On Tuesday night there was a lot of twitter conversation about expected trouble in Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. I contacted our local police commander around 6pm to ask what intelligence the police had on potential trouble in these local areas. The commander checked police information and phoned me back to say there was nothing coming in on that over the police information channels. Police information was correct.
Whilst Tottenham High Road sustained massive damage (as we all saw) – in Hornsey & Wood Green constituency – Wood Green High road had substantial looting and vandalism – but the other areas like Hornsey, Crouch End, Bounds Green, Muswell Hill and Highgate were more fortunate – sustaining random acts of vandalism and looting on a few individual businesses.
Having visited Tottenham and Wood Green on Monday, yesterday I went to visit some of the traders in Muswell Hill and Crouch End who had suffered damage and/or looting: an optician and a mobile phone shop in Muswell Hill and a cafe in Crouch End. They were all open for business and pretty stoic in the face of events. Clearly – the level of damage was nowhere near as great as the major areas – but the anxiety of the shop-keepers had inevitably heightened with one shopkeeper now removing his total stock to the safe each night – taking staff an hour so to do.
Today – Parliament is recalled. At 11.30 the Prime Minister will make a statement on the riots. At 13.30 (or later depending how long the first statement and responses run) the Chancellor will update us on the economic situation. When that concludes – the Home Secretary will open the debate on the riots.
Two departments will also be publishing at 11.30 information on what measures the government is taking to help those hit by the riots and hopefully information on issues around insurance.
To me the priorities have been clear. First duty is to restore law and order. Second is to make sure that those who committed criminal acts are brought to justice. In terms of roof over head, clothes and food for those who have lost their homes – in Haringey the priority has been to help those people.
And today – I think we will begin to hear the broader discussion – on how and why this happened.
Here’s my two penneth –
I have just watched as much of the debate as I could and while, yes, we all condemn the rioting, I found it a bit rich for some MP’s to blame bad parenting and lack of morals as vociferously as they did, whilst discounting any issue with how society treats the poorest.
MP’s may not have run down High Streets smashing windows and stealing electronics, but they looted Britain themselves and on a grand scale. The only difference was they did it straight from the bank account at head office. Duck islands, flat screen TV’s, phoney mortgages, hotel bills… the list was endless. How many of them received the ‘stiff sentences’ they are yelling for others to receive now – hardly any. How many got away with using the excuse they say is not valid for these looters ‘I didn’t think it was wrong’ or best yet ‘everyone else was doing it’, ‘it’s just the way it was, it was accepted behaviour’, ‘it’s a perk of the job’- most of them.
No-one may have been physically injured but a form of mob violence against the British people was perpetrated by MP’s too. They best not forget it in their orgy of condemnation now, jostling to be seen as the most hardline on these criminals.
MP’s are some of the most priveleged in society, supposedly a bastion of respectability and yet they, even millionnaires, though nothing of systematically and in an organised way, stealing, raiding the till and lying about it FOR YEARS, not the few days we’ve just had. Sick society? Wonder how that happened.
We need a proper and honest debate now and this includes MP’s owning up to their own responsibilities in shaping a society where taking what you are not entitled too is seen as acceptable.
Lynne – you are of course excused from this as your behaviour in regard of expenses has been proven to be exemplary, but perhaps you could remind some of your colleagues.
Well said Nick, but you forgot to mention all the lies our MPs have been telling us.
Everyone keeps saying these riots are linked to social deprivation and closure of youth clubs blah blah blah…..
can someone tell me why Laura Johnson, 19,Millionaire’s daughter, who studied at St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, Kent, the fourth best performing state school in the country, after transferring from its sister school Newstead Wood, was rioting. She reportedly achieved A*s in French, English literature, classical civilisation and geography A-levels, and is now studying English and Italian at Exeter University. She also has a tennis court in her garden. What poverty was she suffering or what did she lose out? What youth centre closed door. ….oh wait…
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2024396/London-riots-2011-looters-court-Primary-school-worker-postman-dad-boy-11.html#ixzz1UkaSX500
MJ, perhaps Laura Johnson was suffering the poverty of bad parenting and the loss of a family who took time for her, not just for accumulating their wealth. Rich people aren’t automatically good parents who instill great values in their kids, in much the same way that poor people aren’t always bad parents. Those with little wealth can still show great love and affection and bring up great kids. If Laura’s parents have not instilled values in her then she is as morally poor as the kid who has grown up with nothing, she’s just got better clothes to wear. A lot of kids crave attention and doing what they did got them that, they just don’t realise the difference between loving attention and negative attention. maybe she didn’t see her parents much, maybe she was rebelling against them? We don’t know, but poverty of wealth is not the only issue on the table.
To reduce this argument to rich v poor is missing the point. It’s how you treat your kids that matters. God knows what was going through this young woman’s mind when she chose to vandalise and loot, but that is what we have go to find out.
It is becoming clear from the stats of the ongoing court cases that there are lots of people ‘at the bottom of the heap’ who got caught, but equally and more worryingly for the government and us all are those in decent jobs and from ‘secure’ backgrounds’ who chose to get involved.
That was the purpose of my last post. If MP’s can get away with it the message that gives out is ‘why can’t I’. If they ‘run the country’ and can do as they please, then the message that sends to EVERYONE is that it is a free for all. Thankfully many of us would never consider taking part in the breakdown of law and order we have recently seen, but clearly a scary number of people had no problem doing so.
Quite by chance I was listening to the radio and they were playing “Gee, Officer Krupke” from West Side Story (1960). The lyrics seem to accurately describe the mentality of those who take part in riots, just showing that nothing is new.
BBC NEWS monday 15th Aug 2011 20:30 had a really good expert on: Professor Stephen Reicher (School of Psychology, University of St Andrews)
He was very emphatic about understanding the roots of the problem and stop ascribing it to purely gang influence. Having heard from Cameron and Milliband, where is Clegg. I’m expecting that he will endorse the need for an enquiry, but will duck the issue in the name of coalition stability. Shame really, whilst out of government, you guys would have been the first to press for this and less knee jerk reaction.
Having said that, and having read the Guardian from cover to cover for the last couple of days, I reckon I have enough insight to add my tuppence worth.
Causes? Idle hands are the devils workshop: With the decline in manufacturing jobs, where exactly are youths meant to go? Further education – you guys are pricing these people out of that option and you’ve got rid of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_Maintenance_Allowance. The youth clubs are not really an alternative to jobs……and why are you making these cuts…..run out of money to pay for these distractions….and why did that happen…. the bankers have gambled it away…..and are their paying for their misdeeds?….No, but in a strange turn of events, the “markets” are giving soverign states a lesson on who is really in control…
Fundamentally, all western countries have this problem: loss of manufacturing jobs, high unemployment for youths (france had their riots a couple of years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_riots). Is it realistic to lock up so many offenders. Even before the riots, UK prisons were operating at capacity.
Police should be part of the curricular in schools. Youths, should not despise the police, but should embrace them, so get the police in earlier, for longer lessons.
All gangsta related videos should have some spoliers added to them to stop glamorising the “alpha male”
The curricular should include identifying true heroes: Ghandi, Mother Theresa, martin luther king – non-violent, self sacrifice are virtues. Politeness is not a form of weakness
The curricular should include a section on capitalism and what it means for the west democracies; that the state does not create jobs, that only entrepeuners can do this….
The lesson should be practical, with lots of visits from police, business people etc. Police should explain why they “harrass youth”. What constitutes reasonable suspicion. Why police appear to target blacks (more transparency, so we need to see the stats). Do they congregate more than whites/asians and look more menacing. Police should spell out the consequences of what happens when you break the law. Teachers should identify those pupils who deserve “extra attention”. Police need to integrate themselves into the fabric of their communities (so less car, more foot patrols and more appearances at yout centres out of uniform)…. This would be another example of where regulation by the state as oppose to self regulation is better (can someone show me where self regulation works)
….Quite frankly, do more to nip it in the bud, rather than deal with the consequences.
Offenders should be sent to Africa/India or some other part of the world where survival from day to day is the main objective. They need to learn humility and to be grateful for the life they have.
Chain gangs – make them smash rocks until they have no more strength (they certainly have enough to kick windows)
Which brings us to what the western governments will do about manufactruing jobs. Since the “markets” should dictate soverieign states policy, I guess nothing……
just to add http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_England_riots, provides quite a comprehensive cover of the riot, for those you who would rather not read the Guardian