And Dying Thus Around Us Every Day
Sir Robert Peel, father of British policing and architect of the Conservative Party, has two compelling reasons to be spinning in his grave as he observes the state of his legacy. It is difficult to say which part of it is in a sorrier state: a Conservative Party which has enthusiastically embraced the social policies of Communist China, or a police force in which officers derive their amusement from rape and infanticide.
The two-hundred-year history of the Metropolitan Police Force (or Service, as we must now call it) is worth understanding, if only to see what has gone so terribly wrong. Unlike the police in most European counties, the British police have never been armed to the teeth or worn quasi-military uniforms or marched up to us and demanded to see our papers. The principle has always been that the state must identify and justify itself to the citizen, not the other way round. The police have simply been citizens tasked with keeping the peace, and with deterring and detecting crime. They seem to have abandoned these roles in favour of a string of unproductive and, one might have thought, mutually incompatible activities, from harassing people on Twitter and acting as the paramilitary wing of the Guardian to strip-searching innocent citizens and making jokes about raping them.
The nadir of pandemic policing was, of course, the Sarah Everard case, in which a young woman was raped and murdered by a serving police officer, whose vile character had long been clear to everyone who worked with him. His nickname, for heaven’s sake, was “The Rapist”. This is not an amusing soubriquet, lightheartedly bestowed on a popular co-worker. This is a clear sign that you belong behind bars. When other women decided to hold a vigil for Sarah Everard, other police officers decided to attack them, a shameful piece of brutality for which, predictably, they blamed the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic was also apparently to blame for every other idiotic thing the police have done over the past two years, from sending drones to hunt down walkers on remote moors to rifling through the baskets of bemused supermarket shoppers to see if there was anything good in there.
At this point, anyone using the phrase “a few bad apples” deserves to be pelted with a great many bad apples. It is quite clear that the police culture of this country is, to coin a phrase, rotten to the core. In any case, the point of the various proverbs about bad apples is not “a few bad apples make no difference”. It is precisely the reverse. If we follow the science, to use a phrase of which you have probably become very sick indeed, we discover that rotting apples produce ethylene, which quickly spreads the contagion to other apples nearby. This is why a few bad apples really can spoil the barrel. Besides, are the bad apples really so few? Think of the number of police officers who must have been on duty in and around the government offices where cabinet ministers and civil servants were dancing on the tables singing “I did it Maggie’s way” or playing “pin the Johnson on the Hancock”. If they were really looking so hard for rulebreakers to arrest, the police officers guarding these events must have possessed approximately the forensic abilities of a piece of rotting fruit.
The police are corrupt. The government is corrupt. The opposition is corrupt. Parliament is corrupt. The print and broadcast media are corrupt. The medical and scientific establishment is corrupt. I cannot think of a single public institution in which I have any faith at all. Until fairly recently, I believed that the courts were not corrupt, but their refusal even to hear Simon Dolan’s case against the most extreme and dictatorial policy this country has ever seen is clear proof of their grotesque corruption.
The truth is almost too shocking to contemplate. When faced with a public health emergency, those tasked with running the country did not think for a moment about how they might act in the public interest to protect the vulnerable. They already had a scientifically rigorous plan, carefully worked out over many years, which would have done that. Instead, they jettisoned this plan immediately and concentrated exclusively on two objectives: profiteering and totalitarianism.
Let this sink in for a moment. Men and women who were already among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, and who had been accorded the distinction of public office for the purpose of serving their fellow citizens used the opportunity provided by a new virus to plunder the public exchequer and steal our ancient liberty. In the process, they murdered many people, and used the vilest propaganda ever seen in Britain to terrify many more into compliance, as well as breaking friendships and estranging families. They forced millions into miserable isolation, leaving them far less able to combat any illness than they would have been without state interference. They must be very relieved indeed that the media is focusing on wine and cake.
Lockdown is not and never has been a public health policy. There is no evidence that it has saved a single life. Why should it have done, when it was never designed to do so? Be angry, then about the elderly and the infirm who have died of untreated illnesses because greedy politicians wanted more money and more power. Be angry about the stolen childhood and ruined education that will scar a generation. But be even angrier about the people of all ages who have been robbed of life or sanity by the sheer vicious cruelty of the cake-scoffers and wine-guzzlers. Like so many others, I know people and the relatives of people who killed themselves in despair during the lockdown, and others who are and may forever remain shadows of their former selves. On Christmas Eve 2020, I looked up the guidance on the NHS website for people who were suicidal. It was three years old and suggested spending time with family and friends. What was this? Gross incompetence? Complete indifference to the mental health of a suffering nation? A very sick joke? Who knows.
The solution to this rot does not lie with politicians or institutions. If there is any solution at all, it lies with the people. Boris Johnson has not improved his behaviour recently because he is a nice man or because he has seen the light. He has improved because he is weak and frightened, and has not much alternative but to do what he is told or resign. I, for one, would rather like to keep him where he is for the moment. When I look around the world at what governments are doing to their people, the notion of a weak, frightened Prime Minister is quite appealing. People, as the masked man said, should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.
If you ever thought that the people who run the institutions of Britain were decent human beings, bred and educated in a tradition of public service, and therefore ready to serve their country without thought of personal gain, the last two years should have disabused you of this notion altogether. The politicians and television presenters and civil servants and all the rest of what is commonly accepted as the top crust of humanity are rotten people, without integrity or decency. They are incapable of leading, and must be told what to do by their betters. The people who died during the lockdown because they were sympathetic and humane, and needed the warmth of human contact for their lives to be worth living, these people stood head and shoulders above the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the BBC and the rest of them. They were worth saving, unlike the privileged rats and cockroaches who infest the Palace of Westminster. They were too good for the kleptocracy or the kakistocracy. But they are dead now… Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, right reverends and wrong reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.