If Raoul Moat had not evaded the police for a week would we be seeing the same outpouring of support? There is something uniquely British that we find the thought of one man outwitting the massed ranks of the country’s police service so appealing.
I don’t believe people are unaware that he was a murderer. But in a world where death can be seen on the news every night of the week, where jobs are scarce and money even scarcer – the lone warrior defeating the system is an attractive image.
This is not a new phenomenon. F or many years the mafia and its bosses have enjoyed a similar level of support and this despite the fact that they killed and maimed people. They killed innocent people but did all this in such a way that it was seen to be ‘beating the system’ and became the stuff of Hollywood legend.
And if there had been social networks at the time of the John Gotti trial in America I feel sure there would have been supportive Facebook pages and Tweets. This would be despite the fact that he was a murderer who had been in responsible for a tyranny of fear.
So what of the events in Northumbria? It may not be as glamorous as the Hollywood sets of the Godfather or the romantic image of going it alone and beating the system. But there are some parallels that can be drawn between them to explain the psyche of those who find them as iconic figures worthy of support.
In all these things the worst thing we do is to give these misguided supporters the publicity that will fan their enthusiasm. The Hollywood representation of the gangster gave people more reasons to continue their hero worship. The authorities are, just that, the authorities and represent the status quo. They will never attract the support because despite all the heroic and selfless acts for many they represent the State and therefore the system that has left them struggling to survive.
Instead of the media and MPs discussing the situation and claiming a moral outrage, they should draw a line under the situation, recognise Raoul Moat for what he was. They should celebrate the true heroism of those who have been affected by him and are now rebuilding their lives, and we should all move on.