So much of what is written on this website, and others like it, is party political point scoring. And I have absolutely no problem with that. In any democratic system it’s inevitable that one side will try and point out the failings of the other and vice versa. That’s the game, and those are the rules.
But sometimes the game has to stop, and we all have to pull together for the good of the country. Whilst it’s easy to score cheap political points from our opponents, we should should resist the temptation. Whilst there are obvious questions to be asked about whether and when senior ministers and other should have returned from their holidays, the ability of the police to restore calm and the looming spectre of police cuts, they are questions for the future, not the present.
There’s only one issue that matters today – restoring calm and order, and preventing the kind of rapid violent contagion we saw across London and other major cities last night. Being a responsible opposition is about working in the national interest – the national interest is best served now by Cameron getting this situation under control.
In other counties, there’s a more clear understanding of that idea. During moments of national trauma, Americans will defer to their President – even if they spend the rest of their time furiously campaigning against everything they stand for. When people are too scared to leave their homes, and some are barricaded in their basements for fear of nearby violence, or forced to flee in the night from petrol-laced flames, then there is only one thing that matters – getting the situation under control, as quickly as possible.
That’s not to say that Labour should not have an alternative vision for the country. If ever there were a time for “Tough on crime, Tough on the causes of crime”, it is now. We should seek to build a Britain without the wasted lives, anger and disaffection that has blighted communities and fanned the flames of criminality this week. And we should be sharp in our critiques of this government, whilst not forgetting our own grave failings in this area.
But that’s all for the future. After the violence has ended. After order has been restored. After the clean up. Shattered lives must be rebuilt. Justice must be served. And we must find a way to rebuild communities. But for today, and the coming days, David Cameron is our Prime Minister. He’s all we’ve got. And we should back his efforts to restore order to the hilt.
Only by doing so do we earn the right to (rightly) criticise later. On this occasion, fortune does not favour the opportunist.