Where’s the government?

A lot of people are asking where is the government’s presence and leadership over the London Riots. I don’t believe they’re relevant.

David Cameron, Boris Johnson and George Osborne are all mysteriously absent from the scene. Nick Clegg rushed home today. People are demanding their presence, to calm the protesters, support the police and reassure the nation. They are not necessary.

It’s not like Cameron’s magical presence on the scene would cause the waves of rioters to part, and return home. We can’t bestow the government with that much power. I feel that local MPs Lammy and Featherstone have been doing an excellent job of representing the government, and that’s what we need – local representatives, with a direct link to the people, not distant politicos orating from above. In a situation like this, we need people to feel a direct link to their political representatives, so the reassurance and calming on the scene should be done as near to the bottom level of government as possible.

On a national level, I don’t need to be reassured about the rioting. Yes, the people in the local area need to be helped, and they should be given as much support as possible. But people in other cities, and small towns, don’t need to be reassured about this. We don’t need national leaders.

What these riots require is highly-cohesive and coordinated, locally-based, support mechanisms being built, calming measures taking by politicians in London, the policy doing their job well, and the upper-echelons of government helping coordinate, and offering the occasional statement. They don’t need to come off holiday.

Having said that, people shouldn’t be so easily swayed in elections as over the issue of who was on holiday when…

I am concerned by a couple of things.  Firstly, this is yet another example of the capital-centric nature of nations, a belief that the capital is the centre. In many ways it is, but I cannot believe that rioting in Edinburgh, Manchester or Plymouth would be talked about in the press so much. Secondly, while I acknowledge that all the government is in direct contact, even during holidays – I am concerned about who is directly in control, ready to be on the ground if necessary. Apparently, no one. No one should need to return to Britain, because there should be someone here to deal with it. I thought that was why we had various roles in government, particularly deputies. Finally, I am concerned of all this in an international context – why are relatively minor riots in London more important than annihilation in Tahrir Square?

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