Sunday, May 27, 2007

Can 'SUS' be re-branded?

Political Marketing is about designing policies that the majority want and then selling them as of benefit to society, while this sounds simple in reality it is anything but. John Reid has announced that the Home Office is considering giving the police greater powers of stop and search, with a £5,000 fine for non-cooperation attached, in order to prevent terrorism. While simple to sell as a method of restricting the movement of suspected terrorism, it is harder to see how it would fulfill William Hague's criteria that police tactics would not "alienate the people we need in the fight against terrorism".

The huge problem here is that this harks back to 'SUS', and the practice of stopping of young black youths if there was 'reasonable suspicion'. This practice that was popularised throughout the 1980s led to a number of violent clashes, so called race riots, between black youths and the police. While many organisations focus on collecting evidence of the institutional racism that can be found in the way that the British police carry out their duties, and stop and search policing is often seen as an outward display of prejudice.

The problem with this new initiative is that it could clearly alienate many young Asians within Britain. As many media reports have noted, it is very simple to build an image of the suspected terrorist; normal looking, Asian, may carry a rucksack. How can the policy not alienate, particularly if there is any heavy-handedness, or worse mistakes such as the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. So how will such a policy be sold in a way that it will calm these rational concerns and encourage trust between the Asian community generally and the police? Can the police prevent more accusations of institutional racism? Or is this another policy that will further restrict liberty and freedom and be perceived by many as a direct attack on the freedoms of anyone who might be a Muslim? Selling policies is not like selling cornflakes, while you can rebrand a variety of household goods, the connotations attached to 'SUS' and the real concerns that will be raised will mean this idea could prove a very tough sell indeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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