Cops ‘crying wolf’?
Article originally written for the Police Oracle and re-published here for wider enjoyment.
Any former tutors or supervisors will recognise the format of Theresa May’s Federation Conference speech as the good old fashioned sh*t sandwich. Starting with how brave and hardworking those wonderful cops are and ending with a bit of ‘let’s work together’ to make the world a better place. Lovely stuff.
Okay the sh*tty bit of the sandwich contained some outrageously intelligence insulting statements, each one a little bit less believable than the last:
“The Home Office no longer believes it runs policing”
Saying neighbourhood police officers are an “endangered species” is “scaremongering”
“Our country has never been safer”
“Earnings are up”
“An HMIC that is truly independent..”
“The frontline service has been maintained…” (There was something else about 91% on the frontline but I was laughing so hard by then that I couldn’t focus)
Humility was in very short supply – gloating and smugness was the order of the day. I’ve not seen arrogance on that scale since the lady with the scary hair was in her prime.
I mean you can’t blame her for being confident. Let’s be honest watching the Police Federation take her on for the past five years has been a bit like watching a National Health bespectacled 7 year old kid from the remedial class challenging Garry Kasparof to a game of chess.
I’m not blaming the Federation she is a formidable adversary – smart, driven and ruthless. She’s systematically weakened, discredited and divided her opponent before moving in for the kill. She’s also had solid support behind her. Have the Fed had the same? Nope – we’ve been pretty quick to turn on you and stick the boot in when the going got tough.
One thing that surprised me was her ‘crying wolf’ line. It comes from one of the more renowned of Aesop’s Fables. ‘The boy who cried wolf’ was a shepherd boy who liked to exaggerate. Mrs May decided previous ‘wolf cries’ from drama queen Fed reps was a bit of irresistible ‘spin’ offering her the opportunity to be less than courteous to her hosts by giving them a couple more slaps for good luck. To be fair it was true though wasn’t it?
Personally I think she got a bit carried away there. To me it smacks of one of those lines that come back to bite over-cocky people in the bum. As we’ve constantly been reminded in the last few week’s politics is a very fickle business. I think the ‘cry wolf’ line might one day be up there with Gerald Ratner’s ‘total crap’.
The thing is it’s good to be grateful isn’t it? Like in Aesop’s fable: ‘The travellers and the plane tree’. In this story travellers rest under a plane tree that sheltered them from bad weather but as soon as it was fine they plucked the leaves and cut its branches. Bit short-sighted that, the weather can fluctuate just like crime rates and public disorder.
Here Goosey Goosey
And I know money’s tight but some things are false economy like in Aesop’s fable: ‘The goose that lays golden eggs’. In this story a cottager and his wife had a goose that gave them a golden egg every day. They supposed that the goose must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed it. Inside they found the goose was no different to other geese. The moral of the story being that they didn’t realise what they had. I wonder if our Home Secretary does?
And let’s face it, maybe we the police could have displayed a bit more humility ourselves? We’ve been a bit greedy too in the past and took the money and done the Government’s dirty work without asking too many questions. Maybe we should have taken the learning from Aesop’s fable: ‘The ass and the pig’. This is a very sad story about a pig that was fattened on barley and then sacrificed. The left-over grain was given to the ass, who refused it because of the fate that had overtaken the one it had previously fed. I mean on the surface it looks like a totally illogical thought process on the part of the ass but if you replace the word ‘pig’ with ‘National Union of Mineworkers’ and you replace ‘ass’ with ‘Police’ then perhaps we’d have been smarter turning down the barley instead of buying all those extensions and new cars. (I guess the cops back then didn’t suss that they were next)
Come on Rocky
The British Police are debilitated, demotivated and divided. So what’s next – is that it, game over? The way I see it there are three options:-
- Give in
- Work with Mrs May
- Fight back
None look very inviting do they? Let’s have a closer look:-
Give in? Carry on “shouting from the sidelines” while you wait for it to fail. Well at least you can have the somber satisfaction of saying ‘told you so’? But you do know what happened to the little boy who cried wolf in the end? The wolf ate him.
Work with? Jump into bed with Theresa (metaphorically speaking of course). Poor old Fed – wouldn’t that put you between a rock and a hard place? If you do go for this option please remember Aesop’s fable: ‘The mouse and the oyster’. That’s the story of the mouse who comes across an oyster and tries eating it, only for the shell to snap shut, bringing him instantly both death and a tomb. Oops!
Fight back? Back your Federation. Take the learning from the last five years and formulate a plan of attack. You’re weak and wounded but are you beaten? Time for a big finish. Time for me to energise and galvanise the underdog in the face of adversity. Sadly ‘David and Goliath’ wasn’t one of Aesop’s fables, neither did he write any of the Rocky films and I couldn’t find that motivational speaker so looks like it’s over to you Police Federation – what have you got left?
If you want to know what I’d do to resuscitate the ‘thinner than ever’ blue line then come and see my Edinburgh show this August A FAIR COP STANDS UP.