I have woken this morning in a confused state, my mindset reeling from anger, to shame and despair, I can hardly recognise my country as I scrawl through the news channels taking in the devastation across Britain.
Birmingham, where I grew up has been bombarded by seemingly mindless violence with youths and others on a jolly looting in the city centre and acts of violence in Handsworth. I am thinking of my friends who were on their way from work at the time the rioting started. People who are neither rich or privileged, who work hard to provide for their families.
London this morning looks like a war zone. The destruction no longer confined to the “usual” areas of deprivation, but the leafy suburbs of the middle class. Ealing, where little happens than the odd drunk being thrown out of a bar from time to time experienced wanton violence, looting and destruction. Attacking small businesses regardless of whether there was anything worth steeling. Shops full of baby clothes, flower shops and jewellery stores. Setting fires to properties where people live in the flats above.
Again, I have friends living in the area, one had her car windows smashed and couldn’t get any sleep due to the running battles beneath her bedroom windows. Stories of looters entering homes for their pickings.
Then other provincial cities catching the same disease with Liverpool and where I live in Bristol. Last night we got off lightly in Bristol. The main violence was contained within St Pauls and Stokes Croft, where gangs were trying to get to the main commercial centre. The Police actually had it seemingly under control, preventing the spread of the mob.
I am caught in two minds – a part of me in effect wants to string up (metaphorically speaking) the people causing this violence. It is hard for me to comprehend the mentality of anybody who could commit wanton violence, especially torching buildings where people are situated. To me this is a case of attempted murder – no one with an ounce of intelligence could surely not understand that people could die. Many stories already of people escaping burning buildings with their children.
Many sickening videos have appeared on the net, the one below, just shows the mentality of some people in our society, some would say – pure scum to rob an injured bleeding man.
Is it that some people just do not have the base values of a civilised society? Is it that people are simply so badly educated that they cannot see that destroying the very communities within which we live and work actually harms us all?
An interesting article in the Telegraph today comes up with a dispassionate view of what is happening in our society, which will be difficult for those affected by this violence, to step back and think of possible causes.
The premise of the piece is that the there is now a significant underclass in our society, that have no investment or belonging to our wider communities. That the UK is now more unequal that it has been since the 1920′s. That after the 1930′s Britain became more equal, yet over the past 30 years this trend has been reversed.
Certainly looking at the attitude of people who have committed these acts it appears that they have no connection with the community around them. They see no consequences to their actions. How could anybody commit these acts in a society where people have a stake?
Perhaps David Cameron was right, and maybe I have become too middle class, to see it, maybe we do live in Broken Britain. Maybe though, we have a Broken Britain for different reasons that David Cameron would like to admit. If the wealth created in our society is largely going to the top 10% and the bottom section of our society continually gets no look in on any wealth creation, can we blame this type of lashing out?
Is our society now so skewed that we are happy for an underclass to be left behind, disenfranchised and producing their own set of values to make sense of the world. I do not believe that this has anything to do with “Cuts”, that some were suggesting yesterday, but something has gone badly wrong.
But is this just a load of excuses for a section of our society, who for whatever reason have grown up with different values and morality, and it is simply “entertainment”, to destroy our communities, destroy shops and jobs, commit violence, rob the injured and torch buildings in which people sleep.
Personally I cannot make sense of it.