Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It's Elementary

There’s nothing quite like a good British crime story. Whether it is Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, or more modern investigators from Scotland Yard, the twist and turns of a good English mystery attract readers and TV viewers around the world. Happily, a new source of material for this popular genre has been created by H M Government. SOCA has been officially launched.

The Serious Organised Crimes Agency is being referred to as Britain’s version of the FBI. The complex and focused mission of the new agency is obvious from its name. It is seriously organised. It deals with organised crime, especially seriously organised crime. It will not involve itself with humorous or trivial crimes. Comically disorganised criminals will have to find another organisation to match wits with. And the members of the new agency will be agents! Compared to that bold vision, the FBI’s job looks absolutely boring. It’s just a bureau to investigate federal stuff. (Although the FBI is a bureau rather than an agency, its employees are called agents rather than bureaucrats. The policing of American English is somewhat less rigid than the policing of America.)

Announcing the new agency, Prime Minster Tony Blair said, “There is nothing that should come before the basic liberty of the people in this country to be free from the tyranny of organised crime.” Given this bold statement, there seems to be one obvious organized criminal element against which SOCA can direct its attention: politicians.

The US Congress is pretending to be very, very upset about corruption. One member has been packed off to jail and prosecutors are looking into further possible cases. Since the US is a democracy, crooked politicians expect things like cash contributions and expensive vacations in return for favorable legislation that benefits their contributors. But the colonials have nothing on their British cousins.

Since the UK is a constitutional monarchy, crooked politicians are in a better bargaining position than the Yanks. In return for cash contributions and expensive holidays, they can offer to promote their serious contributors to the House of Lords as well. A $10 billion contract to provide left-handed scissors to the Department of Agriculture might be an attention getter in the US. Being promoted to Lord Muggins of Loose Chippings is an absolute show-stopper in the UK. For £1 million you get the contract and the chance to wear tights and a fur coat!

Given the concerns about bribes, backhanders, and general questionable practices regarding corruption in government, the political parties in the UK are banging on about the public financing of elections. Why should a few select contributors get shaken down by politicians when every citizen can be taken to the cleaners? Why not organize things – seriously?

There is a real chance for the revival of the British crime novel here. Brilliant Deputy Chief Agent Rathbone of SOCA takes on the Parliamentary Gang! The game is well and truly afoot! The SOCA team doggedly follows the trail of clues to the top of the seriously organized criminal cartel. And who could resist the final scene when organised crime czar Tony the Fixer turns to Rathbone and says, “It’s a fair cop, Guv.”

5 Comments:

Blogger aka.alias said...

"banging on about the PUBIC financing"?
Either a fascinating Freudian slip, or one very interesting country we're discussing here!

1:57 PM  
Blogger Homo Insapiens said...

aka...thanks for the comment and for catching the slip. Wish I could blame the typo on the gin.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Ananke said...

The FBI doesn't have just any old agents, they have SPECIAL agents....Yeah, no one in America cares either. ;-)

8:10 AM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

"Although the FBI is a bureau rather than an agency, its employees are called agents rather than bureaucrats. The policing of American English is somewhat less rigid than the policing of America"

what's in a name? A paper pusher by any other name would be just as annoying a tax burden.

(*)>

9:17 AM  
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7:48 AM  

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