Twickenham is not a riot sort of place. Thankfully. So do we need to talk about the riots given our comfortable location in London’s premier leafy suburb on the banks of the shimmering River Thames? Not really but we are part of the great city that is London and so let’s make it brief.
Things seemed to have calmed down here in London although there’s still trouble elsewhere. Let’s hope that last night was the end of it. Let’s hope that the opportunists, the looters, the thieves, the bandwagon jumpers, the sheep, the thrill seekers and the kids who pass off stealing trainers as rallying cry for a new society get rounded up and dealt with quickly by the law. They need to know it’s not acceptable.
That’s not to say that parts of London and the rest of the UK don’t have their problems, they certainly do. Relative poverty, poverty of aspiration, problems that successive governments haven’t tackled, problems that this current government have worsened. All may be contributory factors. As may things like school holidays and that bloody thing called summer.
But there’s also the issue of morals and personal responsibility and that’s something that comes mainly from home and not from the police or the government. Some of it can come from schooling but even then it needs active parental support. Many of these rioters have been doing their thing simply because they can and they enjoy it. They think it’s OK. It’s a new form of entertainment that can net you a new TV or even, as we saw in one photo, a large bag of rice. You might have seen the tweet doing the rounds on Twitter to the effect that “the young people of Syria rise up in search of basic freedoms, the young people of London rise up in search of a 42″ HD ready plasma TV”. A sobering thought.
Are they just kids who’ll grow out of it? Is it just a one off? It would be nice to think so but some of the justifications used by the trouble makers are distinctly worrying. If you want a good example of some confused rationalisation for looting then listen to this piece from the BBC in which two girls explain their night in Croydon. For them it’s fun, it’s exciting but it’s also other people’s fault. Other people’s fault that they’re out to have fun? How does that work? And then there’s the rich. The people who own businesses and clearly deserve to be targeted. Budget cuts have probably had a role in this (closing youth centres, etc) and we all love to blame the bankers and hedge fund managers for precipitating the economic crisis but this BBC piece also reveals a little known “fact”, namely that many of the super-rich have made their homes in small flats above shops in Croydon. Ye gads!
There’s already endless punditry on the TV, radio and internet on the causes of the trouble. And plenty of fingers pointing in the direction of social media tools for helping it on its way. But the whole sorry mess has also shown local communities coming together, including via social media, to say “enough” and to clean up their streets. And we should look to that for inspiration as much as we look at the rioters and despair.
And your solution is what?