09 August 2011


Sheer criminality? Seriously, that's the best England's political class could come up with? Prime Minister David Cameron even went so far as to reject outright the possibility that the rioting going on in the UK might be due to any underlying systemic problems. Say, perhaps, the institution of austerity measures on the backs of the working class and poor? Chronic poverty and underemployment, maybe? A legacy of Thatcherite economic policies which continue to widen the gap between rich and poor, much as Reaganomics continues to do here in the US?

Nope, it's just people spontaneously being bad. End of story. Send in the the riot police with truncheons and rubber bullets so we can all go back to cosying up to media tycoons.

Which, of course, just begs the question of who, exactly, he was vacationing with in Italy. Bashir al-Assad?

Which is not to say there's no reason for the average Londoner to be scared. I'd be freaked out of my mind. But until the UK political élite remove their collective heads from their collective arses, I expect they'll continue to experience more of the same. And the political élite here at home would do well to pay attention.


Anonymous said...

Well said. It has occurred to me lately that The Revolution that we old hippies expected in the 1960s and 1970s may yet come to pass; the ultra-rich and the corporations seem hell-bent on hurrying it along.

Chris said...

Yeah... :(

Tiger Chanter said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you have to live in the UK to know that there aren't any really poor people here. Everyone has access to a roof over their heads (if they want one), medical care and enough money for food whether they work or not. These riots are all about people (youths mostly)looting, wanting something for nothing. It was common criminality. Some people just don't want to work for a living.

Mel said...

Actually, Anonymous, based on a standard definition of poverty as being a household disposable income of 60% below median, the UK has around 22% of the population living in poverty, compared to around 24% in the US. And that percentage has risen over the past 7 years. In fact, the UK rates only slightly better than the PIGS nations (That's Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain, for folks who haven't followed the Eurozone debt crisis) in terms of proportion of population living in relative poverty. (http://www.poverty.org.uk/01/index.shtml?2)

The reality is that poverty tends to breed poverty, and herding the poor into overcrowded council flats then claiming it's fine because they've got a roof over their heads doesn't do anything except perpetuate a permanent underclass. Yes, there are occasional stories of people who work their way out of poverty to become successful in business or politics, but those are the exception and not the rule.

I'm not saying that there weren't people doing some horrible things,or that they shouldn't be held responsible for their actions, but to pretend that all of this just arose in a vacuum is, at best, naïve. At worst, it's short-sighted and dangerous.

Mel said...

It's worth pointing out, too, that the biggest jump in UK poverty was from 1983/1984, when Thatcher brutally broke the trade unions, to the end of her reign in 1990. Coincidence? I think not.

Chris said...

Mel: An excellent post here:


Homer said...

The same thing will probably happen here sometime soon.

Alwen said...

Even pets and zoo animals will work for their food stuffed into hollow toys if given a chance.

But put fancy goods out in people's faces all the time, with little or no chance they can earn them for themselves, so they can constantly see what they don't have and can't get, and then what?

It's like a dog that's had years of barking through the fence - when the fence goes down.