Thursday, 7 March 2019

Javid exploits May's correlation gaffe

Last Friday night a seventeen year old girl, Jodie Chesney, was stabbed to death in a leafy London suburb. The political media elite immediately went into moral panic mode. In the midst of this moral panic Theresa May asserted that there is no "direct correlation" between the numbers of police officers and violent crime. Politicians, senior police officers and the corporate media all immediately poured scorn and contempt upon her assertion. Yet, the prime minister is undoubtedly and obviously correct.

For decades crime, including violent crime, has been declining. Yet over the same decades the number of police officers has risen and fallen. Any dispassionate analysis of the figures would lead to the conclusion that there is no direct correlation between the number of police officers and the incidence of criminal acts. Crime clearly has causes that are at least partially independent of the number of police officers.

Yet, the prime minister's claim is being treated with withering contempt, as though it is the height of foolishness, by the elite. News programme after news programme is filled with supposed experts, and people who obviously have no expertise, asserting that there is an obvious (albeit unexplained - indeed, completely contradictory rationales are offered) link between the number of police officers and the rate of violent crime. However, if this constantly repeated assertion were correct, the statistical evidence would show declining crime consequent to increased police numbers and increasing crime consequent to reduced police numbers: there is no such statistical evidence.

This lack of evidence is, however, completely unimportant, as the "debate" is not about evidence. It isn't even a debate. It is, in fact, a moral panic. The death of Jodie Chesney was only one in a series of such incidents, but it triggered the moral panic because her death showed the elite that it could affect them (rather than just poor people). This triggered an emotional response and ensured that thinking by the elite on this subject was now confined to the level of intuition. In this context, merely pointing to disconfirming evidence is, at best, proof of idiocy and, at worst, downright evil.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who is doubtless well aware that there is no direct correlation between police numbers and crime, has decided to side with the herd and repeatedly asserts that there is a link, even though his government has been responsible for reducing police numbers by more than twenty thousand.

Javid is obviously positioning himself for a bid to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. He is using the tried and tested law and order card, making a direct appeal to the members of the party across the country. He knows they will, just like the corporate media so called journalists, be taking that view that more police officers would mean less crime. He knows that they will not be considering the statistical evidence and would dismiss it out of hand even if it were presented to them. He knows May's accurate assertion was a serious political gaffe and, out of ambition to be the next leader, he is prepared to exploit that gaffe for all it's worth.

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