Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Monday, November 15, 2004
Third blah. There's an angry letter in the Guardian about policing in the Isle of Wight:
So Hazel Blears wants to take policing to a "third phase" (Report, November 9). What exactly were phases one and two? We particularly liked the idea that local people should know local officers' names, "their emails, how to contact them". We don't have local police officers out here in the real world. Nearly all our local police stations have been taken away, as have the police officers who used to live in the community.

We have a handful of police personnel patrolling the Isle of Wight at night, who are routinely unavailable to deal with juvenile crime, and we suspect they haven't a lot of time to tend to the relationship "between the citizen and the local service".

We even have to telephone Winchester for non-emergency contact with the police. The government's jargon may mean something to them, but it's cuts little ice with people who have seen seven years of drift, "targets", and institutionalised non-achievement.

Hazel Blears, in case you are wondering, is a Home Office minister. According to the Guardian report of November 9 referred to in the letter, she "is an unusual sort of politician. She talks, unabashedly, about promoting traditional working-class values such as decency and respect, quotes the Italian socialist Ignazio Silone, and says the future of politics is local." Exactly the usual sort of politican, then. The only deviation from cliché is going for Silone as Unread Italian of Choice when the Front Bench opt for Amitai Etzioni*.

Ms Blears also says that the third phase of police reform is "about reinvention; about connecting public services to local people. We need to change the nature of the encounter and the relationship between the citizen and the local service".

Back to something that works?

The hope behind all this talk of phases is that reality will be too embarassed to diverge from the orderly and inevitable progression of the numerical series. Edward Heath, I recall, had an incomes policy that came in Phases I, II and III. It came unstuck at III.

This post is depressing me. Allow me to turn to a time-honoured means of cheering oneself up: the discovery and announcement of an entirely new law of nature. Are you ready? Here it is:Third Grandiose Whatevers are always unsatisfactory. The Third Whatever either is or wants to be the Second Whatever, but feels it necessary to pretend it isn't or doesn't. Third Way. Third World. Third Programme. See what I mean?

I am aware that the last paragraph has almost no connection to what went before other than mention of the word "Third". I just felt that humanity had already waited too long.

*A reader later pointed out to me that Etzioni is not in fact Italian.