The month of August used to be referred to as the “silly season” by journalists owing to the fact that most of the movers and shakers who affect who we are, what we are, how rich or poor we are etc etc were holidaying that month in some place that used to be called Biarritz but now is more likely to be known as Tuscany. There being no big news stories to feed the appetites of Fleet Street and its horrible hackers it had to look further afield to fill the news pages and thus retain its advertisers. And so any story however “silly” would be dressed up to fill a few column inches. Truly a condition of never mind the quality feel the width if ever there were one. The difference between these so called halcyon years and now is that there is no pretence of a silly season for even research organisations to attempt to fill our newspapers with such rubbish as to strain one`s credibility that real people are in the name of charity publishing so called results.
Policy Exchange Ltd is one such. Its “About” page includes amongst its contributors such luminaries as “General David Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency”: no mention then of his rather changed status and Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England whose role or lack of it during various banking scandals is said to have cost him the promotion to the top post at the Bank of England. Apart from these minor points it tells us it is proud to have had taken forward by government directly elected police commissioners, the pupil premium and Free Schools; policies which have not met universal approval.
A recent example of this forward thinking was reported in the London Evening Standard. It suggests the public be trained to fight crime. It does not refer to a resurrected form of the Guardian Angels, a uniformed group of vigilantes who rode the New York Subway system about twenty years ago to deter criminal activity and whose venture to provide the same service in London proved a non starter being criticised by government and police. No; this grand idea is about ordinary citizens learning how to perform a citizen’s arrest without ending up with a knife in the ribs. To quote from the report, “A YouGov poll for today’s report found that more than a third (36 per cent) of adults would be interested in attending a free evening class at a Citizen Police Academy, where police officers and volunteers would teach them about issues like how to perform a citizen’s arrest and how to avoid danger when walking home alone.” As a green belt in my forties after eight years training in Go Juru karate I would have been rather hesitant in taking on a group of anti social miscreants. I really do think that such suggestions from Policy Exchange tell us more about its politics than its grand title. Since it`s a charity I suppose those who keep it funded feel they`re getting value for money even if some of its suggestions could be exchanged for a modicum of common sense.
Courtesy of The Justice of the Peace