Those in court for rioting so far included a charity worker, a school mentor, a postman, several students and a millionaire’s daughter…
So jumping to the conclusion that they were all unemployed benefit claimants from council estates was a wrong conclusion. Various of these defendants have been described as “middle-class anarchists” and I would bet a number of them are the usual suspects responsible for causing mayhem on otherwise genuine and peaceful demonstrations.
As I said days ago, there is more to this unrest than first met the eye, including political agitators behind the scenes and the question as to why the police hung back for so long, allowing the trouble to escalate, standing idly by while shops were being looted and fires started right before their eyes. The excuse that they were taken unawares just doesn’t wash.
Within an hour of this trouble starting, there is no reason on earth why sufficient police numbers couldn’t have been mobilized. If these had been terrorist attacks, does anyone seriously believe the police would have stood twiddling their thumbs while bombs were being planted right in front of them and now be claiming they were taken by surprise? Apparently a lot of these riots were organised over twitter and social networking sites. Guess no one in the police owns a phone or a computer? When reading news reports, best to remember there is always more truth between the lines than is ever contained in the lines.
As for this petition calling for rioters to lose their council tenancies and benefits, a few things spring to mind. First, this again assumes most, if not all, of the rioters are from council estates and on benefits. Second, even if it turns out that many of them are, what will be achieved by making them destitute? If they are already prepared to loot shops and burn buildings, what exactly would they do if made homeless with no money to live on? There are enough yobs on the streets out to rob the rest of us as it is without creating even more. And while they all need to be punished for what they have done, the middle class rioters and the millionaire’s daughter won’t be thrown onto the street without even enough cash to feed themselves, so why should the poorest people (with probably more of an excuse for resorting to stealing) receive the harshest punishment?
Before anyone starts thinking I’m one of those soft-headed, bleeding heart libtards, those who burned people’s homes and shops, I would have them flogged and put in public stocks, including the charity worker, the unemployed yute and the millionaire’s daughter. Equal crime, equal punishment. But for stealing a bottle of water or two t-shirts, how is putting them in prison right when 4 out of 5 convicted of knife crimes get community service and even paltry fines? Surely those punishments should be the other way around, shouldn’t they?
That said, just as millions of people don’t suddenly decide they would rather not have a job and live on a pittance instead – rather than being put in that position by the rich elites and big business – so there are reasons why things like this happen. The inequality that has been steadily growing over the last thirty years may have something to do with it, with the wealthiest taking more and more and leaving nothing to filter down.
Britain is now the most unequal society in europe and while services are cut and wages frozen or reduced, CEOs have doubled their salaries in the last few years. The Chief Exec of Cardiff Council received a 33% increase in salary in 2009, for instance, while the average salary for a chief exec in the NHS for that year was £157,500, an increase of 7.8% on the previous year. We’re all in this together my backside. What that figure is now, I don’t know, but you can bet your life the upward trend continues, while the rest of us lose out time and time again.
Going back over the centuries, inequality and poverty have always lead to unrest and riots and the rich west end only ever start taking notice and improving conditions when the poor east end begin to march on them. Fear seems to be the only thing that moves them, because fairness certainly doesn’t and when anyone complains about the vast gulf between the haves and the have nots, they dismiss it as the politics of envy. Personally, I call it the politics of their overwhelming, biblical greed. The robber barons of old are still stuffing their coffers with gold, only now instead of arriving on horseback in suits of armour, they turn up to rob you driving flash cars and wearing Armani suits.
And lastly, look at the example these rioters are being set. Politicians committing fraud and largely going unpunished, cheating and lying and acting like the rest of us don’t know. Bankers going bust but still being rewarded with billions. Police Chiefs taking bribes, in the pocket of press barons and being forced to resign. Over-paid footballers constantly in the news for affairs, drugs, orgies, rapes and violent conduct, living the life of Riley and seemingly untouchable. Billionaires*, like big fat spiders, sucking up all the wealth while most of us struggle to pay our mortgages, rent, rocketing fuel bills, etc, and still put food on the table. If people are led by example, then the example being set by those at the top of the pile is a pretty piss poor one. While we are busy condemning people, it’s high time we aimed some of that condemnation upwards instead of always downwards. The biggest thieves are at the top of the (masonic) pyramid, not at the bottom.
There may be no excuse for what has been happening for the last several days, but the law of cause and effect is clearly operating.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…
*(One of the super rich has just bought a gold-plated yacht for £3 billion which contains 1% of all the gold ever mined. Remember that the next time you are in the supermarket gazing longingly at steak and lamb chops before settling for the cheap fatty mince and a packet of value fish fingers – again.)