Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Today's Rioters - Tomorrow's Politicians?

Both David Cameron and Boris Johnson once belonged to a Club devoted to trashing other's people's property. The Bullingdon Boys may have done it only when roaring drunk, but they still did it.

Likewise, some of today's rioters will turn up in ten years time as tomorrow's politicians (probably Tory) and community leaders.

There are really only two ways of responding to urban disorder on the scale we have seen in the past week:

You can take the view that shit happens: all big cities contain a large disaffected underclass of young people and all big cities enjoy reluctant and sometimes corrupt policing. From time to time, often in school holidays when the young people are on the streets and the police are on the beaches, something will happen which creates turmoil. You just have to live with it. There is no quick fix or even any tolerable slow fix.

Or you can take the view that something is fundamentally wrong with your society or at least your big cities. You can wring your hands, read lots of sociological and criminological studies, find a way forward and - what? Vote Labour? Vote BNP?

No winning political party is going to step forward with an agenda, left or right, which would even begin to drain the volatility out of inner city life. That's in part because it is the job of inner cities to contain all the people that leafy suburbs cannot contain. For the rest, to abolish an inner city underclass implies social change (left or right) on a scale no one is willing to contemplate.

So there's not much choice: Get over it!

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