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PM shows how NOT to respond to riots

Prime Minister David Cameron stood-up today and gave us an instructive lesson in how not to respond to the recent scenes we have seen on British streets. Unsurprisingly, his speech was laced with ‘broken society’  rhetoric and a law and order response. He dismissed those who wanted to talk about “resources” and outlined a now pending crack-down on civil liberties. He starts from a place close-by to Hogwarts, where the world is divided into ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’.

Back in the real world, we know nothing is as simple as that. People are complex creatures and their motives are equally complex. Particularly germane in this instance are the issues of community deprivation, police lack of accountability and a culture that increasingly marginalises dissent and last but no means least, a shamed and unresponsive legislature.

Having started from the wrong place, it is hardly surprising that Cameron has no sensible solutions to offer. We should view everything Cameron says with great suspicion and make logical points in rebuttal; for example, when Cameron says;

Ministers would work with the police and MI5 to assess whether it would be right to stop people communicating via social network sites “when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality”. Cameron said he had asked the police if they needed new powers in this area.

We should make the quite valid point that people managed to get on just fine organising riots before Twitter, Facebook, and BlackBerry were glints in their inventors’ eyes. The fact that they are incorporated into organising strategies merely shows flexibility which will see them ditched if they become impracticable. In the meantime, people who did nothing will be the ones who suffer. However, the irrationality of the rioters is quickly finding its mirror in the way people are responding. They think they are responding ‘rationally’ and it ‘makes sense’ but it doesn’t. It is in this light that we should judge the frankly, barking, decision of local councils to evict those convicted of offences connected  to the riots (and consequentially their families) from their homes and the call to strip them of benefits.

Even if you view the rioters as ‘evil people’ [sic], this position is nonsensical because it punishes innocents by association. In other words, it does exactly what the rioters did, targeting indiscriminately, but in reverse. It also condemns those convicted to whart will essentially be a life sentence, and it is giving them even less to lose when they finish their sentences than they had in the first place. It quashes the rehabilitative aspect which is at the core of any democratic and socially just conception of justice.

I am ashamed Labour councils are taking part in these actions. If we are serious about preventing events of this kind, and I agree we should be, we are going to have to do a little better than a retreat into comfort-blanket reasoning and harsher policies which inflame the situation rather than seek to address it. However, the fact of the matter is we are not going to do it under this government which is at the apex of the “sickness” it pretends it is the cure for.


  1. Gary Davies says:

    The reasons are complex
    inequalities of opportunity tend to fuel anger and discontent and decades of industrial decline and reduced job opportunities for many(unskilled,semi-skilled and skilled),training and educational opportunities for working class youngsters are often inadequate.A shallow materialism encouraged by mass culture which emphasises the value of things but not people.Quite rightly fascist music(often music in the loosest sense)is banned but some gangsta rap music for example is VERY racist,homophobic and glorifies criminality and violence and hatred of the police.Within West Indian music/culture there is some reverence for Yardies who are not only extremely corrupt(drugs/extortion) but also exceedingly violent.This subculture encourages and exagerates the tendency of some toward crimnality not just amonst black but white and asian communities too.
    Ignorance and prejudice exists not only amongst the white population and police but also amongst ethnic minorities and the politically correct who often make blanket unthinking generalisations.
    Racist society?????what does that mean ????all society is racist ?????
    Institutionally racist ????? some police officers have been found to be racist but this is NOT a universal truth….and some forces are better than others…..we need to focus on problems where they exist YES but blanket generalisations aren’t helpful or indeed fair.
    We need more socialism which encourages a sense of common humanity and less PC nonsense in the left which is divisive and self destructive.Yes vulnerable and marginalised sections do need support but the automatic tendency to demonise the police and make excuses for various separatist,racist and criminal groups does NOT help and justifies the unjustifiable.
    Breakdown of family(selfish, immature and incompetant parents who abuse their children physically,mentally and sexually on occassion)and the need or tendency to work long shifts or have drink or drug problems leads to poor parenting.
    Lack of discipline at home ,school etc and lack of moral guidance.
    Dehumanising some youngsters who not only have a disengagement with broader society but aren’t taught to empathise with the needs and feelings of others.
    Bad role models>>parents,peers,media,advertising,music,gang members etc who encourage low aspirations,disrespect for even the most reasoned rules,bad behaviour and criminality.

  2. @Gary

    Yes the causes and therefore the solutions are simple, and include many of the things you list…thats why we have to move away from the ‘goodies’ v ‘baddies’ rhetoric Cameron has been espousing…

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