When the police are in trouble, the establishment is in trouble.
And the Police Federation is in trouble. Not financially—its headquarters at Leatherhead cost £26 million and includes a hotel with more than 50 bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool.
And it has tens of millions in the bank, including £35 million in secondary accounts that have swirling accusations of impropriety about them.
But the federation was plunged into turmoil this week as its leaders quit unexpectedly amid internal rows over reform.
A series of crises have brought the trouble for the cops to a head.
Undercover cops, deaths in custody, the Hillsborough Inquiry and corruption in the Lawrence and Daniel Morgan investigations all have put pressure on the police.
It might seem odd to see newspapers such as the Daily Mail criticising the cops. It wrote on Tuesday, “something is seriously rotten at the organisation’s heart”.
A section of the cops took on the politicians over “Plebgate”—and they have lost.
They thought they could create a scandal to hurt the government. In fact, they hurt themselves in the eyes of the government.
But over reform of their own organisation they have so far held firm.
The Metropolitan Police Federation in particular has blocked attempts at reforms and cuts. But there are more rows to come.
That’s the danger with scandals—they can spin out of control and have unexpected consequences.
As the culture secretary Maria Miller was learning, getting out them is an art rather than a science.
Launching inquiries is more often than not intended to defuse situations and postpone a crisis. But they do often only do that—postpone the crisis.
So the hacking scandal opened up cracks in the unholy alliance between the police, the media and the political establishment
As the crisis has developed each section has turned on each of the other to protest its own interests.
So sections the press are keen to take on some MPs over expenses and some police officers over corruption. Politicians want to control the press and the police.
Along with the MP’s expenses scandal and dripping corruption stories these are sores that the establishment have yet to heal.
Without an alternative on offer these scandals have a tendency to breed cynicism. But they can also feed people’s rage against bosses and the government.
The people at the top think they can get away with anything. The one thing that unites them is their hatred of us.
Collectively, they make the lives of millions a misery. Collectively, we can bring them down.