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The Laz Word...on the riots

Mindless thugs, say many, but in a way we are all to blame for this week's events, says Larry Neild

Written by . Published on August 10th 2011.


The Laz Word...on the riots

POLITICIANS – national and local – describing rioters as mindless criminals, intent of theft and destruction, are missing the trick.

The riots are political. Earlier this week the Home Secretary,Theresa May (ater backed up by Prime Minister David Cameron). went on the telly to say those responsible would face the full force of the law.

I bet that had the rioters quaking in their newly acquired Nikes.

The people in these 4x4s were not teens,
but men in their twenties and thirties.
Why were they speeding towards
Smithdown Road and Lodge Lane?

Take away Education Maintenance Allowances, teenage bus passes, make it hard for young people to get jobs – while at the same job put them through the wringer when they go Jobcentre Plus and against a back drop of massive unemployment rate among 18 to 25 years olds, this is what you get, a disengaged, disillusioned, disenchanted, got nothing-to-lose generation of young people.

Teresa MayTeresa MayNobody, me included, would condone the destruction and looting that have made headline news around the world.

But, sadly, the writing has been on the wall for at least a year, all it needed was a trigger, a death in this case, to break the camel’s back.

On Tuesday evening, I headed up Upper Parliament Street towards Smithdown Road and Lodge Lane. It was like a war zone. For many men, women, children and babies, it was a spectacle, an open air pageant, as they watched, from the sidelines, the battle between the boys (and girls) in blue, and the boys and girls in their masks and hoodies.

What I found sinister was the number of speeding 4x4s, with tinted windows, conveying four, five, or six people towards the battle zone. The people in these vehicles were not teens, but men in their twenties and thirties. Why were they speeding towards Smithdown Road and Lodge Lane?

At the other end of Smithdown Road, another carload couldn’t be bothered for the lights to change at the bottom of Grant Avenue. The male driver screeched past the queuing traffic at a red light, and did a quick change into Garmoyle Road towards Lawrence Road.

Lawrence RoadLawrence RoadPoliticos pontificating about lawlessness and dangerous criminal activity would learn more if they spoke face to face with the people in the frontline – the rioters and troublemakers. What has made them do this, what are they saying, what are they trying to achieve?

Describing the thieving and looting as opportunist – which of course it is – again ignores the underlying reasons that have seemingly overnight transformed people of all ages into criminals.

Politicians are guilty of failing to listen to young people in a meaningful way. This week there has been a procession of politicians, social workers, youth workers, experts in everything, paraded before the television screams with their own reasons. They blame everybody but themselves.

 In a way we are all to blame. Hovering below the surface has been this growing hatred and distrust of adult society, and all that was needed was a small earthquake to spark a riotous, destructive tsunami in Liverpool, London and Manchester

A friend emailed from the Far East: “It’s been on the TV that riots have hit Liverpool, are you ok?”

The millions of pounds of glorious and glamorous publicity (rightly) won by Liverpool can be washed away in a nanosecond with footage of burning cars, wrecked shops and street battles.

On Thursday politicians of all parties, many dragged from their summer retreats, will join forces in a chorus of condemnation as Parliament reconvenes. But they are missing the point.

Riot
Rioters and thieves will be punished, they will vow, though in reality more will escape the clutches of the law and enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

Hauling these people before the courts, though, is a finger in the dyke solution. The politicians ought to speak to the “enemy” at the door – the rioters.

So can anything be done? The wounds will take a long time to heal. Even now mention of the year 1981 will generate the response – Toxteth Riots. Now we’ve earned another notch on our trophy – the troubles of 2011.

Why not a law to enable riot zones to be declared as emergency zones. Then give the chief of police, the leader of the councils and the opposition leaders, to ban the wearing of hoodies or any garment hiding a person’s facial features. Take away the cloak of anonymity, and it will almost certainly give many would-be rioters some food for thought.

Face masks were worn by the baddies in the black-and-white western movies of old. Today if you want to make a point, show your face.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 10th 2011.

Fair enough, but when I was a disenfranchised teenager, I didn't have a Blackberry (admittedly, they didn't have them then)

AnonymousAugust 10th 2011.

Do you think that while burning cars they will be bothered whether its illegal to have their faces covered or not?

AnonymousAugust 11th 2011.

It wasn't a riot. It was a street party to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Toxteth Riots. Wonder whether Camerson and Clegg will dispatch a special minister to Liverpool to crack the whip.

thesnarkAugust 12th 2011.

Nothing can condone this Lord of the Flies descent into teenage anarchy, but I agree with Larry, let's examine the tinder-dry socio-political environment that has nurtured this eruption. Expression of societal engagement, are now made, not so much by acts of citizenship; voting, participation in Parties and Unions, but by acts of consumerism. Let's face it, these materialistic criminals have expressed themselves by 'consuming' the property of others', but they are not without their role models in the 'respectable' worlds of Parliament, the Media and big business! They should be punished and made to compensate those who have lost homes and businesses, but their deeper motivations in a deeply unequal and unfair society (ironically and disappointingly, the social gulf was widened under Labour) need to be better understood if we are to bargain a more equitable contract between elements of our society and economy!
The Snark 12/08/11

William MurrayAugust 12th 2011.

Although many youths feels disenfranchised, there is no excuse for the violence and looting that occurred not just in Liverpool but everywhere else. You only have to listen to those parents interviewed in the media to see that the problems start in a family setting. How can parents condone the violence of their children? Parents need to lead by example. People were poor after the war in the 1940's and 1950's, but they never sunk to this level. Whether you feel disenfranchised or not, if you commit a crime you deserve to be punished like anybody else committing a crime. It's all about respect; if some youth and their families show little respect for themselves or others and the property of others, then don't expect respect in return. And let's be honest; a lot of the hoodies in Liverpool, just like in any other town or city, think it's big and a bit of a laugh to do what they did; they think it improves their kudos. It's nothing to do with politics or disenfranchisement If you want to feel like a man, then get a job, or do some voluntary work and get your foot in the door; or join the army!! Then you will become a man!

Tricky WooAugust 12th 2011.

It goes deeper than that, William. How can you go and get a job when nobody you know has ever had a job? When your parents never had a job because they were Thatcher's children themselves. When your friends' families never had a job?

In many cases, how can you be a man, when you have never even known a man? It is well known that a boy without a father figure is more at risk of going off the rails than one with, and the statistics of one parent families speak for themselves.

We are talking about a whole strata of people here who are outside society, whose voices are never listened to because they have never spoken.

Why have they never spoken? Perhaps, because they don't know that they can. People have no respect because they have never had anybody to respect or anything to aspire to and where, often, gang leaders replace their parents or families, often fractured, as the voice of authority.

We are talking about people without a purpose, whose existence is often, although I generalise, made more bearable by cheap booze and smack. This has nothing to do with our traditional experiences of wartime poverty. People then, had a purpose, or they knew somebody who had a purpose who could guide them. A country needed rebuilding which concentrates the mind enormously.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2011.

"In the UK's crumbling cities, consumerism is a more accessible dream than commitment or community": Discuss

AnonymousAugust 13th 2011.

Evict the troublemakers behind all this. I know where they live. 10 and 11 Downing Street.

MikeAugust 27th 2011.

Less handwringing please--No! "We" Are NOT to blame for this , The "Disenfranchised" should take a look at the horn of Africa to see what "Disenfranchised " means!
£100 trainers Sophisticated communication equipment and as much food as they can eat , EVER! Housing benefit and all sorts of help available--If they take it???? No! They should take responsibility for themselves and stop bleating.

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