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.
The Metropolitan Police seem to have control of the London streets in 3 days as opposed to LA’s 4 days!! What does that prove? Are you really calling for more armed police on the streets? Is your answer to this type of situation just beat the shit out of them and that’s your problem solved? Is there not something about how can you respect a society that doesn’t respect you? Read my comments here: http://radicalglasgowblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/and-boris-set-fire-to-toilets.html
I don’t respect people who loot and burn small businesses. Yes, they’re the pissed-on Droog underclass, but that doesn’t excuse their opportunistic violence The root causes are poverty and discrimination, but I don’t give them free passes because of it, just like I didn’t when Reginald Denny was pulled out of his truck and beaten senseless during the LA riots.
A harbinger of what is to come here, soon.
Nobody is condoning violence but more “robust” policing is always the only answer put forward, put the lid on the boiling pot and it will explode.
The scale of this surprised everyone. Even London Indymedia is trying to figure out what it means.
My point was more that if a London looter sees police coming, he might not leave. In L.A., he probably would.
And I agree with Ten Bears.
I would rather have looting and try to resolve the problems than shout for a more armed and “robust” police force. An armed and “robust” police force are always on call for the state in all other matters, they don’t disband after the looting. I think your medicine is worse that the disease. If society is fu**ed, giving the state the power to control it with guns on the street is a very dangerous road to go down.