The brilliant and pseudonymous British social worker who blogs under the name “Winston Smith”—he won a major commentating prize last year called the Orwell Prize—has a stinging post this morning about the events tearing his country apart. It’s worth reading in full, but in the middle is a quote that crystallizes the reasons why Britain was so ripe for this bizarre crime spree: “This morning on Sky News, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, dismissed the option of using water cannon when she said: “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon…the way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.”
The Home Secretary is, effectively, the national chief of police. What this quote reveals is that the reason Britain has gone lawless is that the law is not actually enforced. Policing is ultimately not about “consent.” That is what the political process is for, to write the laws with the consent of the governed. The police department is to enforce those laws on behalf of the communities that might—as if happening right now—be destroyed by the failure to do so.
If May keeps her job, David Cameron will lose his.