There is an excellent column in today’s Times written by Daniel Finklestein. The subject is basically “the cause of the riots 2 years ago”. The conclusion – and this is why I found the column to be excellent – is that we still just don’t know and we really do need to know.
It is good to read about uncertainty. It is a state of mind that leaves one open to new ideas, that encourages people to make experiments (knowing that some will fail) and stops people becoming jobsworths or unable/unwilling to admit to any sort of failure.
Highlighted, and rightly so, is the inability of the police to accept any blame for their part in the appalling relations between them and the black populations in places such as Tottenham. What is so very dangerous is that we see trust between the public and the police at an all time low and that is bad for everyone.
This whole business of refusing to face up to making a mistake is somewhat on my mind at the moment (especially as an event which is of no great importance recently reminded me of one of the worst mistakes that I made during a lifetime of getting things wrong). It is at the back of the problem I have been having trying to get some sense out of either the elected representatives to or the officers of the South Hams District Council over the matter of a mistake that someone has made which has resulted in the problems I outlines in earlier recent blogs. I had assumed that having had this mistake brought to the notice of “the powers that be” the reaction would have been, “Oh, right, well what can we do to put matters right”. Not a bit of it. Rather like the police in the various matters we all think about at the moment (Hillsborough, Mark Duggan, Plebgate and so on) one hits a blank wall and the conversations go round and round pointlessly (in the hope, no doubt, that I will just give up).
If I give up about the matter of the signs on the car park ticket machines giving false information nobody will be injured or will die. If we, collectively, give up on the things that caused the riots two years ago then it is probable that some will be injured and possible that more will die. Certainly we shall be creating a society in which I, for one, would not wish to live.
This is not just about the police. There are many factors to take into consideration and the one that I think is most important is to find things for the young, of both sexes and all backgrounds, to do which enables them to hold their heads high and take some pride in themselves and their communities. Better to pay more for the care of our infrastructure and of our elderly and vulnerable than to pay to keep people out of work.