Louis XIV would envy your life

Some things in life acquire an outsize popularity which defies all common sense. The outlandish appeal of such things cannot be explained except by reference to René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire – the idea that there are many things we value not for their intrinsic utility and enjoyment but because we see that other people want them. Examples of such positive feedback loops in excess fashionability would include sourdough bread, Miss Taylor Swift and houses in Clapham or Fulham. Property is simply a stupid, rivalrous, uninnovative, rent-seeking repository for people’s money Fulham, for instance, is so far west it should have its own time zone. If you work in

We’ll miss Cressida Dick when she’s gone

To all those – from Left and Right – joining in the clamour for Cressida Dick to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, a pertinent question hangs in the air: Who would you hire to replace her and what good do you think it would do? If you are on the old-fashioned right of politics, you’d probably have in mind a figure in the mould of the no-nonsense former Commissioner Lord Stevens, a ‘copper’s copper’. If you are on the liberal left, you are much more likely to demand a ‘Common Purpose’ clone, steeped in the fashionable jargon of the College of Policing and identifying structural racism and non-crime

Who’s to blame for the Clapham Common debacle?

On Saturday evening, daughters, fathers and mothers of daughters and siblings of daughters gathered in Clapham Common at a vigil. Facing these police officers were hundreds of people seeking to remember Sarah Everard. What followed was a clash that turned what could have been a respectful memorial into a moment of apparently callous state repression threatening the future of the Met’s first female Commissioner, Cressida Dick. Dick has called out the armchair critics of her officers’ actions in Clapham. But make no mistake: the Met Police is in the dock. And Dick’s condemnation of those criticising her force won’t wash, either for politicians or the senior leadership of the Met, who jointly carry the can. 

Nick Tyrone

Priti Patel’s cowardly response to the Clapham Common debacle

Priti Patel’s reaction to the ugly scenes on Clapham Common on Saturday has been to point the finger. ‘Some of the footage circulating online from the vigil in Clapham is upsetting. I have asked the Metropolitan Police for a full report on what happened’, she has said. But do we really need to wait for a report to work out what has happened?  Perhaps, instead, the truth is rather simpler: the police were enforcing laws put into places by Priti Patel’s own government. Of course, there is some debate as to whether officers should have exercised more judgement in the applications of these laws. On this point, though, Patel has been clear:

Was the Clapham Common vigil unsafe? A look at the data

After facing widespread political condemnation, the Metropolitan Police has defended its handling of the Clapham Common vigil on public health grounds.  Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said that ‘Police must act for people’s safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe.’ Putting aside the varying behaviour of the police at proests during the pandemic, it’s worth looking a bit more at her reasons. ‘Around 6pm, more people began to gather close to the bandstand within the Common. Some started to make speeches from the bandstand. These speeches then attracted more people to gather closer

Isabel Hardman

How will politicians respond to the policing of the Clapham vigil?

Late last night, politicians started scrambling to express their concern about the policing of a vigil held on Clapham Common in the memory of Sarah Everard. After images of police officers arresting women on the ground emerged, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she found some of the footage ‘upsetting’ and would be asking the Metropolitan Police for a ‘full report’. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the scenes ‘disturbing’ and said, ‘this was not the way to police this protest’. The political implications of last night’s policing decisions are going to be very difficult for both Patel and Starmer. This week, the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill has its second

Telling men to ‘educate themselves’ won’t make women safe

Sarah Everard’s disappearance has sent shockwaves throughout the capital. The case has led to women sharing stories of how they don’t feel safe walking the streets at night. One Green party peer has said men should face a curfew until things change. Others have called for men to ‘educate themselves’ about the fears women face in the wake of this tragic story. But is this really the right approach? I’m not convinced. What is clear is that Sarah Everard did nothing wrong. Returning from a friend’s house on that fateful night, she wore bright clothing, she walked down a main road, she called her boyfriend on her way back. For women, decisions about personal