It’s so difficult to get a grip and understand what’s been going onover the past four nights across Britain. There’s a lot of ‘white noise’ out there and trying to navigate a way through that is becoming increasingly difficult.
Today’s Leader column in the Independent makes some sense to me and so I’ve reproduced some of it below. The full article can be read here:
This is a Katrina moment for the political classes in general and indeed for the entire country. Just as the US government failed to shore up the levees above the city of New Orleans when it had a chance, successive British administrations have failed to repair the social levees that ought to protect our society from this kind of aggression. At the weekend, those levees burst, and we have been witnessing the ugly results.
We know enough about these riots and those perpetrating them to know what they are not. This is not a political protest. The rioters have no agenda. It is not centrally directed. The goal is acquisitive looting or brainless destruction. The original riot in Tottenham on Saturday seems to have been sparked by a community’s sense of grievance against the police. But what happened in Woolwich, Toxteth and Bristol on Monday night is clearly not an anti-police protest. Much of it is copycat rioting. Criminal gangs and antisocial youths have seized on an opportunity to run amok, knowing that the police cannot be everywhere at once.
Nor is this a response to public-sector austerity. Reports of the Government’s cuts might have added to the air of desperation in many poor communities. But the fact is that most cuts have not been implemented yet. This is not a riot driven by new media either. BlackBerrys and Twitter – neither of which existed during the inner-city civil disturbances of the 1980s – have doubtless played a role in fanning the flames. But new media is hardly a sufficient explanation for this antisocial spasm. This is also not a race riot, in the manner of Brixton, Toxteth, Handsworth or Broadwater Farm in the 1980s, either. The rioters of 2011 are racially mixed. And there is no overwhelming collective grievance against the police for racial harassment as there was three decades ago.