Monday, 15 August 2011

Riots

For those of you who have not kept abreast of UK current events last week saw a spate of mass riots and lootings take place in various locations across London. The looters didn't really seem to have any kind of motive other than greed making it hard for the police to reason with them or the public to feel any real sympathy for them. The only reason given that I read on twitter was that they were apparently 'claimin back [their] taxes, innit' despite the fact that most of those taking part did not pay taxes either as they were too young or on benefits.
Apart from a great sense of fear these riots have raised issues with regards to the levels of police in the capital, the treatment of people rioting (e.g. is it ethical to use water cannons or rubber bullets to disperse them? Most on Twitter seemed to think so, and indeed the reply to anyone harping on about human rights is that as far as I am concerned you need to be human for those to apply) and the benefit system.
I have seen various petitions flitter their way across my Facebook feed urging me to sign a petition for those involved to lose their benefits. This idea I find tricky - on the one hand I would very much like to see those involved punished for their actions, yes I have very much enjoyed the sight of more uniformed policemen on the streets of London, but their actions are after all criminal and cannot remain unpunished. On the other, those on benefits are clearly on them for a reason. Not every person on benefits is a lying chav claiming JSA because they 'can't be bovered to get a job', some are on them because they are genuinely unable to work and taking them away might satisfy the grumbling upper and middle classes but will probably eventually lead to more lootings caused by necessity rather than greed.
The riots have also had a positive effect too almost daily I am invited to become part of one of the various cleanup operations taking place in the worst effected areas. These riots have shown that while there is a part of society who is happy to behave violently and criminally in order to get a new phone, MP3 player and, for some unknown reason in Enfield, a new carpet there are those, and they luckily seem to be in the majority, who want to help their fellow man.
Rather amusingly the riots also highlighted the stupidity of those involved; some felt it a wise idea to post photos of themselves next to their 'swag' on Facebook and Twitter. The choice of shops targeted was also interesting in Clapham, one of the worst affected areas, any electrical shop, supermarket or sportswear shop was left in tatters while the local branch of Waterstones was completely untouched. This somewhat hampered Members of the Opposition who claimed people were looting as their libraries had been shut. If they wanted books so badly surely they would have targeted Waterstones?
At any rate it will be interesting to see what Dave and Nick decide to do next which regards to policies and changes in the Human Rights law. It will also be interesting to see how long it takes Ed Milliband to claim it's all the Tory's fault despite their being in government for little over a year and the causes more likely stemming from over a decade of Labour policies.

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