Everybody I know is shocked by the pictures filling our TV screens and on the front pages of our newspapers this morning. The airwaves are filled with harrowing stories of people losing everything as the mob burned their home, shopkeepers barricading themselves in their shops to try and protect their livelihoods, and kids and young people looting thousands of pounds worth of merchandise from the trashed stores.
There is also a lot of labelling going on, people calling them a variety of terms, but does the labelling allow us to hide the sad and much more difficult reality? This isn’t some foreign invader destroying our community, these are our own people. These are people brought up in the same country, educated in the same school system, they haven’t just arrived, they’ve been here for many years.
So what has changed now? The big thing seems to be organisation. Talk to anybody who lives in any sort of large, particularly deprived estate across the country and there are numerous reports week after week of kids hanging around causing trouble, bins set on fire, minor vandalism. There are the occasional big stories, for example kids in Finchampstead burning the community centre, cases where people have been pushed too far by so called anti-social behaviour, but it largely goes unreported and local. Now, with the realisation that the Police in this country keep control by consensus – as a retired Policeman on the radio this morning said with 30,000 officers the Met can’t stop 7,000,000 people from doing anything if they decide they want to loot their local trainer or mobile phone store – the trouble has spread beyond the estates, to places where it’s impossible to ignore and put down to a troubled area. Rather than torching bins they’re torching landmark stores that have served their communities for decades, buildings that survived the blitz, but were torched by people who are free because of the sacrifices the blitz generation made.
We can wail and howl about these criminals, but these criminals are people we as a country have created. However we deal with the immediate problem, Britain needs to take a long hard look at what we’ve been doing for decades to breed hundreds and hundreds of young people across the country who see it as acceptable to do this to their own community.
Above all we need to remember that it’s not “them”, much as we do not like it, this is “us”, these are British people burning and looting British communities.