much.

The strike to the leg is startling, I'll give you that. But the scene was volatile. Another guy was getting violent
off to the side. People were shouting very aggressively like they were trying to psych up an attack on the police. That blow may have prevented the situation spinning out of control. Of course we'll never know.

It's very easy to take a pop at the police. I hate what Labour has done to our liberty and I hate the effect its had on the Met. But the frenzied tone of this blog and its comments seem to lack any appreciation of just how dangerous a situation like that can become and how much responsibility 'protesters' have when they behave in a certain way.

Now the other one... where the guy gets attacked from behind... is a completely different story.


As a lawyer and a citizen, I can only agree. New Labour has discredited both politics and law. Laws work best when they reflect common morality, just as policing works best if it has general public support. New Labour has used the law as a tool of social engineering - trying to lead behaviour, so that few but the most priggish of us can easily pass a law-abiding day. I discussed this in the early days of New Labour with an elderly Polish acquaintance whose late husband had been an academic much-monitored by the secret police in Communist Poland. He had once told her that part of the apparatus of totalitarian control was that virtually everything was illegal, so that the rule of law was replaced by the authorities leaving you alone if you behaved, but always being able to convict you (or extort a bribe) if you annoyed them. Sound familiar? That police man is too young to remember any other style of policing. He is a public servant bred in an atmosphere of contempt for his masters. I feel sorry for him - and for thousands of decent coppers feeling moved to defend the indefensible because they can feel the public support their everyday work deserves slipping away. They should not have taken quite so enthusiastically to all the additional powers granted them by Labour. The memories of their leaders with sociology degrees and Labour mates asking for greater powers of detention will not readily fade.

It is a sad, depressing image of modern society, however, it's worth pointing out we had more aggressive coppers 20 years ago. Particularly bad in the 80's.

The quarrel is with the lawmakers not the mob.

At least the leaders had a bit more savvy in the 80's, and the major problem these days in the lawbooks which are much less fairer than the copper we see here!

Twisted Root

In his own mind that deluded copper has just carried out a martial arts manouevre using gloves that give him 'special' attributes. The disconnect from reality, evident from his every pose and gesture, is truly frightening. Witness the pose he strikes after carrying out his thuggish attack on a woman, standing Bruce Lee style to repel multiple attackers with deft blows. You have just seen the future and it looks like a video game.


Please tell me that's not real. Everything about this video is so depressing, from the sado-masochistic bike leathers to the ridiculous karate moves you can just tell he practices for hours hoping to be able to test them out on someone smaller than him.


Fuck me that's not funny.

Barnsley Bill

Great, that cured my homesickness with a simple off the cuff slap to the face and a swipe to the legs with a billy club. What have you people done to my country?

Old Holborn

I saw a lot worse wth my own eyes at the G20.

Obnoxio The Clown

It makes me feel ill to watch that.

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