Treat People Like Scumbags and They'll Act Like Scumbags

The police, the politicians, the newspapers: there's no one we can trust anymore. So it should be no surprise when people start to behave as badly.
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The police, the politicians, the newspapers: there's no one we can trust anymore. So it should be no surprise when people start to behave as badly.

Many people in the media have sounded off at what caused the riots in London over the weekend.  I’ll be honest, I’ve got no certain idea.  Which makes the next 500 words very hard to fill.  It also makes it weird that everyone else having a go at explaining it seems so ruddy sure of themselves.

When a columnist in the Guardian has his say on the riots, that it’s caused by the cuts, he might well be right.  I’m sure there’s something in the idea that the cuts in public sector spending and employment have decreased the hope in the affected areas, making trouble ever more likely.  While these cuts aren’t the only reason, it won’t have helped those who rioted to feel any more part of the wider society, this is a problem that has merely exacerbated a situation where we have parts of London with no social mobility, or simple hope, and have left it to fester.  But, when you see Guardian journalists in their natural habitat, in the Rotunda Bar at Kings Place, with their sunglasses tucked into their v-necked sweaters and trust fund entitlement paying for their £4 lager, you really can’t take what they say as having any intellectual weight.   Thanks, my Guardian.

They’re abject disgraces, but they’re still human beings who have no hope

When David Lammy has his say that the riots are the actions of 'mindless thugs', nobody feels like they can object to such a statement.  It's a bland soundbite.  However, calling them this is dehumanising, turning them into an amoral mass.  It's an exercise in abdicating responsibility from a position of leadership.  He encourages the feeling that the rioters, some not even teenagers, are cut off from society.  It wouldn't be unreasonable to infer he’s already given up on them.  They aren’t mindless thugs, though.

They’re people that have come to a point where they no longer feel society has anything to offer them.  They are, for all their faults, products of endemic inequality.  They’re abject disgraces, but they’re still human beings who have no hope, and David Lammy has offered no constructive ideas.  While their lot gets no better, they continue to smash up shops and ruin communities and generally act the arsehole.  Don't forget, Lammy is the intellectual giant who used to boff renowned thinker June Sarpong, and his greatest achievement is getting Alicia Keys to play the piano in the Houses of Parliament.  He has a responsibility to his constituency, and he has given up on teenagers in his own community.  If this is the mindset of a Labour MP, then what hope?  Thanks, David Lammy.

When the man from the Demos thinktank has and says that the riots were started by a generation that inherited criminality from its parents, he might have a point.  But he also ignores the state we're in, where children are bringing up children.  He then gets to criticise young, black men and then, smear campaign completed, he offers no solutions.  His part in this is to sneer.  Thanks, man from Demos.

When the man from the Met has his say, and states that the police have acted correctly regarding the shooting of Mark Duggan and the riots, he might well have a point.  The police are lacking leadership, and nobody has the full details of what happened with the original shooting are unknown.  It might be that not going hard at the first riot was the least provocative thing they could have done at the time.  However, you’d have to also forget that having shot the 'bomber' Jean Charles de Menezes, been involved in the death of Graeme Tomlinson, dragged a man from his wheelchair when he was protesting, been unable to fight their own incompetence or corruption to sort out the hacking scandal and still can’t find any of Mark Duggan’s bullets, they might not be the best people to look to when it comes to offering solutions to the crisis.  Thanks, man from the Met.

I don’t know what caused the riots to kick off in the last few days, or why they continue, or have a great idea on how to stop them.  Like much of what I do, it's an exercise in futility.  What I will say, is that if you treat people like scumbags for thirty years, at some point they’re going to believe that’s all they are, and we shouldn't act so surprised when they act like it.  I'd also say that if you are going to weigh in below the line, make it constructive, as nobody else is.

For more of Alexander Netherton go to www.surrealpolitics.com

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