By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter
Looks like the Maggie’s Boys have grown up, rebelled and done a “Miley Cyrus.”
Is it time to give the police an ASBO?
It used to be one of the cast iron rules of politics that the Government was wise to keep the police sweet.
When Thatcher came to power in 1979 she immediately gave the police force huge pay rises (up to 45 per cent) and implemented a massive increase in recruitment.
Thatcher said: “Our intention to back the police in the war against crime”, and from that day on the police became known as “Maggie’s Boys.”
This is not to say that every officer voted Tory and went home from a shift locking up villains to worship an image of her hanging above the fireplace, but the general leaning of the force was pro-Tory. The officers would fight crime as well as other groups that got in her way.
Some of the violence dished out by the police against unions was brutal and the Battle of Orgreave was one of the most prominent pitched battles against picketing workers.
In 1991, South Yorkshire Police were forced to pay out half a million pounds to 39 miners who were arrested in the events of that day and in many ex-mining towns, some of the wounds still haven’t healed… literally.
Even during the last Labour Government the police remained loyal to the Tories.
During the blockade of oil refineries in 2000, which nearly brought England to its knees, Tony Blair notes in Alastair Campbell’s dairies: “If this was Thatcher and the miners, the police would waste no time wading in.”
The Tories backed the oil protests, so maybe that is why the coppers didn’t reach for their truncheons.
However, partly due to budget cuts, the police’s loyalty to the Tories has diminished, perhaps forever.
The 43 forces across England and Wales have had to absorb a 20 per cent, or £2.4bn, reduction in their Whitehall funding since the austerity programme ordered by the coalition government came in to effect during summer 2011.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) believes at least five police forces will struggle to make the further budget cuts that are being demanded by the coalition.
The on-going “Plebgate” saga seems to illustrate the police’s willing to take on the Government and to protect themselves rather than the general public.
Deborah Glass, the deputy chair of the IPCC “strongly disagreed” with the findings of the police regarding the Mitchell affair, but the Police Federation won’t back down.
A stroppy teenager gets in more trouble for not owning up rather than the wrongdoing they originally committed, and it seems the Police Federation are telling the government: “It wasn’t me, prove it.”
This could prove a risky strategy if it turns out the Government can.
Ms Glass also said a misconduct panel should be held to determine whether the three officers gave a false account in a deliberate attempt to discredit Mr Mitchell in pursuit of a wider agenda.
Thoughts that appear to be supported by BBC political editor Nick Robinson, who said: “What brings those politicians together is the anger at what they see as a conspiracy orchestrated by the coppers’ union – the Police Federation.”
Rank and file officers just want to get on with their jobs, but like any union the Police Federation is protecting its work force.
Whether they would deliberately discredit a politician to support their cause remains to be seen.
The current Government either does not care about keeping the police onside, or has judged that the reputation of the police has fallen so far in the eyes of the public that it does not matter to rattle their cages.
But on the whole, I think the public would prefer a bobby on the beat than a politician canvassing their home.
The Government think the police’s stock has fallen, but what colour is their pot?
The Tories better hope this stroppy teenager act is just a phase they are going through and they won’t end up in trouble with the law… because the prisons are full.