One side-effect of the riots seems to be a resumption of politics as normal. Or at least, in some reas, the opening up of clear blue water between the Tories and other leading politicians.
And whilst i know i am the eternal optimist, i do wonder if this week may not mark a serious long-term reverse for Toryism. I’ve written already to say its far too early to be drawing conclusions and therefore much, much too early to be advocating the spend of large sums of money on solutions that may prove to be entirely wrong-headed.
(And i’d say about the same to the Labour kneejerkers currently claiming this “proves” we need more police and not to cut the police budgets as much as to Tory backwoodsmen).
Still, what is happening right now is that in their mad scramble to get to the front of the reaction, the Tories are throwing caution to the winds and coming out with a series of proposals that are both dafter and dafter and simultaneously more and more vicious.
Six months in prison for stealing £3.50 of water. Certainly. Evistion of council tenants if one of their household is even ACCUSED of taking part in disturbance. No bail for most defendants.
Oh. Let’s not forget water cannon and rubber bullets.
The last two possibly highlight the problem better than the first. But its the same problem. Cameron’s conversion to these tactics sounds tough: but its not. Its just stupid – and the police, who ought to know, were swift to point out, politely, that the Prime Minister was indeed talking nonsense.
Ditto the rest of the toughness. Earlier this week, Tory MP David Davis (no, not the leadership contender, but the loony from Monmouth) was let off the leash. To hear him speak, you’d imagine he’d crossed the House and was now sat on the Opposition benches as an EDL representative. Pure, unmitigated viciousness.
Dressed, of course, in the usual language about respect and rule of law and dealing with a society gone soft on crime.
I think this will come back to haunt the Tories. Evicting whole families in response to individual failings is barbaric. And whilst the nation seems united in collective anger, that is a facade. Behind the scenes, the essentially liberal British character is temporarily stunned, but nonetheless collecting its wits: waking to what is being proposed.
This week is about the reactionary backlash: next week and the weeks thereafter will be about the liberal backlash. And every stupid, barbaric, reactionary idea put forward by the Tories now is likely to come back to haunt them, in terms of further social disorder, legal challenge, and trashed reputation.
Bizarrely, this may yet turn out to be a very good week for Liberal Britain.