It’s easy to look at the crowded beaches, the gridlocked roads, intolerant day trippers dumping tonnes of litter, mass disobedience of lockdown rules, outbreaks of fighting and worse, the abuse being meted out to volunteers, council workers, and yes, even the emergency services, and conclude that some people are using a little fine weather to not only let off steam, but behave badly as well. And conclude that it’s a passing phase.
That matters. It matters because whatever the Government does now to tell those millions to behave themselves is going to fall on deaf ears. If they don’t fancy behaving themselves, they won’t. The Polecat got away with it. They can do the same.
What’s alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson going to do about it? Ten years of cuts to Police numbers means that if enough pissed off Brits kick off at once, the cops won’t be able to cope. This week’s crowded beaches have shown that. Cops ask folks to move on? Nah, don’t fancy it mate, shove off. What’re you going to do about it?
So now the public know they can get away with breaking the law if enough of them do it. Right ahead of a series of events that will show Bozo and his pals that the genie they have let out of the bottle - through their own ineptitude - is not going back any time soon.
On the 4th of July - a Saturday in high summer - pubs will be able to reopen. Many are not doing; they want to be able to keep themselves and their customers safe. But the Spoons chain will be. A warm day, lots of cheap alcohol sloshing about, early opening, long session, the first for months - what could possibly go wrong?
By mid-afternoon, the cops won’t be able to cope with any more than the odd disturbance. And what if it really kicks off? Maybe the pundits would like to scold the masses. But who will listen to them? Take those in the Mail, now the country’s largest selling paper. Sarah “Vain” Vine, whose husband Michael “Oiky” Gove didn’t bat en eyelid when he fiddled his expenses, and never apologised afterwards? What authority does she have? None.
Richard Littlejohn, perchance? But who wants to listen to a has-been who doesn’t even live in this country? Nigel “Thirsty” Farage? Properties in France and has been trying to get a German passport? The PM, whose Dad has been trying to get French passports for some of the extended family? Any of them plead for calm, they’ll get told to fuck off.
And that isn’t the half of it. The economic contraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic will mean possibly millions of job losses. Along with a possible winter resurgence of the virus. The NHS will struggle to cope, there will be increases in domestic violence, suicide, self harm, and yes, public order will fracture once more, almost certainly violently.
Added to that, any perception that the cops, especially in London where rather more of them can be deployed, are going after BAME communities when they break up street and house parties, will set off years of frustration at the different standards of law enforcement authorities towards people who are not white. That, of course, gives the real racists and white supremacists an excuse to join the party. The potential for unrest is huge.
Tonnes of litter scattered across the beaches of the South Coast are bad. But they will pale into insignificance when the public realises they’re the fall guys, the people they voted for don’t care, and there aren’t enough cops to tell them to get back in their boxes.
When the storm breaks, it could be seriously grim. And the only certainty is that the real culprits will be nowhere to be seen. We live in worryingly unpredictable times.