Groupthink by Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary

Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary, has just been on breakfast TV saying praising the police for their bravery in putting themselves in harms way during the London riots, adding that she doesn’t believe they should use water cannons or the army, who are paid to put themselves in harms way. It doesn’t add up very well when people have been complaining that the police have turned up two hours after being called, and then held back firefighters from extinguishing fires in the interests of protecting their safety. The police surely have done their best, but I’m not sure that Theresa’s approach is more than political expediency. The police don’t want to escalate deterrence by even leaving open the option to have the army called in, which to the lefties would be a poor reflection on the ability of the police. Instead, it risks becoming a political lever for the police to argue for “more resources” (ahem, not resources in the sense of the army, water cannon, tear gas, or other anti-riot techniques used all the time in places like Israel). Surprising that (not).

In addition, Theresa doesn’t want to call in the army, which is busy providing security in important places like Afghanistan, because the army is stretched and it would reflect poorly on her as Home Secretary to have to bring in resources from another department. It would also de-escalate the violence (by increasing security), at the expense of escalating the “public relations” problems, with the world’s media making an issue from any announcement that the government here has had to call in the army to deal with internal troubles. The very last thing Prime Minister David Cameron wants to happen, something analogous to wearing a sign on his forehead labelled “fool”. This is probably why he has only just returned from holiday to take control. Well, he doesn’t have any control, because he has tied his hands politically by deciding what he will and won’t do. The error of all leaders is being too controlling; you need to respond to events and sometimes appeasing one group by “firm, controlling” decisions just reduces your flexibility and thus plays into the hands of others who take advantage.

“If we handle him (Hitler) right, my belief is that he will become gradually more pacific. But if we treat him as a pariah or mad dog we shall turn him finally and irrevocably into one.” – Nevile Henderson to British Government, 1939.

Nevile Henderson was the guy who advised the Prime Minister in the late 1930s that treating Nazi thugs with kid gloves will de-escalate the crisis; in fact this pacifist approach failed to deter the thugs, and it was precisely the same in 1914 when Britain’s Foreign Secretary Edward Grey watered down the message to the Kaiser and failed to make clear in advance what consequences (war) would result from the invasion of Belgium, as I have documented in detail elsewhere.

The point here is that wishful thinking and political expediency dominate decisions which allow crises to escalate until the public is so scared that more “unthinkable” options become politically acceptible, or even desirable. If the rioting does continue and the police do eventually give up, then the army or tear gas or whatever may end up being used simply because the public will accept that it is then obviously necessary, whereas they might think it “heavy-handed” to use at an earlier stage in order to deter a crisis in the first place. This goes to the heart of the trouble with the great British “innocent until proved guilty” approach to law and order, where you let laws be broken and then try to catch the perpetrators, when you are in so much debt you can’t afford enough room in the prisons to lock them up! Contrast “innocent until proved guilty” to the medical dogma “prevention is better than cure”. Obviously I mean prevention in the form of deterring crime by having the army, tear gas, water cannon, etc. continuously ready to use before things get out of control, by analogy to locking your doors rather than leaving doors unlocked and simply relying on the police to attempt to find and catch thieves after crimes have been made easy to commit. This stupidity, dressed up as “law and order”, needs to be spelled out.

We don’t leave our cars unlocked and our wallets around in the belief that “innocent until proved guilty” will ensure we are safe, because the police can track down thieves. We take some precautions in proportion to the risk, in order to try to prevent crime, e.g. locking up property and not leaving valuables around. In the event of rioting, it is logical to deploy resources to preventing crime, not merely relying on the threat of trying to find and punish criminals. Despite all the talk of “innocent until proved guilty”, we don’t in fact trust the law to prevent crime; we take some precautions. Do some people have a special “human right” to riot and destroy the lives of others, or is it just the old situation that the government doesn’t want egg on its face in the left-wing media?

Mark Duggan shooting by police

Someone is shot and before the facts are fully investigated, thugs use the controversy to riot, burn and loot. The left-wing media is keen to “suggest” that it was sparked entirely by police incompetence on the basis of preliminary tests on a bullet found in a radio. Fuel on troubled waters, the same old left-wing “free speech” incitement of hatreds. No surprise there…

Update: equality, human rights and racists

The police, as predicted above, managed to keep the rioting problem within their department, successfully using the escalation of violence night on night to argue for cancelling all police leave, reducing future police economies and redundancies, and implementing a temporary increase from 6,000 riot police in London to 16,000. Widespread rainfall also helped to reduce the number of rioters and looting. However, this very measured response is not a deterrent and is not the right policy to deter future incidents, when the debt cutbacks necessary to repair the disaster of the Gordon Brown era really start to make themselves plain to see.

The most sickening aspect was constant deference of tactics to “experts” in riot control, i.e. the very “expert” red-tape officials who allow the situation to escalate in the first place, instructing the police to (1) stand in harms way doing nothing to stop the rioters, and (2) restrain the firefighters to stop them putting out fires, instead of protecting them from rioters while they did their job. With these examples of “experts” in riot control plain for all to see, we know what their level of “expertise” is. Any criticism results in a charge that the officers are bravely standing in harms way. Well, the charge of the Light Brigade was certainly brave, but it wasn’t any actual use as a tactic. The excuse that tactics are only for “experts” to discuss is an old lying trick by politicians of the Vietnam War era who accepted “expert” advice without question and then faced an escalating disaster, and deference to “experts” was previously used by the Nazis, who declared that the public must believe Nazi-backed “expert” eugenicists. Wrong.

So what about the causes of the rioters? Some media blamed not criminality but the social cutbacks due to the debts created by Gordon Brown, although they ignore the case of the cutbacks and the need to cut the spiralling waste of taxpayers money on interest repayments by reducing the debt deficit. At the height of the riots on Tuesday, the British “expert” Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was criticised by Douglas Murray, Associate Director at the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, in the Tuesday 9 August 2011 Daily Express, page 14:

… the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) … founded in 2006, cost the taxpayer £70 million in its first year alone. Its head is paid £112,000 a year. … I see no reason whatsoever why the British taxpayer should pay him a prince’s salary to head an incompetently-run organization which has no apparent aims other than to find the British people guilty until proven guilty. …

Remember the famous story about Margaret Thatcher who on one occasion instructed a Cabinet minister to deal with a problem. A week or so later he returned announcing that he had set up a department to address it [this is the infamous time-wasting procrastination tactic that the leading Civil Service "Permanent Secretaries" compel their Cabinet ministers to use, instead of quickly sorting out any problems before they get worse, analogous to the deference to "experts" in the Vietnam War, political "ridicule" by self-proclaimed "experts" against Ronald Reagan's "ill-informed" Star Wars anti-commie propaganda in 1983, and so on]. Thatcher was not amused. “I told you to deal with the problem, not make it worse,” she shouted. “Once we have an entire government department that depends upon the existence of the problem, we’ll never get rid of it.” The point that Thatcher understood instinctively, as too few politicians do, is that once a publicly funded organization is set up to deal with a problem, it is no longer in the organization’s interests to deal with it.

Far from it. Problem and “solution” need each other. People generally want to keep their jobs, especially if they are well paid …

Last year the EHRC released a report entitled “How Fair is Britain?” Among its conclusions was: “Achievement is higher for those pupils whose first language is English when compared to pupils who have English as an additional language.” So the taxpayer paid for a report that revealed that pupils who speak English well do better in school … Surely it could have been better spent on almost anything else. Such as English lesson? … The aims of the EHRC are nowhere better demonstrated than in their highlighting of the differences in life expectancy between British-born women (80.5 years) and women of Pakistani origin (77.3 years). This was used by the EHRC last year to demonstrate “unfairness”. What it failed to draw attention to, and what Dr Davies’ report corrects, is that a far larger difference in life expectancy occurs between Pakistani women living in Britain (77.3 years) and women living in Pakistan (67.5 years). In other words, whatever your origin, Britain is good for you.

But of course this isn’t the sort of conclusion the EHRC would wish to come to because that might suggest that Britain is not after all a terrible, racist, blighted country [compared to the countries its ethnic communities originated in]. … like all such organisations, it has to keep funding coming. So it keeps the problem alive, misrepresenting problems and exaggerating them to keep the cash flowing. [Emphasis added in bold.]

If that is correct, then part of the blame for the riots would seem to be the taxpayer-funded lying reports which use falsified “statistical evidence” to allege that Britain is a racist hell-hole, just to keep some guy wasting taxpayers money while being paid £112,000 a year. I prefer not to believe it, it’s so depressing.

Update

The three days of police management of ever-escalating looting and riots were “explained” as the decision to use “protest march” policing techniques with merely increased numbers of police, when they should have treated the events as criminality requiring different techniques altogether. As predictable, nobody is responsible for ignoring the evidence over those three days, which only ended when the prime minister eventually cut short his holiday to manage the tactics. If there was anyone responsible, then the problem would not have escalated for so long, employing the wrong tactics. The previous head of the metropolitan police resigned amid allegations over police corruption (police selling stories to newspapers, and taking a soft-pedal on the mobile phone hacking scandal to get journalists off the hook). The new acting head is concerned with the risk of recession redundancies, so when the opportunity arises to show lots of police are needed to deal with riot and looting risks, the situation ends up being “inadvertently” milked for all it is worth by the media, government, police, etc. The government ministers always defer responsibility for errors to precisely the “experts” who are responsible for the errors, always a brilliant strategy for achieving a whitewash and cover-up. The “experts” simply have a field day showing their impressive skills in obfuscation and acting indignantly; if they want promotion, they are always the last people to put up their hands and admit they can possibly be wrong. By definition of the word “expert”, they can’t be wrong. Some other factor is always to blame. Of course, if they had used effective policing tactics from the beginning to prevent violence, riots and looting, then the police would be under attack from human rights lawyers for being “heavy handed”. The “innocent until proven guilty” precept implies that people have a right to do what they want until convicted for a crime; is then always too late to stop crime. Plenty of simplistic and contradictory groupthink ensures that there are always “excuses” for those in charge of fiascos.