Well, isn’t that peachy? Tony Blair heralds a brave new dawn for British society:
“For the first time in my political lifetime the politicians, public and police are actually on the same side.”
What is it that has brought together the population with a unanimity that seems to have escaped every other area of Blair’s administration? Why it’s law’n’order, of course.
It seems that we’ve all consensed around the end of 60s tolerance, and an end to a British policing philosophy that, only now that it has ended, we are able to deem ‘liberal’. The future of British policing will eschew the beads and sandals approach to truncheons, opting instead for a regime that gives communities the power to “enforce respect on the streets”.
This new regime comes complete with its own new laws – ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders). And it comes with its own pseudo-science – a nineteenth century blend of back-of-envelope economics, sociology and law. You can read more of the Home Office’s intellectual wizardry (with an assist by the LSE) here.
What, though, is this anti-social behaviour? Well, it’s what “a reasonable person would consider as likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment of their home”. It’s the sort of behaviour that treats ‘street drinking’ and ‘begging’ as crimes, and conflates them under a single category. It’s the sort of behaviour that Britain’s Christian soldiers ought not to meddle in. Yes, it’s Back to Basics all over again. And it comes with the treat of suspension of trial by jury which previously had only been used in Northern Ireland.
Lord, what kind of a country does Blair think this is? America?