… Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
Christ, what a week. London in flames, murder by hit and run in Birmingham, politicians so out of touch with the country that they don’t know what to say, the public actually supporting police action, me agreeing twice with articles in The Telegraph and David Starkey choosing Newsnight on which to reveal that he’s a batshit crazy bonkers racist nutter.
I spent Monday night glued to my computer, watching chaos unfold via Twitter, the BBC and Reuters until I couldn’t take any more. There is too much to think about, but what I do know is that this isn’t going away, and nor should it. The government may try to sweep several nights of violence under the carpet of criminality but that’s to over-simplify. It is the easy way out. At this point, it doesn’t matter who got us into this situation, which has been years in the making. But if Cameron et al can’t face up to the horrible, ugly truth that society is broken and it is now their responsibility to do what they can to fix it, then they should quietly bugger off to their sun loungers and not bother coming back.
I can’t empathise with the rioters, but I can sympathise. To be young, bored, broke, with no hope of getting a job, getting out, or of life changing in any way fast enough, might well look like having nothing to lose. To chuck a chair through a window could be a ‘Why the fuck not?’ moment of brief, beautiful power. It doesn’t matter whose chair, or whose window when everyone who is not right beside you, right then, is the enemy. The only surprising thing is that there weren’t more people rampaging through the streets.
Some of the responses to the riots have been more frightening and stupid than the riots themselves: shut down social media during times of unrest; calls for water cannon, rubber bullets, National Service; dispossess the dispossessed of their council homes if they’re found guilty, thereby creating even more of an underclass with even less to lose. The official story is one of punishment and blame, but the wheels have come off the spin machine. It doesn’t quite wash, does it, to say that thousands of people were sparked into unprompted illegal activity for no reason? There has to be a ‘why?’