Tuesday, 9 August 2011
This isn't a political blog. I'm not really a political person, my understanding and interest is both slight and fickle but I couldn't carry on with normal programming when the UK is such uproar over the events of the last few nights.
A little unrest in the city isn't a new thing and after the shooting of a man during a police operation almost to be expected. When the relatively peaceful demonstration began to get out of hand late in the evening I (and probably many others) expected a rapid response by the police to contain and control the rampaging protesters. That didn't happen.
When the police failed to get a grip on the second night, it was obvious that this wasn't just an ordinary disturbance, if there is such a thing. There was talk of social networking being used to organise looters and plenty of pictures of youths taunting, throwing missiles and torching property while the police were either absent or in defensive huddles apparently unable to act assertively.
By the third night, it could have been scenes from a civil war. Shopkeepers and community elders struggled to chase away hooligans, law abiding citizens locked the windows and doors and sat in fear of their buildings being set alight. Looters blatantly filled bags and suitcases from the shops they had smashed open. The police still seemed unable to cope, barely able to provide protection for fire and ambulance services working to save the casualties of the mayhem.
We are going into a fourth night, with reports on the news of the violence spreading to other cities and the government recalled to debate and sanction whatever moves are needed to return the country to law abiding peace. I don't know why the police have been so tentative in enforcing the law until now but I hope that hugely increased numbers and the support of senior politicians returned from holiday breaks will give them the confidence to bring this to a close.
And everyone is discussing why and how this happened.
It's very clear that in the deprived areas affected there is little in the way of social responsibility or cohesion, no respect for authority which is perceived as having failed, a hopeless outlook on life from lack of prospects and a raging hunger for consumer items fuelled by the relentless advertising by global businesses who have no care that what they are offering is far beyond the pockets of those on handouts. All that explains why, when the chance was offered for civil disobedience and looting many rose to the opportunity, but it's less clear why that flashpoint occurred.
I have a theory; I think this was malicious crowd sourcing instigated by a very small number of organisers, genuine criminals who wanted cover for their own activities, the chance to put small businesses in fear of their existence, creating further blackmailing income and a way of terrorising the police. They pushed the buttons and the whole media experience went to work for them, social networking, television and newspapers shared the message that the rule of law had been overthrown.
It's not unheard of, football violence in the UK, which seemed spontaneous, was eventually tracked down to various groups of thugs who had organised themselves to start confrontations at matches. This seems to be more cynical and calculating still, exploiting the disadvantaged in a way that will only make their lives worse, purely for personal gain. I hope they're found and something very horrible is done to them.