Dread dress rehearsal

January 27, 2011

Alastair Hudson suggests that police kettling is explicable as a "massive and premeditated overreaction" designed to provoke violence by raising the tension in enclosed spaces, hence focusing media reports on the consequent lawlessness ("Defeated by violence and silence", 20 January). But recall how the Thatcher administration learned the lessons of Edward Heath's defeat by stockpiling coal and readying the police and army to defeat the miners in the mid-1980s.

Is it not likely that December's over-the-top kettling of a predominantly peaceful group of demonstrators was not a needless and very costly "overreaction", but rather calculated preparation - a full dress rehearsal involving comparatively compliant "extras" - for the prospect of the much bigger, uglier demonstrations that are likely to erupt as public spending cuts bite deep into the body politic?

Hugh Willmott, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University.

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