Set expression to Smirk-O-Matic
What happened can be described directly: Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was walking back to her home in Brixton Hill on the evening of March 3. Her route was well-lit and traversed by lots of traffic - and other pedestrians. She did not arrive home. Her body was later found in woodland at Great Chart, near Ashford, Kent. A serving Met officer, Wayne Cousins, has since been charged with her kidnap and murder.
A group called Reclaim These Streets wanted to hold a vigil on Clapham Common, but talks with the Met broke down and it was called off. But many women went anyway. There were a lot of people in a relatively small area, but that was also true of the scenes in Glasgow after Rangers FC clinched the Scottish Premiership.
The difference with the Clapham Common vigil was that this was a peaceful act by women, and the Met decided to break it up by use of predominantly male force, the excuse advanced being the potential spread of Covid-19. But many outdoor gatherings have taken place in the past year without causing a spike in Covid-19 infections.
It is no exaggeration to say that the outcome was a truly harrowing one - and especially for women everywhere. Overnight, our free and fearless press has clearly been taking briefing from those serving alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (himself no stranger to the occasional domestic), with the result that Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has been made a scapegoat, London Mayor Sadiq Khan being included for good measure.
But not only does Khan have no responsibility for directing the Met, Commissioner Dick is not the one with whom the buck ultimately stops: that responsibility rests with Priti Patel, inexplicably made Home Secretary by Bozo and his pals. It is Ms Patel who will come to the Commons tomorrow brandishing a proposed Bill which will clamp down on the freedom to protest. How convenient it would be to have the media Look Over There. Even over there to Khan, with whom Ms Patel has an uneasy relationship.
Appearing on The Andy Marr Show™, Labour’s Jess Phillips said the cops “got it wrong at every single turn … There are a million ways that could have been organised, but the police put their foot down before they put their boot in and at every stage they made the wrong call”. Khan “said the scenes were ‘unacceptable’ and that he was ‘urgently seeking an explanation’ from the commissioner”. And what of Ms Patel?
Is it my fault already?
She sent her junior Victoria Atkins out to face the Marr Show grilling, and merely “called footage on social media ‘upsetting’ and said she had asked the Metropolitan Police for a ‘full report on what happened’”. But the Sunday editions of the Times and Telegraph - both reliable conduits for Tory briefers - are both suggesting Ms Dick should walk the plank.
Meanwhile, the minister with ultimate responsibility for the Met, and whose Bill will bring more of those forceful crackdowns, gets away scot free. A convenient scapegoat, indeed.
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