I've been struck more than ever these last few days at how damaged a Western society can quietly become, silently cracking and eventually exposing a whole range of social and political rifts.
This awareness is partly due to an absence of government news (maybe I should have just left that at 'government' ?) which turns the medias attention to those lesser known stories to fill the pages. Nonetheless, some of those stories tell a tale about who we are, how we behave and what prospects for change there may or may not be. I've picked a couple out to illustrate my point.
The first is about police officers 'moonlighting' to pay their way. We could say that second jobs for a whole range of occupations have been commonplace for years - even for those that are already well paid (like firefighters, for example) but there's something insidious about the concept when the police resort to it. The image of the police has taken a battering over the last decade or so and has resulted in it being now an occupation not of respect and probity but of opportunism and exploitation. That's a sweeping generalisation, of course, for mingled in amongst the less professional there are a good number of talented and worthy professionals. But the perception of the police these days is quite poor, exampled by their preparedness or not to respond to certain types of reported crime, their fixation with paperwork and their dogged pursuit of 30 or 40 year old sexual assault claims - long since beyond reasonable examination but more to do with following fashionable trends. Reduced numbers and reduced budgets all play a part and these add to the notion of a broken society where law and order is sporadic and justice something of a joke concept for many.
My second example is the news that Gerry Adams is to publish a cookery book based upon recipes that were made available during the Good Friday Peace accord negotiations. These are all allegedly 'good Sinn Fein' recipes with the acerbic barb in the preamble claiming that the British contingent never bothered to feed the Irish negotiators. To me this embraces a secondary story - that of the persistent harrying of ex-British servicemen for alleged crimes in the 'Troubles' era of Northern Ireland whilst known republican participants in atrocities remain free and prosperous. The two together are indicative of a British problem - that of wasting public money on investigations that have neither moral value nor any public support and also the co-related acceptance that former foes - possibly forgiven in some interpretation of Christian fellowship - can capitalise on their political and personal knowledge to take advantage of a British weakness. Nothing will happen, of course, for our government has priorities that are as bizarre and remote as you could find anywhere in the third world. But it underlines our warped sense of real priority in our governance and the application of the law. The crack only widens.
And lastly, old Boris is causing offence, yet again - this time saying that burka wearing women look like 'letter-boxes'. Here we are again writhing in the discomfort of a minority saying it is 'offended'. No mention, of course, of the possible 'offence' to other British citizens in the presence of such sights, but our governance, of course is very heavily weighted in favour of bending over backwards to accommodate almost every minority and vocal grouping. Whilst I think Mr Johnson's remark no more than amusing it challenges the status quo's obsession of suppressing freedom of thought, speech and comment in this country. As this blog has mentioned several times before, the obsession with politically correct ways is becoming our undoing and is causal to those widening cracks in British society that are the signs of an unhealthy and discontented populace.