The 13 Labour years look remarkably peaceful as well as prosperous now, don't they? How have the Tories lost control so quickly?
Some part of the responsibility must be down to Boris Johnson, who seems to spend more time guzzling and having affairs, than running the capital. It's a massive contrast to the way Ken Livingstone ran things. Trafalgar Square was a mess in 1999, but he cleaned it up and reclaimed it for ordinary Londoners pretty quickly. The Met was given more funds and hired more police, and managed to handle really large demonstrations like the one million Iraq war marchers and the Countryside marchers, without problem. Nobody dared to go awol under Ken's watch, because he had a grip on what was going on at the Met and in his capital.
So what has changed?
When the first student protest got violent, the feeling was that the Met had been caught off guard - they simply didn't have enough police on hand to deal with it. But now it's the fourth protest, and they still haven't got a grip. Have they cut their budget so much they can't afford the overtime for extra officers? Are the police deliberately holding back in order to make a protest of their own? Who thought it was a great idea to drive Charles and Camilla through the middle of the riot? And with the light on in the car, so the students protesting about unaffordable fees could get a really good look at all the diamonds and emeralds Camilla was wearing, Marie-Antoinette style. Given that the instinct of the ordinary Brit is to steer out of troubled areas, only someone in the police feeling malicious would have decided to drive the royals right into the riot.
And what about this juxtaposition: on the 7th December, Ken Clarke announces that short-term prison doesn't work, but three days later Cameron declares that the "full force of the law" is to be applied to the rioters! Is this another U-turn for him on his law and order policy, or is he just venting for the cameras? And there's also the juxtaposition of Cameron being a violent member of the Bullingdon club in his student days, criticising other violent students. You really couldn't make this up.
P.S. For those interested in the protests against Topshop and others for tax avoidance, please visit the following blog by someone called George, called Boycott Big Business, which gives a detailed look at why these companies are being targetted.
I'd like to point out that the Inland revenue benefits from these protests. It works like this: Say you have £20 to spend on a top, and decide to boycott TopShop and spend your money at John Lewis instead. Because the £20 gets spent regardless, the effect on the economy is neutral. However, because John lewis pays all it's taxes, the Treasury experiences an increase in tax revenue. Employment at TopShop may go down, but employment at john lewis should go up, so the effect on employment is neutral too. And best of all, other retailers may hastily decide to get their affairs in order so that they are not targeted, which also leads to an increase in tax revenue. It's win-win-win, as we then don't haemorrhage tax money to the less scupulous parasite states.