Tag Archives: londonriots

Sorry Kelvin MacKenzie, Politics is at the Heart of This

I should learn not to watch anything with Kelvin MacKenzie on it, I often think he could generate an antagonistic argument out of a shopping list, but given a subject such as the ongoing riots across the UK he is in his element.

Like a number of people over the past few days he was spouting the “it’s not about politics” line, before making what in actual fact is a political statement wrapping the whole thing up as criminality and thuggery “pure and simple”.

I’m sorry to say Kelvin MacKenzie but at the heart of that is a political question.

Hundreds and hundreds of people don’t just become criminal overnight – currently the arrest count has surpassed seven hundred people, so many all the police cells in the capital are full.

Hundreds and hundreds of people don’t just lose respect for their community and their neighbourhood overnight, it builds up over time.

Hundreds and hundreds of people don’t get to the point where they see looting shops and having running battles with the police as a fun night out.

It’s also not overnight that millions of people learn to ignore the behaviour of a small group of society as long as it doesn’t bother us.

There isn’t a simple answer to any of this, any given reason can be easily battered down on it’s own.

Poverty and deprived estates? Certainly could be part of the problem but there are deprived estates in almost every town and city, and most were quiet.

Cuts and austerity measures? Again could be part of the issue, but other places have the same issues and didn’t riot.

Poor Police/Community relations? This certainly seemed to be the spark in Tottenham, but not necessarily with the copycat outbreaks.

Bored kids, poor parenting? Again, this has been cited as an element, but most kids get bored during the summer holidays, many kids have difficult home lives, but the majority don’t go off looting.

Gang culture? An expert on the radio this morning highlighted that all of the outbreaks of violence in London correlated with nearby areas where gangs were a problem, even Enfield he said when challenged by the presenter. But are gang problems and the riots both symptoms of something else rather than one the cause of the other.

In many ways, what we have this week, in these places, is a perfect storm of a number of problems and situations, none of which on it’s own is enough, but together they combine.

Far from not being a political problem, this is a significant political problem, one which our politicians both local and national are going to have to take hold of. Making the rioters feel the full force of the law may in the short term deal with these people, but until the multitude of underlying causes are explored and addressed what really is going to change?

This is Not Them – This is Us

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.