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"In our hands"

Before anybody in Westminster can tell them what they ought, or ought not, to be doing (are able, in other words, to make them feel their usual powerless selves) the bystander has laid out the alleged terrorist, the able-bodied have organised a rota system for distributing water, and the schoolchildren are producing makeshift sandbags.

The real lesson has to be clear and there are serious political implications: people are behaving well because they are taking responsibility for themselves. Those youths who are discovering something called civic spirit know that what they are doing is vital and truly worthwhile. They are not being pulled off the street corners by patronising "activities" transparently designed to relieve the boredom of adolescent existence.

The adults, too, know that, for a change, the welfare of the community is in "our" hands, not in "theirs" - those anonymous bureaucratic functionaries who have become the official agents of moral authority.

Janet Daley, writing about great British spirit.