Sunday, 12 December 2010

Mobs and cops


As the carriage made its way along the highway the royal couple within were subject to repeated insults. Ugly faces pushed through the windows, spitting on the prince and tearing the dress of his wife. The mood within was one of fear, shock that there was so much violence and brutishness in the world, shown at its worst in the nation’s capital. Here the obscenities and the abuse issued freely. It was only with difficulty that the escort kept the foul mob at bay.

No, it’s not what you are thinking. This is not London and the people in question are not the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. They are Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette returning from Varennes in the summer of 1791, the furthest point they reached in trying to escape from the excesses of the French Revolution. But when I saw the look of fear on the Duchess’s face as the royal car was attacked last Thursday by those brutish ‘students’ it occurred to me that this must have been the same expression that appeared on the face of the divine Marie Antoinette all those years ago.



Who would have believed that our capital could have been desecrated in this fashion; who would have believed that a loathsome mob could have attacked the future King of England and his wife; who could believe that a British citizen could have swung on the flag on the cenotaph, the nation’s most sacred symbol, like an ape, or another urinate on the statue of Sir Winston Churchill, the nation’s greatest wartime leader? We must have gone back in time and imported the sans-culottes of 1791, stinking, animal-like, corrupting the air with their rotten halitosis. They’re still at work, this Varennes mob, on the Guardian comments website, posting remarks like “fuck Churchill” and describing the attack on Charles and Camilla as “hilarious.”

I have a busy life. I try to keep up with the news, though it’s not always possible. So, I have a question about quite an important item that I’ve clearly missed. Can anyone tell me, please, when the Metropolitan Police were replaced by the Keystone Cops? To lose control in one riot may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose control in both looks like carelessness. No, Lady Bracknell is far too mild: it looks like utter incompetence, like comic stupidity, if only the possible consequences were not so serious.

Sir Paul Stephenson, Keystone Cop-in-chief, sorry, make that Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, says that the protection officers, some of whom were armed, showed “enormous restraint and good judgement.” We now know that one of the beasts leaned through an open window and stabbed the sixty-three year old Duchess with a stick.

What if it had been a knife? How did these officers know that it was only a stick? What, exactly, are the circumstances in which they would draw arms if not this? Are they so afraid of the political fall-out that they are effectively numbed into inaction? Just imagine what would happen if an American President had been attacked in this fashion. The individual in question would have been shot dead even before he managed to poke his stick, of that I have not the least doubt. With a clot like Stephenson in charge of royal security, of the security of visiting heads of state, personal incompetence has turned into national embarrassment.

Every bullet which leaves the barrel of a police pistol now is my bullet. If one calls this murder, then I have murdered: I ordered all this. I back it up. I assume the responsibility, and I am not afraid to do so.

You may recognise this quote; if not these are the words of Herman Goering, a statement issued shortly after he became Prussian Minster of the Interior in 1933. I suppose the Stephenson version would be that every bullet that does not leave the barrel of a police pistol is a sign of his ‘remarkable restraint.’ I hope we are better prepared to deal with rabid mobs, ‘students’ or whoever they are, in the difficult times ahead. With a man like this in charge I’m not at all confident.

28 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You must, then, be the only patriot in England! You are certainly the only person I’ve come across who suggests that this was an attempted assassination, a view I do not entertain for a second. Yes, I know about the planned anarchist action against the coming royal wedding, another internet bubble.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Water cannon for Parliament Square, and "His" and "Hers" gun turrets for the Royal Roller would have sorted it.

    Simples!
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. London mobs are a time-honoured staple of English political history - I'm glad to see the tradition continue, however etiolated and insipid today's version may be. I do regret their current cause is so selfish and trivial, and their rude intrusion upon the tranquility PoW and his Duchess was pathetically misdirected and irrelevant to their 'grievance.'

    I'm pleased, however, that the deep incompetence of today's police must finally be becoming evident to even those most pampered and protected souls who have long considered themselves to be immune to the risks and inconvenience of unchecked criminality that decades of wrong-thinking on social order has allowed to proliferate. I have long thought that only exposure to the unpleasantness the rest of us experience will change the thinking of the liberal chatterati.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just wonder to what extent this is an unrepresentative rabble and to what extent the social fabric is at risk. I suspect that in countries that are struggling financially, there may well be widespead social disorder. I have a vague recollection of the film La nuit de Varennes: the red cloak of the King was being protected and there was a lovely speech about the cloak being what loyal royalists saw and respected, not the man. That kind of respect scarcely exists today - for anything.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The security detachment were a total failure in protecting Prince charles and Camilla despite these two being indirectly responsible for the death of Princess Diana . There should be no protest or disruption of the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. William is a nobel person and they should be given the respect and opportunity that they deserve.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Adam, it was hooliganism, nothing more, and hooligans never consider consequences. The suggestion that an group of Real IRA operatives my have been in Regent Street on the off chance that Camilla and Charles would pass is, well, vaguely ludicrous. I am not 'people' and I will use any term I see fit, whether you approve or not. An internet bubble is my own my expression for a flash mob, which rises quickly and disperses just as quickly. In past days anarchist groups would have had to attract support by tiresome meetings that nobody attended and leaflets that nobody read. Now they can just announce 'events' online that will attract all sorts of weird beards.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Calvin, in the eighteenth century we had Church and King mobs. Now we have the Ass and Moron. :-))

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mark, that's sadly true. I shall, I feel, eventually take refuge in America, the last bastion of true Anglo-Saxon political and philosophical values.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anthony, thank you so much for your sentiments here. They are truly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yes, anyone could have been there, that's true, even an assassin. The police behaved with remarkable lack of foresight. Thankfully there was no assassin. It wasn't an organised act of violence either because the mob came across the car by chance, not design. I doubt these types even have enough intellect to be revolutionaries. It's all about bovver.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ana, it's sad that you feel that way - your departure would certainly be England's loss. We need people with backbone and principles, and if they are articulate and intelligent with it so much the better!

    (Although I quite sympathise, and am not entirely immune to such feelings and thoughts myself; and indeed I have English friends who, having come to that conclusion, for various reasons, have upped sticks to the States); but above all it is sad that it has come to this.

    And the self-indulgence of the "demonstrators" notwithstanding, I am thoroughly fed up with whining about how "inhumane" the practice of "kettling" is. While I certainly think it is less than ideal (and I feel wholeheartedly for people unconnected with the demonstrations who get caught up and inconvenienced as a result), it appears to be an extraordinarily - typically, excessively, humane way of dealing with a crowd of disorder in which a malelovent, wrecking element are clearly a leading force.

    (As far as I know this tactic has only been used against demonstrations that have either not obtained authorisation to proceed, or which, de facto or de jure, have a large anarchist element among them). Frankly they should stop whining and be thankful that watercannon or tear-gas wasn't used against them.

    And then Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (not sure of the exact title, that is how the Guardian describe him) is on the record as saying "it is crucial that police do not appear to be `an arm of the state'".

    While I take his point (that Britain has a different, less top-down, approach to policing than, say, France), this statement still strikes me as being beyond the parody of the political correct policeforce of PC Neasden that we meet in Private Eye. None of this nonsense arose during the 1984/5 miners strike; the current government need to be as tough in backing up (and presenting - something else they are failing on) their policies as Thatcher was then.

    The country has clearly gone mad through decadance. The sickness is a lot deeper than that induced by 13 foul years of New Labour.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Adam, I'm sure it will be illuminating. I've always believed that revolutionaries saw themselves working towards some desirable end, even if the immediate future was only one of violence. For these people violence is an end in itself. Nazis, communists, anarchists; there is no difference.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dominic, my sincere thanks. You are a decent, wonderful human being. I wish there were a lot more like you.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I would, Adam, have no fear of that. :-) And by sheer coincidence I'm about to say something about a virtuous daughter. Thank you for your kind words.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I don't think that was a look of fear, I think it was a look of disgust. I think it's disgusting that you would treat anybody like this, or that you would piss on a symbol of your nation as sacred and proud as the statue of Churchill, a symbol instantly recognizable anywhere in the world.

    Honestly, I think they should leave, they should leave England, they clearly do not love it enough to stay. They're lucky to be alive after acting like this. Maybe for another European country, maybe for a third-world country, anywhere that will take them really. America wouldn't, and it's good that we wouldn't because they wouldn't survive here. They'd die.

    ReplyDelete