On Saturday 13th August I was part of the Channel 4 debate on Street Riots: The Live Debate. It was an honour to be part of this important discussion and listening to what was said, observing the behaviour of some of the contributors and even having a chance to offer a solution. 

My husband and daughter were mobbed by a crowd of rioters on the Monday night on their way home. My 11 year old was terrified by the ordeal. Some of the shops in out HIgh Street were devastated by the actions of the mob.

I spoke with some of the shop workers affected before I went onto the show. A local estate agency was smashed up. They said that since the riots their busy office was now deserted. People walked by thinking that they were closed down. The lady I spoke with said, "We are trying to entice people to live in the area. But who wants to live somewhere that seems as rough as this? It has affected our business badly."

The manager in our local Tesco Express spoke of how frightened his staff were, and the impact of being closed for 3 days. Tesco may be a huge company, but the workers are local individuals who felt terrorised by the actions of a few people.

My niece spoke of how a gang hid in their car outside her home in a quiet cul-de-sac in Croydon. She and her baby daughter were also terrified.

So I understand the human impact of the situations. 

But I am also trying to understand the social influences that created the situation in the first place. I don't know it all, but I have seen it and experienced it all. 

There has been an undercurrent in our society for a long time. The problems in our society run deeper than just pure bloody-mindedness. Our politicians sit with their affluent lifestyles and expensive educations and they don't understand what it is like in the real world. Even if they can't work, they have trust funds to support them. What makes it worse is that they stole and robbed and lied over their expenses and then they condemn the rioters for looting and stealing. Pots and kettles. I do not agree with looting and stealing and arson and rioting, but I agree less with the way in which their twin brothers and sisters: politicians, are speaking about them. Lawlessness is caused by disillusionment. People in jobs are scared they will lose them. Cuts, cuts, cuts and more cuts. They are still trying to cut the police by 20% despite there not being enough police on the streets when people lost their homes and businesses were razed to the ground. Politicians need to recognise that we are in a revolution. Even when the riots are over, unless the real issues are acknowledged and dealt with these undercurrents will continue to brew and will explode again. One of the biggest issues in this country is the lack of ability to parent and teach children effectively. Social Services and the Government have taken away discipline by telling children they have all these rights without telling them about the consequences of these 'rights'. Part of the rights includes parents:
  • not shouting at them (emotional abuse)
  • not smacking them (physical abuse)
  • not being forcibly kept at home against their will (various types of abuse)
Parents who do these things are often threatened by their kids that they will report the parents and under current legislation: children do not lie. If a child says something a parent is told "the child said it therefore you cannot deny it and you cannot argue with it." Trust me, it was said to me.

In a society where authorities can threaten parents with all kinds of sanctions and even accusations of abuse are logged as criminal offences, parents are too scare to parent. They are told to keep their children at home, but if the children choose to go out, it is illegal to restrain them or lock them in. It is illegal to fight back if your child attacks you. 

I know someone whose son had his hands round her throat after breaking 2 of her ribs. She struck out at him to get him off her and hit his head. She was told that she could be charged with assaulting him.

In this screwed up and twisted and perverted moral climate, we wonder why there is no choice but to sit in despair. Teachers are accused of abuse if they try to discipline children in school. Morals and values are no longer taught, but homosexuality as 'normal' is forced down their throats, even if it is against the child's religion.But then we are told that we must cease to be Christian and allow all other faiths to celebrate their festivals. We sit and watch unfettered immigration stifle our access to decent education and jobs. Parents are not forced to teach their children English before entering primary school. As a result, English speaking children are held back by those who don't understand a word the teacher is saying.

My aunt is a supply teacher. She has said how difficult it is to teach children who have little or no English. People are allowed to live here for years. Given council houses and benefits, but they don't speak a word of English.

Integration is discouraged, with communities of foreign nationals congregating together and turning parts of the UK into no-go areas.

Immigration is a great thing when it encourages tolerance and enhances communities. But allowing ghettos to form and not enforcing a minimum language requirement to stay longer than 6 months is stupid and ridiculous. We are an island and we simply have no more space.

People are sick of seeing how their lives are being worsened by changes. Prices are going up. Wages are going down. Benefits are being cut. My husband works between 60-72 hours a week just to earn enough money to match what we had on benefits. Why work then? Because it gives him a sense of duty and self-respect. 

By cutting benefits and jobs at the same time we are creating a country where people cannot afford to live. People on benefits are called scroungers and scum. It won't be long till they choose to become what they are accused of being. And hence we see the riots.Furthermore, the politicians are refusing to listen to their constituents. Young people, students, disabled people, low-income families are fed up with being demonised and ignored. Middle income families are finding it harder to make ends meet. Yet when the riots kicked off, the most important politicians refused to leave their expensive holidays to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who had lost their livelihoods. Police were left to face the frontline without the support of their politicians and without enough resources to meet the need. The public became more angry, more determined to get what they could out of a society that said "You don't matter any more."Innocent people lost everything and the criminals are being rounded up and punished. The first is tragic and the latter is reassuring. But instead of knee-jerk reactions to the crisis we should recognise that we are in a revolution and that it is time for change and effective change.I am not trying to apportion blame to immigrants or police. In my opinion the blame firmly sits on the shoulders of the Government and their ignorance about the people they represent.Two last thoughts:
  • Taking away benefits from criminal offenders that are not convicted and evicting social tenants is not the answer. If those people have nowhere to live and no money, they are more likely to turn to bigger crime to survive. You can't get a job easily with a criminal record and with no home. It will create an even bigger problem in the long run.
  • Politicians should be paid minimum wage and be forced to live on the amount of money they ask the rest of society to live on. Perhaps then they will truly know the reality that the majority of society are forced to live with.
Food for thought above and I hope you understand that this is my opinion.


    August 2011


    Social Policy


    I am mixed-race ('black' to some people), disabled, female and living on a housing estate. 
    I also have an excellent education, been to a private girls' school and have lived in London, the West Midlands, the East Midlands/ South Yorkshire, Central Scotland and North East Scotland. I have lived in posh areas, and a zero point council estate. I have lived in an ex-mining town miles from the nearest town, and the middle of cities. I have been on Income Support and had an excellent job with a major bank. I have spent months in Dallas at a private university and studied at local colleges of further education.I have been at the mercy of Social Services, faced institutionalised and ordinary racism. I have faced genuine community spirit and total inclusion. 
    I am an eclectic mix of lower class and middle class all rolled into one. I have studied sociology, religion, media, computers, anthropology and social policy. 
    I speak German and have been to both the rural parts of Jamaica (with no running water) and a 5 star hotel with everything on tap. 
    I guess that gives me a wide view of the world and the pressures that affect ordinary people on a day-to-day basis.

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