Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

9th August 2011

Riotous

London has experienced days of rioting in various parts of the city, there was disorder in Liverpool last night, while tonight Birmingham and Manchester are under attack.

From watching the near-continuous news coverage, I have come to a terrifying conclusion: our notion of “law and order” only works if most people behave themselves without intervention. Once you have a sufficiently large group of people with no respect for authority, the system breaks down and the police are easily overwhelmed.

The chickens are coming home to roost. For decades, social issues have been left to fester, leaving us with areas of high unemployment and high crime, where many people exist without any purpose or direction in life. This situation has been perpetuated by successive Conservative governments (who simply didn’t care) and Labour governments (who cared deeply, but failed to get to grips with the problem).

Now to compound the problem the Government is pushing through vicious budget cuts: not just to front-line services like the police and fire brigade, but also to services like youth clubs and other community organisations. And then they act surprised when it blows up in their faces.

Tough-sounding soundbites from Theresa May and David Cameron won’t solve this: it requires long-term thinking. Unfortunately this sort of thinking is not favoured by politicians and their friends in the tabloid press. We will see demands for the return of National Service, calls for water cannons to be turned on the rioters, and wails about the Human Rights Act. The actual root causes will not be addressed, and the problems will be stored up again for next time. Repeat ad infinitum…