Conservative Diary

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Cameron has two tasks. (1) Restore immediate order. (2) Plot a path to a country where there are consequences for doing the wrong thing.

By Tim Montgomerie
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All over the world people have been watching lawless Britain. They've watched businesses torched, innocent citizens robbed and cars overturned. Worse, they've seen the police holding back, taunted by yobs who seem fearless.

They've also seen left-wing politicians make excuses for the rioters and I've written about Ken Livingstone's unfitness to be London's Mayor here.

This is a massive moment for David Cameron. Can he find the words and leadership to speak for the vast majority of law-abiding people who see the state spending 50.1% of national income but unable to protect them?

He must do two things. First, he must co-ordinate action to restore immediate order. It is interesting that in her interviews this morning the Home Secretary has dodged questions about using the army. It clearly is an option. It's not just right-wing Tories calling for the military. Former Lib Dem MP Evan Harries this morning tweeted: "I hope Govt prepraring for forces personnel to assist police & fire service under pol command. Escalating mob rule unacceptable". He's right. We will soon be facing a problem of police exhaustion. 6,000 officers were on the streets last night, working under terrible and frightening conditions. The first resort must be back up from other constabularies but the military option must be on the COBRA table.

Cameron's second task is to plot a path away from this. Most of the ingredients to get Britain back on its feet are in the Coalition Agreement: Deficit Reduction, Schools Reform, Welfare Reform; Police Reform. The PM needs to announce a police revolution. In The Telegraph David Green explains how, over at least twenty years, the police have become empty shells - commanding neither respect nor fear on the streets. Cameron's instincts were right on Bill Bratton. I don't understand why Theresa May has said the next Met Chief needs to be British. Is she listening too much to APCO? Let's have the best cop in the world. If he's available let's appoint him tomorrow. It's one year until the Olympics and London is on fire.

Most of all Cameron needs to define a national mission. He needs to explain what's gone wrong in our country and tell us how he will start to put things right. To use an expression tweeted out by Graeme Archer last night, we have government policies that have "de-civilised" large parts of our country. The link between doing the right thing and reward - whether in parenting, education or work - has been broken. Criminals are endlessly cautioned before they are punished.

Good luck Mr Cameron. This is your moment.


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