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January 30, 2007

Ungovernable in Devon: looting on Devon beaches bodes ill for civic peace, argues Jeremy Black

Posted by Jeremy Black
Well, it had crashed. The door was open. So I took the parcels, well those that looked as though they were worth taking. See, I know the Post Office or the insurance, or something, would give the people back what it's worth, and anyway they're all rich gits any way. I missed out on that Devon beach. But why bother going there - walking on pebbles. No thanks. What I like is a crashed Post Office van. Did I help it to crash? Well that's asking.
A history of wrecking was mentioned by some commentators on the fate of the Napoli's cargo - but wreckers could expect to be hunted down and executed. What was on display was the fragility of civil society, the ungovernability of a large tranche of society, a widespread contempt for due process of law, and a failure for policing.

To some, it appeared amusing, but this was not funny. The inability of the police to respond rapidly suggests that they do not appreciate the importance of the example of public order. Ungovernability is cumulative, whether it is giving in to the fuel protests in 2000, after which the government abandoned the policy of raising fuel duties by more than inflation, or passing public order laws that cannot be enforced. If you thought it was a joke wait until something similar happens near you.

Jeremy Black is Professor of History, University of Exeter.

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Posted by: Rob Spear at February 1, 2007 06:08 AM
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