Ok, seriously, what the hell has happened to Britain? I went to bed one night and everything was normal. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, everything fell apart.
Except these things are never out of nowhere. ‘Broken Britain’ isn’t new. Gradually, things have been crumbling, but somehow, we’ve been complacent. I’m suddenly remembering my dad saying months ago he was stunned nobody was alarmed by what was happening in this country. Britain was a tinder-box, and now the fuse has been lit.
I cannot begin to understand the complexities of the situation behind the riots, but I must admit, the response from large parts of the media, and from our so-called leaders has shocked me. To me, it seems obvious that the first areas to riot were places where people couldn’t be heard. Places where more and more flats were being crammed in, but no more businesses to provide more jobs for the increasing population. Places which were ignored by regeneration projects. Places hit hard by benefit cuts.
It seems obvious to me that if you cut funding for public services and facilities, you force up the cost of higher education so much it becomes unreachable for most, when you pack people into areas with no jobs, when money is tight for so many families and when the people apparently leading us provide no answers, only more pushes for power, eventually people are going to say enough. And when it’s in areas where these situations are ignored, that ‘enough’ isn’t heard. And so you get anger, violence, aggression. Of course you do. And yet people are surprised?
For me, there is a horrible inevitability about these riots. We shouldn’t be asking ‘why’? The why should be clear enough. We should be asking ‘how did things get this bad?’ We should be asking ‘how are we going to stop this and fix this?’
I am disgusted that it took Cameron three days to come home from his holiday. I am equally disgusted by the behaviour of the rioters. The riots may be inevitable, but when a community turns on itself, no good can come from it. I do think that a large amount of the violence is copied aggression from people who think it’s big and clever to smash up local businesses, although the media seems to me to be too quick to brush aside the violence originating from people who felt there was no more ways to make their voices of protest heard. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away. Brushing this off as uneducated chavs setting things on fire is fooling nobody. Somewhere in the midst of all this horror and stupidity, are real problems that need to be brought to the foreground and put right, before it’s too late.
I read a wonderful article from another blogger which is one of the best things I’ve read anywhere about the riots. It’s here, please do read it.
Wherever you are, stay safe and stay calm. And stay clever and aware.