The British government was politically paralyzed by the crisis and needed three days and a Cabinet meeting to begin to organize an effective anti-riot strategy, distribute proper equipment, summon additional manpower, change police ROE and marshal a rhetorical narrative against the rioters. All the hallmarks of excessive top-down control by out of touch technocrats and politicians.
Worse, Zenpundit continues, the dithering, initial disinterest, and lack of a coherent response by the British government shows them to be primarily interested in defending the elites. They apparently don’t much care if shops get looted as long as they aren’t in the elite areas – or until their political careers are threatened.
Quoting from John Robb (emphasis added)
The lesson here is that during an extreme disaster, the people you may most need to fear are those in charge, particularly if their motives are focused on protecting elite interests put at risk by the disaster. Rebecca has a caution for governments that don’t align their actions with those of the people: history shows that disasters can serve as the trigger for revolutions if handled with bad intent.
Further, it really does seem the UK police are inept. For all their militaristic strutting around, London Metro was clearly not up to the task. I lived in L.A. for years, including during the 1992 riots, and while LAPD is notorious for uncalled-for violence, I also don’t think they would have let things get this out of control. Just them being on the street heavily armed and knowing they might shoot first and ask questions later would back off looters. (Yes, there were a few instances early in the LA riot when they stood around and watched looting, but by day three, they mostly had control of the streets and by day four it was over and the National Guard had armored vehicles on the streets.)
In Britain, senior ministers continued on holiday while London was burning, finally returning home after public opinion forced them too. And still they dithered and seemed disinterested.
Of course, Dubya did the same with Hurricane Katrina.