Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Nick Cohen Watch - Heisenberg Principle Edition

The Heisenberg Principle of "Watch" sites is that the minute you start watching someone, they start talking sense. Cohen's column (actually a blog in print form; it's nine parts "and another thing" to one part mindless populism of the "why don't they bring back Routemasters?[1]" form) is really quite good this week, though I am distressed to find out from a squib at the Atkins Diet that he considers himself a "fatty" these days; he must have put it on quite recently as he used to be quite vulpine of build. Best bit[2] (in relation to racial profiling of Asians as potential suicide bombers):

"Sir William McPherson's inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence ought to have given the Met the perfect reply to accusations of racism. One of the McPherson report's main recommendations was for police to formalise and generally clean up the way they used stop and search. Had they followed McPherson's recommendations, the Met could now have answered 'Obviously, a search for Muslim fanatics is going to spend most of its time looking at Muslims. But we have taken on board the findings of Sir William and all searches will be conducted courteously. Reasons will be given and senior officers will monitor operations'

"Unfortunately the Met can say no such thing. A dunderheaded campaign by the Police Federation, the Tory Party and the press and that unteachable opportunist David Blunkett led to Sir William's sensible recommendation being treated as the ravings of a demented bleeding heart, determined to tie officers' hands behind their backs. The number of searches shot up.

"The fact that Sir William was a keen golfer[3], former member of the SAS and, all in all, the world's least likely Hampstead liberal in no way restricted the venom which was spat at him.

"Yet for all the abuse he was right. It's not who you stop and search but how you stop and search that matters. If accountable officers treat the public with respect then there will be few problems. If they don't, there we're in for more trouble."

Well done fella. Signed, your man on the top deck of the 43, fighting chips with bruschetta. Still watching though.

[1]Non-Londoners; asking "what was wrong with Routemasters" in a column in the Standard is the rough equivalent of standing up in front of a club audience in Bolton and singing "Is this the way to Amarillo?". In actual fact, Cohen's invocation of this surefire crowd-pleaser is actually a little bit suspect, as he's still pushing the agenda of "the ordinary folks, god bless 'em, know a lot better than yer eggheads in yer ivory towers, they want bobbies on the beat", which is an agenda that is mindless but not harmless. But the rest of the column is not bad and I also live on the 43 bus route where someone got stabbed (and I always ride on the top deck and I am just the kind of headstrong type to cut up rough with someone throwing chips at my head) so there you go.

[2] Not on the web so I am typing it out longhand; I hope you lot are suitably grateful. If Associated Newspapers give it some about their copyright I will not only delete this but deny I ever typed it.

[3]The implication that "Hampstead liberals" don't play golf is so weird that I can only think that there must be a Jewish reference flying over my head here. Also not wonderfully happy about the implied SAS-worship since this is often an early sign of right-wing dementia but it's a borderline case at worst.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

British Transport Police, whose Chief Constable Ian Johnston seem to be keen on racial profile based searches are separate from the Metropolitan Police, and are not covered by the McPherson report.

8/03/2005 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahh yes, thanks, good point.

8/03/2005 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry. His Observer column today is back on form.

8/07/2005 08:47:00 AM  

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