Sometimes governments do the right thing . . .

If a government is capable of doing one or two right things, it is capable of doing others

by Fabian Ubiquitus

We can be so preoccupied by what is WRONG with our government, we can lose sight of the fact that it is capable of RIGHTNESSES also and it is only upon rightnesses that anything worthwhile can be built.

“Oh no,” someone might say, “a decent world is made by eliminating extant wrongnesses – such as the abolition of slavery”.

True, but there had to be a rightnesses there in the first place in order for the abolishing to be conceived and gotten done. Those rightnesses are the courage and decencies of individual human beings and the willingness of decent human beings to take on, share and expand a new idea and put it into action.

These rightnesses must also exist within government itself for anything worthwhile to have gotten done. The abolition of slavery  is, again, a good example: government had enough people in it willing to heed and act upon the the various persuasions out forward by reformers and radicals at home and abroad.

What this boils down to is that government had proven capable at times of responding to the ideas and persuasions of progressive individuals, especially where those progressive individuals unite and co-act with others of similar mind to form powerful social movements,  and when it does our civilisation is moved up to a new higher level.

So the message is a simple one: we should take heart from the fact that governments are capable of doing the right thing and of listening to the voice of progress and reason if said voice is loud, coherent and persistent enough to make itself heard above the clamouring voices of extant vested interests, the present-day equivalant of the slave owners.

If a government is capable of doing one or two right things, it is capable of doing others

So here are two examples of enlightened governance.

First: The Abolition of Slavery

The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) abolished slavery in parts of the British Empire. This Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom expanded the jurisdiction of the Slave Trade Act 1807 and made the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal within the British Empire . . . read more

Second: the Concept of Policing by Consent

Here’s a remarkably enlightened concept of policing from the UK government’s own website.

When saying ‘policing by consent’, the Home Secretary was referring to a long standing philosophy of British policing, known as the Robert Peel’s 9 Principles of Policing. However, there is no evidence of any link to Robert Peel and it was likely devised by the first Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis (Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne). The principles which were set out in the ‘General Instructions’ that were issued to every new police officer from 1829 were:

  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence. [enphgasis added – UKR]
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Essentially, as explained by the notable police historian Charles Reith in his ‘New Study of Police History ‘in 1956, it was a philosophy of policing ‘unique in history and throughout the world because it derived not from fear but almost exclusively from public co-operation with the police, induced by them designedly by behaviour which secures and maintains for them the approval, respect and affection of the public’.

It should be noted that it refers to the power of the police coming from the common consent of the public, as opposed to the power of the state. It does not mean the consent of an individual. No individual can chose to withdraw his or her consent from the police, or from a law.


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About Steve Cook 682 Articles
Director, UK Reloaded
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