‘What matters’ is that equality works

We are currently told that Black Lives Matter which, like all lives, of course they do.

And while we now discover that the American policeman accused of murder had had 17 complaints against him, none of which seemed to have changed anything, and, indeed there are also instances of American policemen killing white arrestees with equal disregard – which is why I approve of the Bernie Sanders idea that America needs to substantially reorganise its policing.

Of course Britain’s policing is not without fault, though I do think that the attitude of being the last refuge for the 24/7 social worker is not without eventual merit. At least in Britain the Police is called a ‘service’. Yet only recently we read that the Metropolitan Police issued lockdown fines disproportionately to minority ethnic people and that this shows prejudice.

It might, of course. But might just as easily not show any prejudice at all, but simply be indicative of the poor housing and poverty of those being fined. Those with large gardens and spare bedrooms don’t really need to go anywhere at all, whereas it is likely that if you’re in cramped conditions with no private outside space you will be at a greater likelihood of wanting to push at the boundaries just for relief, and so potentially subject to a fine. When black lives are concentrated among the least well off there is automatic prejudice enshrined in the structure of society. The police have to live with this.

We know that minority ethnic communities are also more likely to go to hospital with Covid-19. That I suggest, is also linked to poverty because we know that poor diets and obesity are implicated and although occurring throughout the population, both are more prevalent among poorer communities.

So whilst Britain and other European countries – bizarrely to me – concentrate on the undoubted brutality of the American Police by demonstrating in their own countries – and even more bizarrely, at close quarters – and while even the EU thinks all their members are better than that (though I hope the Hungarians weren’t listening) and we all try to ensure we never sink to American standards of policing, what we really need to do is concentrate on eradicating poverty.

I agree with Mr Schinas, the European commissioner, and a vice-president charged with promoting Europe’s “way of life”, when in the same FT article he was quoted as saying that Europeans, while not complacent, were “world champions” on human rights and took care of minority groups. He was correct then, as he was when he added:

.. we do have an issue in Europe, which is the issue of inequalities and income distribution — making the best for everyone of what we have.


That would do more for our policing and health service than any amount of race awareness courses or Covid-19 inquiries and that is why the government does so much harm to all of its citizens whenever it increases poverty. Basically it sets us all up to fail.

In the strict budgetary terms that those on the right might agree: if you don’t subsidise the poor you will end up paying for something else that would not otherwise be prevalent.

For progressives, reducing and ultimately eradicating poverty means you just make society better for everyone.

Since we seem to be in to slogans perhaps we should just say that ‘equality works’?


  1. B Gray -

    Peter, your comments are right on the mark. Poor policing in the U.S. is merely a symptom of the larger disease of poverty and institutional racism, as well as an economic system that delivers gilded age levels of inequality, and values the protection of property over human life.

    Lack of economic security and opportunity, both real and perceived, can create a sense of hopelessness that leads to increased violent crime, which ultimately leads to increased militarization of urban police departments with tragic consequences. We cannot fix policing without fixing the underlying issues of systemic poverty, racism, and inequality.

    Also, another Onion headline for your enjoyment:

    1. Peter May -

      I like that too! Thank goodness we are not there – at least not yet. Of course Johnson famously bought some second hand water cannons…

      1. Jams O'Donnell -

        Well, luckily for the poor and / or black population of London, the water-cannon aren’t there now either. Unfortunately the erstwhile mayor is though established at the heart of what is laughingly called ‘government’ at present, and has refused on a number of occasions to condemn Trumps attitude to the protests. There is a saying about jam and what rises to the top . . .

Comments are closed.