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Tuesday 9 August 2011

Dave’s Total Recall

As the rioting kicked off, it became clear that the most senior members of the Government were not in town: this enabled “Shagger” Prescott (“traditional misbehaviour in a modern setting”) to go on Sunday morning’s Marr show and make routine capital out of their absence. But as events have continued, both on the streets and in the markets, common sense has prevailed.

So today not only is Young Dave back from his jolly good hols, he has been joined by fellow good chap Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who went walkabout in the Clapham Junction area where he was greeted with a mixture of scepticism and forthright derision. One hates to predict next year’s mayoral race too soon, but Bozza did not do his campaign chances any good today.

But most significantly, Cameron made the decision to recall Parliament, this event being slated for Thursday. On the face of it, this at least looks like someone has managed to make a decision, but what purpose will it serve? The Cobra emergency committee has already met, Police leave has been canned, far more officers will be available for duty, and bringing in the army has been sensibly declined.

Operational decisions, such as the imposition of curfews or the issuing of plastic baton rounds, do not need Parliamentary approval, and nor does the bringing of those arrested before the courts. The decisions on whether to go ahead with football matches – five have already been called off, including the England v Netherlands friendly tomorrow – can also be independently made.

So what use will a recalled Parliament be, other than to make sure that all MPs have to suffer the same interruption to their summer breaks as Young Dave? There will be an opportunity for ritual condemnation of wrongdoing. Cameron will no doubt make an opening statement. There will be an opposition response. Back benchers will try to catch Mr Speaker’s eye and chip in. All will then adjourn.

But, unless there is to be some kind of legislative response – doubtful – then the recall appears an overreaction, and that on top of making the error of not reacting at all at the outset. This has been a big test for Young Dave and his jolly good pal Bozza, and thus far they have not exactly covered themselves in glory.

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