All is power and all is politics

Daniel Trilling · Not Much like Consent: Crisis at the Met · LRB 30 March 2023

In the​ 1980s, the Met was a key part of the coalition of interests that underpinned the Thatcher government. Together, the Conservative Party, the police and the right-wing press successfully undermined the power of the unions, by legislating against them, physically attacking their members (as officers from the Met and other forces did at Orgreave and elsewhere during the miners’ strike) and persuading just enough people that this was necessary to maintain law and order. Not every officer approved of the role the police played: Dick wrote an essay during her training arguing that the Thatcher years created ‘the impression that the police had been reduced to the status of political tools’. But the Tories bought goodwill among the rank and file – and boosted recruitment – by implementing a 45 per cent pay rise soon after taking office in 1979. ‘Most of us in the police thought [Thatcher] was simply magnificent,’ Ron Evans, a former Met protection officer, told Harper.