I doubt that when he envisaged the ‘Big Society’ David Cameron was wishing for the type of community action that took place in Tottenham on August 6th.
It seems that large scale public disturbances are becoming a trademark of his stewardship, from the violence at the University fees protests, to rioting in Bristol and now Tottenham. While these riots may be triggered by a single spark, they are the result of a cumulation of a sense of disenchantment, distrust and injustice. This generation is due to be worse off than the previous one and it is resulting in people looking for the chance to riot.
‘[Tottenham is a] short bus ride away from the fabulous wealth of the City, which is where I work, and where million pound bonuses continue to be dished out with the same regularity as P45s are handed to low-paid shopworkers’
The very nature of these riots portray the lack of focus behind the mob. The Tottenham riot stemmed from a protest against the police yet supermarkets, local businesses and buses were burnt. In Bristol the protests were against the establishment of another Tesco store, yet the police bore the brunt of the violence. In London, people were protesting the rise in tuition fees yet large corporations were amongst those targeted. Too many people are angry at too many things for cognitive and rational action to be taken, and general violence replaces peaceful protest.
I would like to close by condemning the very notion of rioting, at best they are counter-productive and at worst they are destructive.To attack people’s livelihoods and worse, their homes, is inexcusable. For every stone petrol bomb thrown, ammunition is given to your opponents to simply dismiss your opinions.
However, rather than merely dismissing the riots as ‘unacceptable’ the government should be listening to the public in order to find out why people are rioting. It is the perception that while benefits and welfare are being cut, that at a time where charities face funding slashes, Osborne’s plan to cut the 50p tax rate for those earning over £150,000 does little to convince people that we are ‘all in this together’.