Well. After a few days of headless-chicken coppering in the new corona state, constabularies around the country have taken a momentous step. They’re actually going to read the 350-page Coronavirus Act in order to understand exactly what the law says. Or at least their Legal Directors are.
It beggars belief that they weren’t all over it from the off, but this is what happens when proper scrutiny gets dropped at the highest levels. Everybody throws down their pens and just goes with the flow. Like all the other dead fish.
Hard to comprehend that they’d embark on tackling a social emergency by discarding the text in favour of the study notes, but I suppose if it worked for them with the English GCSE coursework, why not continue to give it a punt? Unless of course they all just looked the other way when Whitehall came-a-calling?
Oh dear, that sounds like appalling cynicism, so let’s stick with the short-cut theory – for now at least.
So, in police circles, the rank-and-file were left to huddle around the TV with their coffee and Krispy Kremes to soak up every bead of sweat from the Boris broadcast. As quick as you can say ‘immediate effect’, they popped on their utility belts, and with a complimentary Easter chocolate baton from the Sarge (essential issue only) they Starskeyed over their bonnets and headed out to the parks and country footpaths to administer justice on the manor.
Now, after roadblocks, flying drones, dyed-black lagoons, and a tipped-over barbecue have failed to garner substantial approval from the general public, a big satellite-dish-sized penny has dropped. They’ve tasered themselves in the foot.
A shout-out though to the truly pragmatic Old Bill who have maintained a questioning and educational strategy in order to inform and encourage the populace to be sensible (whatever that actually means). They’ll achieve results and maintain support in the best traditions of policing by consent.
As an aside, you might argue that our consent to some of this stuff will intimately amount only to the loss of rights in a bloodless coup, but that’s an investigation into ironic tragedy (or comedy) that will need to wait for another day.
To get to the heart of the current confusion, we have to be clear that Boris’s wishes are not necessarily the law and nor is Government guidance. The law is the law. The whole damned shooting match has been chucked together very hastily, and we could all spend endless hours picking apart terms like essential and reasonable and applying our layman’s legalese to situations and scenarios.
But back to the more conspiratorial of outlooks. What if it’s all a distraction? What we indisputably have is this uneasy tandem of the law, and the magical thinking that mainstream media refer to as ‘the rules’. But the discombobulation that many of us are experiencing is perhaps not accidental. It could be a deliberate propagation of fake news in order to exert more power than can legally be supported.
Whatever is actually going down, such a move is indeed an insidious element of every police state, and it engenders not only compliance but also reciprocal control of citizens by each other.
Yesterday in the fruit and veg emporium, I had to place my veggies onto the counter and take a step back 2 metres behind the line. In the new corona world, everybody’s an official. Everybody can categorise, order and control.
So maybe the government has dressed its guidance up as the rules so that the majority who are daunted by a 350-page technical document will conflate their guidance with our legal obligations? And thereby, the government might have power-grabbed more excessively than you would every have imagined, with almost no resistance, and at breakneck speed.
All the confusion might just be serving to keep the dissenters occupied while the majority settle into the new regime.
Just take a step back yourself and look how far we’ve come.
We’ve all just endured 3.5 years of near-strangulation of a democratic vote by insisting on the endless scrutiny of parliament, not to mention numerous legal actions, ostensibly to avoid crippling our economy and the removal of our freedoms.
Yet we’ve now passed a 350-page bill in less than a week that means we have to answer to police if we want to step outside our front doors, and we have a gralloched economy waiting for us just around the corner. Without so much as even a vote in The Commons.
Yes, something needed to be done about the coronavirus. But not anything and not by any means.
While social media goes into meltdown about incompetence, they’re arguably missing the point. It might actually be very clever.
We now need to be cleverer still.unsplash-logoGiu Vicente