Crime and Punishment

Wednesday's student protests in London passed off much better than had been feared, largely because there were so few demonstrators. There is an obvious explanation for that: the fear of the clang of the cell door. The summer's rioters have been expedited through the Courts – no sign there of the law's delay – on their way to gaol. That is why some youngsters, considering the delights of a day in London and a bit of a rammy with the plods, might have paused. Suppose they got carried away? Suppose some SWP types around them started some serious trouble? The outcome might be a few weeks of sleepless nights, followed by another few weeks without the option.

At least with the middle classes, to paraphrase a notorious liberal, the threat of prison works.

A Man To Watch

In the early Nineties, Italian politics was, as usual, chaotic. There was a populist joker on the fringes, but even the Italians could not take him seriously, could they? Carla Powell thought otherwise. Without herself endorsing Silvio Berlusconi, she predicted that he would win the next election. The rest is history, or bunga-bunga, or whatever. The rest is Italy.

Carla has returned to prophecy, in the latest Spectator. This time her candidate is Matteo Renzi, the Mayor of Florence, still only 36. There is one alarming aspect. Mr Renzi comes from a party of the extreme left. There was an earlier Italian fellow who moved from the far Left towards state power. His name was Mussolini.

The new kid on the block sounds better than that, and he could hardly be worse than Berlusconi. Carla uses the words "effective" and "efficient" to describe him. I am not sure how – or whether – those words translate into Italian. But there has not been been much call for them over the past few years.

There is still a huge gap between "an ambitious whelp" and the Premiership of Italy. But Carla's tips should be taken seriously.