The atmosphere in London is uneasy, and the Met have a job on their hands to keep order as tensions rise says Jim Duffy
As you know, I am a big “The Jam” fan. How big? Well, I’m going to see Bruce Foxton’s ‘From the Jam’ at the liquid Rooms in Edinburgh soon and then going to see Paul Weller play the Hydro in Glasgow early next year. They’re an iconic band for my age group and as I sit here today listening to the words of Town Called Malice, while watching news bulletins, reading red tops and indeed spending time there - I honestly think London is heading for trouble: It’s a Town Called Malice, and the balance between order and disorder is tipping.
The polis down there - The Met - have big problems. They are skint. There is no doubt that austerity has had an impact on them. Oh yes - austerity - George Osborne’s answer to solving the national debt. Well, that does not appear to have worked, does it? Cuts to budgets have wiped out neighbourhood policing. Newly retired detectives are being lettered and asked to come back to help with the massive crime issues, coming back on enhanced payment terms! So the cost cutting is costing even more. The Met simply does not have enough skilled and experienced officers to solve crimes. Between the huge burden of keeping London safe from terrorism, alongside the marches, demos and events it has to police, the Met has to get on with its day job. But according to the red tops and news flashes, it is struggling here. Enter acid attacks.
I was thinking the other day about the worst kinds of crime that people can commit in a civilised society. Murder is of course top of the pile. But for me and no doubt you, rape and permanent disfigurement must rank as pretty brutal. Rape abhors me and makes me angry as it has terrible ramifications for the victim. I once gave a talk to some Scottish Prison governors and I showed a video where the guy doing a talk called some people in society ‘losers’. One particular Governor got all hot and bothered saying that it was wrong to call people ‘losers’. Well, I’m sorry, anyone who proactively and with intent rapes an innocent person as they walk home is a ‘loser’. Period.
So then, to throwing acid over others. This is 100 peer cent a step in the wrong direction towards that Town Called Malice. Whether it be an ex-partner who throws it over his girlfriend to teach her a lesson and say - no-one else will have you or want you; whether it is losers on mopeds filling squeeze bottles with acid and randomly targeting innocent pedestrians; or whether it is gang member on gang member, this method of injury and assault is hideous and has awful long-term consequences for victims.
Throw in the rise in knife crime along with murders caused by stabbing in London and the whole new London experiment looks like it’s about to boil over. We have not had riots in our streets for some time. But without being the professor of doom and gloom, I can feel them coming. It’s a mood, an under-current and a strong possibility.
As one travels around London on public transport, which is actually pretty awesome, one can see the lack of community cohesion and ‘every man for himself’ attitude. The whole place is all about money, wealth creation, getting up the ladder and unfortunately mugging people off where one can. The big variations in wealth between genders, wealth between communities that sit alongside each other and wealth of those way up the pyramid is evident all around. And while all of this is bubbling away, fermenting and turning the Ph paper red, the only two things that can save London are its politicians and its police force. Yes, let’s not be politically correct here, it is a force and not a service.
The politicians can set the moral barometer in the Town Called Malice. Whether it be the Prime Minister, the Mayor or others, there has never been a more critical time for leadership to make sure the UK’s capital doesn’t boil over. I now see why Jeremy Corbyn is so popular. He sees the binaries play out in front of him and he sees a solution. Paying for it is another issue.
I get Corbyn’s thinking on flipping the billions we pay on defence and aircraft carriers into services for communities. It makes perfect sense, until Putin decides to get grumpy with us. But, while paying for it all is the big political argument raging on, we have a capital city that is about to burst.
And what about the police who are on the front line right now and who are calling into radio shows anonymously and telling grim stories of cuts and how these “efficiency savings” have resulted in the thin blue line almost disappearing in some places? Tinkering with the “order” we live in and value may have repercussions in the months to come.
And Scotland needs to be careful here also. Police Scotland appears to be in a bit of turmoil at present. Amalgamating Scotland’s police forces for efficiency may come back to haunt us.
In the meantime, let’s keep an eye on London and hope that the politicians and police can come through this and ensure that the Town Called Malice doesn’t implode.