Friday, 12 August 2011

"Now let's get it all in perspective..."

I'm meant to be writing this week. Only I haven't written much. Events, as they say, seem to have taken over. I've just responded to one of the e-mails I've had from friends and family overseas about life in London right now. It's reproduced below;

Started as a protest for police shooting a young black man in Tottenham- that's not even getting discussed anymore though.

There were people attacking police & police cars
There were people attacking banks and bookies
There were people looting
There were people protecting their businesses and, later, "their communities" - Southall Sikhs, Dalston Turks. Then came the Eltham (where Steven Lawrence was murdered) EDL-chanting White men...

Seems everyone agrees the police were slow to respond, even Cameron. Footage of them watching looters - why? outnumbered? hoping to get proof that the cuts to police shouldn't come? Hoping for support for tougher legislation (which they'll then employ on the protests)?
Rumours that 'rich' areas were better policed.

Cameron says we must be more responsible. He says his policies are not at all responsible. He says that rioters are sick. He plans to punish the sick.

Much twitter talk of Bullingdon boys' 'high jinks' - but nothing in mainstream.

Manchester Police reporting that someone has 10 weeks prison sentence for swearing at police. Clear sense of people being made examples of.

Teachers getting blamed. Parents getting blamed. Hip-Hop getting blamed.

Much talk of how parents are terrified to discipline their children in 'modern Britain' - How people know their rights but not their responsibilities.

Much talk of more discipline, more authority - nothing about more job opportunities, about developing a sense of belonging through meaningful employment etc

Media focus is on looters and violence. Both are very visual so play well. Discussing poverty, not so good for ratings.

Thankfully the water cannons and plastic bullets did not come to pass - but scary times as the mood of the nation seems to be to move further to the right.

Talk of taking away rioters' council housing - effectively punishing a whole family for a crime. Probably posturing.

Any attempt to talk about poverty, unemployment, education cuts, that London has the richest and the poorest etc is shouted down as making excuses for rioters.

Mainstream journalists reluctant to ask politicians whether looting, MP expenses, Bankers' crisis ,  are all examples of seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck illegally.

Much nostalgia for the riots of 81 and 85 - it is said even by Tories that these were political. I remember at the time hearing it described as 'the blacks going wild' but time seems to give some perspective.

Hoping it will again...