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?
Yes, we have a careless Tory government (what's new?), headed by a prime minister who sends for his personal tennis coach to be flown out to Tuscany while London riots. Yes, there is a lot of tension on the streets as the under-classes feel the pinch of cutbacks in education allowances, high inflation and no prospect of work thanks to Osborne taking an economy growing at a fast 1.1% per quarter at the election and hammering it wilfully into the ground.
It still does not add up to a burning capital city, unless you throw in a third toxic element - and that is the Met. They've handled it astonishingly badly, they failed to call for swift assistance from outside police forces, they've messed up at every turn.
The chattering classes are now nodding and saying "well they won't cut 2000 officers from the Met now, will they?".
Leave aside whether you agree or disagree with the cuts to the police force (I think the cuts are a bad idea).
The serious issue is that the police have won their "protest" with their rather unusual strike, where they've worked to rule and watched from the sidelines rather than taking full control of the situation. And at what a terrible cost. I shudder to think they'll feel emboldened to do it again - holding both communities and governments to hostage, because they've discovered they have the power to let the capital burn by simply doing nothing.
The weak Tory leadership and their clown Clegg deputy haven't helped either.
This would not have happened under either Tone or Gord. Tone's antennae would have been twitching on day 1 and he'd have been putting tremendous pressure on all concerned to get a grip. John Prescott would have done his deputy job and been all over the airwaves telling the rioters off (or as someone on twitter put it "I can't help but wonder that if John Prescott was in charge he would be out on the streets punching the hoodie feckers himself"). And in Gord's era, the chief of the Met would have been woken up at 4 a.m. to ensure he was up in time to do his job properly, and he might have been encouraged with a bit of shouting.
The Met wouldn't have dared to allow things to get this out-of-control under the Labour government.
But no one is in the least bit in awe of Cameron, not the rioters, and not the police. So London burns.