Britain today is infested with a youth culture that, by the majority’s standards, is politically detached and socially alien.
I refer, of course, to the London riots. But don’t allow yourself to think that this is a new phenomenon. The chaos we have witnessed over the past nights as the sun has dipped in London -- and now further afield -- goes far beyond this particular episode and pervades the lives of Britons every day.
It may be too soon to conduct a full post-mortem of the riots and of the fate of the youths who are responsible, but making observations on the general demise of their social health is all too possible.
It has been said that the riots are political in nature; that today's underprivileged youth are disillusioned with the options provided.
Red Ken has pointed to government cuts which allegedly came “too deep and too soon” as a cause for the social divide. On a similar tack, the insufferable Diane Abbott took the opportunity to score politically, lingering on Haringey’s slashed budget as a cause for distaste. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that the riots are simply about a ghostly demographic -- ignored by society for so long -- claiming power, if only for several nights.
I’ll pull no punches; such analyses are not only dangerous but flattering to the brutish thugs who are responsible and morally abhorrent.
In comparison to the youth generation of the Sixties, for example, rich in political activism when faced with the Vietnam War, sections of today's youth are not-far-off politically dead. It is rare to hear political chit-chat in parks or on street corners; rarer still to learn of progressive, widespread movements.
Instead, wide sections of today's youth are concerned more with strict localities; with post-code warfare, quasi-tribal gangs and street credibility.
These attitudes arose long before the coalition's cuts and, looking retrospectively, were in play deep into Labour’s reign. There is therefore no justification for attaching an overtly political label to these acts and we must accept that it is no more than opportunistic crime, bred through a degenerate culture which determines "bad" to be "good".
Take a look at this pictorial evidence and fill in the gaps; a stage for political statement, or simply an opportunity for image-crazed youths to get their feet into the newest pair of trainers? I suspect videos of these exploits will soon begin to surface on the YouTube accounts of bragging yobs, in a similar vein to the sickening "happy slap" craze some years ago.
To suggest the violence is a means of claiming power -- a perverse and overgrown cry for help -- is a further misdemeanour of ignorance.
Ask decent citizens in some of London’s most deprived boroughs who holds power locally and I would stack my chips on the likelihood that they’d point to the gun-toting, dangerous-dog-wielding gang members. More likely still, an answer would be less than forthcoming for fear of retribution.
These creatures know power all too well and thrive upon it.
Apologists will point to the pervasive cycle supposedly at play; no education, no jobs, no opportunities, all of which is said to lead to a despondent lifestyle of guns, drugs and physical violence thus making proceedings political.
I should make clear at this point that I don't doubt that being raised in a borough such as Haringey can be a hard-knock-life and I am careful to avoid assumptions that breaking this cycle is easy (though this article should provide inspiration). But have the apologists, and indeed the criminals themselves, not taken the time to observe that vast masses of our nation are, like them, hard up, yet manage to avoid acts of barbarity? Are they not familiar with responsibility?
Surely one’s prospects are better served looking for employment as opposed to wreaking havoc? (Am I to assume, perhaps naively, that this approach has already been well trodden by those out in force last night?)
With this frame of mind, I ran a simple search on jobseekers.direct.gov.uk, using Tottenham as a reference point. The search yielded 250 jobs in a 15 miles radius, of which there was a healthy balance; from requirements for general handypersons (paying in the region of £10 p/h) through to financial service advisors and retail store managers (paying in the region of £20,000 to £30,000 p/a).
Clearly, 250 vacancies are insufficient for an area the size of North London, even when considered in tandem with various other opportunities advertised elsewhere. But if that figure was somehow multiplied, say through the regeneration of London’s manufacturing industry, would the problem necessarily be solved?
I have my doubts.
Perhaps I am being cynical, but I envisage a larger problem at hand, of shifting mentalities to meet these demands. For many underprivileged youths, swapping a casual, often illicit lifestyle for forty hours of hard graft, week in, week out, is disagreeable with their outlook.
Sadly, for many, it is easier to depend on state hand-outs, supplemented by petty or hard organised crime. What is more, I’m not optimistic that society can change that mentality, at least in the short term.
But looking beyond tomorrow, we have serious structural changes to make as a society. On the one hand we have a welfare system that has for too long rewarded sheer idleness. On the other, we have bred a culture lacking in discipline and in respect for authority -- from school teachers to the police. Both of these areas require serious rebalancing.
This has to start at a formative age, at home and in schools. Parents need to be tasked with forming and maintaining stronger family units and they must be supported in doing so. We cannot facilitate "welfare queens". Moreover,
power must be handed back to the teaching profession and the police force, both of which have long-since had their effectiveness eroded, in large part thanks to political correctness.
Of course, the regeneration of some of our poorest regions – ideally through the attraction of private investment – is a further priority.
But I’m afraid the latter point is frivolous when one considers that on-going events are simply crimes carried out by thugs who seek little more than intimidating reputations and some flashy possessions. For those responsible, the only immediate remedy worthy of mention is the proverbial book thrown swiftly in their direction.
Alas, with a nigh on bankrupt government at the helm, I won't hold my breath.