Politics 8 August 2011 Rioters, police, and sentimentality Unclear thinking about social disturbances. Print HTML Sentimentality and partisanship are the banes of English political life. It may well be the same in other countries, but the polarisation which means that normally sensible people think that abuses of power are only what the "other side" do has been a feature of our domestic politics since well before the 1688 revolution. For some people, usually conservatives, there is sentimentality about the police. This is notwithstanding the repeated evidence of police corruption and brutality, and the casual dishonesty of police spokesmen whenever some new tragedy comes to light. The "boys in blue" do a "difficult job". It is "not easy, you know". For others, the sentimentality is about rioters. And this is notwithstanding that the criminality that often accompanies or follows-on on from protests cannot be justified in terms of politics, or indeed anything else. Instead of protesting earnestly outside Currys and JB Sports about the evils of highly priced consumer goods and the low wages of those who usually make them, the windows were smashed and those same goods were simply carried away in shopping trolleys. In fact, neither the police nor the rioters can be praised or blamed in universal terms. There has been a sequence of civil disturbances, some spontaneous, some planned; the police dealt with some of these well, and sometimes badly; and some protestors had a point, and some just took full advantage of an opportunity. But even now, the sort of people who have strong but easy political opinions are seeking out who is really to blame, whether it be certain hapless politicians on holiday, the loathsome bankers, the police, or the looters. And in all this, nobody's mind will actually change, for -- as usual -- civil disturbances will re-affirm and not challenge views already held. The other side will again been at fault. They always are. › Osborne's economic delusions persist David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman and author of the Jack of Kent blog. His legal journalism has included popularising the Simon Singh libel case and discrediting the Julian Assange myths about his extradition case. His uncovering of the Nightjack email hack by the Times was described as "masterly analysis" by Lord Justice Leveson. David is also a solicitor and was successful in the "Twitterjoketrial" appeal at the High Court. (Nothing on this blog constitutes legal advice.) Subscribe More Related articles The dog at the end of the lead may be small, but in fact what I’m walking is a hound of love Inside Big Ben: why the world’s most famous clock will soon lose its bong Is our obsession with class propping up the powerful?