Blue Flu by Peter Bleksley

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BBC Radio 4, 6 February 2012
Set in the present, Blue Flu explored what might happen if the police went on strike. Mick Harley (Jason Dooley), is a dedicated officer with considerable experience, who feels that there is no other way in which he can express his objections to the proposed cuts to the force announced by the government. The Police Federation, represented by Jackie Raymond (Roberta Taylor) are ineffectual in representing their members' interests; despite repeated demands for a Royal Commission, Tom Dunkley - the junior minister responsible for the police (Don Gilet) - remains unmoved.
The action of Blue Flu takes place over one day, and shows how rapidly law and order would break down if the police actually followed Mick's suggestion and stayed away from work en masse, claiming that they are collectively suffering from influenza. The media have a field day, describing in ghoulish detail the anarchy breaking loose on the streets - far worse than anything experienced in the riots of 2010 - and the futile attempts of the army to take on police duties. Dunkley, Raymond and DAC Chad Parker (Ron Cook) are repeatedly embarrassed by the searching questions asked of them: why did they create the conditions for the police to strike, and what remedies do they have to counteract it.
Stephen Wright's production suggested that the principal cause of this state of affairs was self-interest: the junior minister had no interest in the police force, unless it had a direct bearing on his political future. When interviewed by journalist Ian Marsh (Harry Livingstone), he employed the kind of mealy-mouthed cliches designed to obfuscate rather than clarify the government's position. Likewise Raymond made a habit of not answering Marsh's questions, but repeated ad nauseam the idea that her Federation was "working on" the issue of police staffing and/or budgets. In view of her indifference, Harley had no real option other than to pursue his chosen course of action, even if it meant putting his personal life at risk. Although we might not have agreed with him, we could understand his point.
Blue Flu was an uncomfortable piece, portraying a corrupt world in which crippled officers like Darren Woolcraft (Philip Correia) - the victim of a shooting incident - were deliberately manipulated for propaganda purposes, especially when the Federation wanted to defend themselves against Harley. How could he even dream of calling a strike, and thereby "insult" hard-working officers like Woolcraft, who had been wounded in the call of duty? The fact that Woolcraft's accident could have been prevented, if police resources had been better allocated, was conveniently overlooked.