In my view Bristol City Council should have removed the Colston statue as fast as its nineteenth century predecessors put the loathsome thing up. But the acquittal on charges of criminal damage of four individuals who took it upon themselves to haul it down was a real jaw-dropper.
The decision permissions the desecration by vigilantes and self appointed guardians of public morality of any bit of the public realm that they don’t like. So, it’s open season on statues of Winston Churchill and the hundreds of Queen Victoria who presided over an empire on which it is said the sun never set. There’s Cecil Rhodes, obviously, Clive of India and a raft of lesser known figures who will now presumably be outed by the mob and their images defiled or expunged. Fortunately Nelson, on his column, is safe, for now.
In this dystopia it seems that political debate and decisions shaped by them must be carried out through the agency of mob violence and the courts. Enough! I will certainly be supporting measures anticipated in the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill to ensure that vandals are convicted. It will then remain for the judge, within sentencing guidelines, to reflect any relevant mitigating circumstances in the penalty awarded.
I hope too that in the Colston case the Lord Chief Justice will settle his Bristol Crown Court colleague into a leather armchair for a gentle word over a nice single malt - or alternatively what in the military we would call a no coffee interview.
Before Christmas I generally supported the government’s modest Covid Plan B measures and it holding its nerve which contrasted with the altogether more restrictive measures imposed by other jurisdictions in the UK and abroad. Looking at the data now, it seems ministers have been largely vindicated.
I suspect there will still be several days of steeply increasing case numbers, especially outside London, but that they will fall away quickly. Sensible hygiene measures should still apply and it’s vital we reach people who have not been jabbed but the impression given by early data that omicron is milder than delta appears to have been accurate.
So the government is right to have eased some restrictions, notably on testing and travel. If the data goes the way we all hope it will, a number of others will fall away automatically at the end of the month.
Happy New Year everyone.