Sunday, 5 September 2010

Who are the police batting for?

'Where's yer canary, mining scum?'
As a kid watching the miner's strike unfold, I wasn't especially informed about the issues.  Coal mining looked a pretty mucky job and you're probably better off out of it, working in a velcro factory or something, or being unemployed and watching sport. But I do remember the shudder on seeing the friendly British bobby with his comedy hat out of Trumpton, and genial way of riding on the footplate of your car singing,  fighting burglars merely by tooting a whistle and having rosy cheeks like an embarrassed puffin, suddenly turn into one of many mutton-faced shock troops stomping down working class northerners like the rotters in Battleship Potemkin.  The flashback was caused by a small detail in the recently resurfaced News of the World bugging affair.  This is from page 5 of 8 in the recent New York Times article on the subject online.

"In addition to the royal household, Scotland Yard alerted five other victims whose names would appear in the indictment of Mulcaire. Of the remaining hundreds who potentially had their phones broken into, the police said they notified only select individuals with national-security concerns: members of the government, the police and the military."

Hang on.  The police?  Did the News of the World have dirt on the cops?  Could that account for Scotland Yard's reluctance to investigate such a major offence as a foreign-owned company bugging government and military sources?

As in the miners strike the police have transmogrified into an alien beast working for bad people. They've become the police in South Africa during apartheid, or in New Orleans during a hurricane. The bluebottles, bobbies and old time coppers of my Norman Wisdom tainted youth have turned.  

Imagine whatever brand of plod forms your own memory of the typical policeman.  Imagine him patting his head with a hanky as he looks down the list in the Cheam home of the News International private investigator.    

'Blimey Sarge, T'aint only dolly birds what they got on this 'ere list, they's got rozzers an' all.  Top Brass and no mistake.'  'Give me that list you flatfoot' reply the clipped tones of the Sergeant.   'I think Chief SuperIntendent will be interested in this.'  'Cor Stone me', replies the sweating Constable, scratching on his mildewed neck creases,   'Hope they ain't rumbled his dalliance with Trixie Flanders, the cheeky prostitute.'   

Ripple dissolve.  


Chief Superintendent bows low and when told to get up glistens with slime as he explains that he will have to investigate some - well, a few, I mean very very few - alright, just 5 of the cases  of the hundreds of hacked MPs, military, police, sports and showbiz people.  Otherwise some might suggest the Met is in the pay of foreign news organisations.  

'Perish the thought' says Andy Coulson, a smile spreading across his face like a tumour.    

Meanwhile a policewoman dances onto a small stage nearby dressed only in feather boa and Coulson puts a pale finger to his lips.  'The entertainment has started'. 

In the blue flashing strobe light the Chief SuperIntendent can't help seeing in his master's chubby features a resemblance to those of Edgar Hoover.  Now there was a dirty digger.