In the midst of debate about retention of terror suspects, we all became deeply concerned about the political profile of the police. Terror 'experts' were granted constant access to the House of Commons to advise our legislators on how and why they ought to vote, while Blair renounced a good deal of political accountability by simply saying that he was doing what the police had asked him to.
This merger of law-enforcement with law-creation has a flip-side: the moralisation of policing, whereby it shifts from technical questions about surveillance and evidence-gathering, to the preaching of moral values. A prime example of this is demonstrated today, in a story about a new drive to crack down on middle class cocaine users. The head of the Met Police has asked Shoho's chattering PR morons to consider the following: "do you know that the greatest deployment of landmines in the world is by the cocaine growers in Colombia...? People need to think that young men die in estates in North London so that someone else can have a wrap of cocaine."
This shows a bizarre combination of arrogance and insecurity (his surname is 'Blair' after all). The moral rights and wrongs of a piece of legislation have nothing to do with the police; their job is administrative, not legislative. On the other hand, why does he think people need an additional impetus to obey the law? It's the law isn't it? There is a theme emerging in the New Labour era, perhaps a knock-on effect of its utilitarianism, of doubling up incentives in this way to achieve outcomes. It was announced a few days ago that GPs could be payed not to write sick-notes for people - as if left to their own devices they have no moral compass whatsoever. It was mooted last year that young people might be paid to behave themselves - as if anti-social behaviour were simply some lifestyle choice that needed to be priced out of the market. One might even think of Blair's defence of the war, that Sadam Hussein was in breach of a number of UN resolutions, and was a genocidal maniac.
This is a new mode of governmentality in which the moral and the empirical aspects of law become split from one another: you ought to do as we say, but if you don't see this, then we'll give you a damn good reason to anyway.