Here in the United (cough cough) Kingdom (cough cough), there’s been this self-regarding thing about how generally un-corrupt public life is. Elections don’t get rigged, you don’t have demagogues, your advancement in life doesn’t depend on who your daddy or uncle is. You don’t need to bribe anyone to pass exams etc etc. Not like Johnny Foreigner (wogs begin at Calais). Exemplified perhaps by the “heaven and hell” thing –
“Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and it is all organised by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organised by the Italians”. (See here, but the wikipedia article on Faxlore is fascinating).
Well, I shouldn’t think Jean Charles de Menezes or Ian Tomlinson think British coppers are heavenly. Nor that little turd Andrew “plebgate” Mitchell.
For the last few years though, the curtain has been steadily pulled back, and the inner workings – grotty, corrupt, incompetent and vicious – have been ‘revealed’ (1) for what it is. The bankers were revealed as insanely greedy poltroons. The politicians as insanely greedy poltroons (expenses scandal etc). The press as phone-hacking grubby poltroons who let paedophiles run riot. The police as willing to cover up for their fatally incompetent or just downright thuggish, and in cosy relationships with the grubby hacks.
So now there are multiple “independent panels” and investigations of each of the three (Leveson, Operation Alice, Operation that etc etc). Even if I could be bothered, I don’t think I have the mental capacity to keep up, even with handy infographics from the FT.
The press kicks the police and the politicians, the police kick the politicians and leak selectively to the press, the politicians regulate the press and cut the police budget. And the sordid carousel goes on. As illegitimate three-ways go, it’s pretty watchable…
If and when the shit hits the fan, is there a single source of legitimate power (i.e. authority) left?
(1) Anyone could have seen it – most people being shat on knew it instinctively for years. I am not saying the myth was ever true, that there ever was a Golden Age. But Maggie did take a so-so situation and turned it into a shituation….