This is our truth, tell us yours
Teresa May went to the Police Federation conference and broke the last and most persuasive of the Thatcher era bargains.
Over the last four years the government of which May is a part has been busy breaking its predecessors contracts with the working class Tories who gave Thatcherism its electoral force. The people who profited from Right to Buy and privatization, the prosperous, conservatice with a small c working class gave Thatcherism its moral force and power, and as the Cameron government has made clear its addiction to big money and big finance they have deserted the Tory party for UKIP.
The police were amongst the greatest beneficiaries of Thatcher’ largesse. In the wake of the Edmund Davis reforms to pay under Callaghan they became well paid and well protected. That has all come to a spectacular and miserable end.
I have to confess, there is nothing funnier or more old school than the sight of a Tory standing up and blaming a trade union, even a scab union like the Police Federation, for all the problems of a failing, calamitously run organization. To hear May recite the litany of grievances we all have with the police and blame them on the Police Federation was mind-boggling.
In May’s world Orgreave was not a carefully measured operation designed to hammer the miners but a wildcat action by militant police beyond the control of their officers. The Stephen Lawrence disaster for the Met was not a failure of command and control, but a subversion of the otherwise perfect system by a small band of politically motivated men, and the Special Demonstrations Squad was a Trotskyist entryist plot that senior officers knew nothing about.
Listening to May blame the Police Federation for the failings of a generation of police leadersand Home Secretaries brought to mind those idiots who blame trades unions for the failings of British Leyland. In the world of right wing propaganda the Morris Marina, possibly the worst car ever, was designed by the AUEW and the lunatic square steering wheel of the Austin Allegro was conceived via a card vote at the ASTMS annual conference.
None of this is true, of course.
British Leyland failed because it, and its predecesors, made two types of cars; cars no-one wanted and cars they couldn’t sell at a profit. The former is exemplified bythe AUstin 1800 of 1964, a car so ugly even its meagre band of fans called it the Landcrab. The Mini is a good example of the latter. It was conceived to be built down to a price; Issigonis’s design reflected that, but the price point became unattainable at a profit once heavy, awkward subframes had to be engineered into the design because the original chassis was too weak. But still, in the popular imagination, the unions are to blame for a company that was, from top to bottom, ineptly led, managed and financed.
And now, here comes Teresa May, blaming the Police Federation for the endemic corruption that runs top to bottom in Britain’s police. Not the police leadership, safe and secure in the walled gardens of privilege that are the Superintendent’s Association and ACPO. To hear May you’ll believe that the Hillsborough cover-up, orchestrated from top to bottom of the South Yorkshire Police, necessary because in an inexperienced coward in a Superintendent’s uniform mismanaged the situation at the Leppings Lane gates, was a revolutionary conspiracy from below worthy of Lenin.
It’s bollocks of course, and bollocks designed to enable the Tories to impose their will on the police, and to further privatize basic state services in the UK. And we’ll all sleep safer in our beds knowing Serco and G4S are policing our sreets won;t we?