The Blitz, then and now. The cause of the first was of course, the Second World War. The second, now being fought out in 2011, has been ascribed by a Parliamentary committee as due to “a ‘toxic mix’ of poor policing and social deprivation”. Another politician said Tory cuts to social welfare were to blame. “The Tories are back alright. Why is it the Tories never take responsibility for the consequences of their party’s disastrous policies.” The same politician endorsed a summation of cause and effect. “Riots. Protests. Cuts. Unemployment. Disaffected Youth. Strikes. Recession. Police Brutality.”
The BBC asked “Was Tottenham’s riot a cry of rage?” citing unemployment in the predominantly black areas which have gone up in flames.
“There are more than 50 people for each unfilled job here, 10% more people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance this year than last. Unemployment hits the youth hardest.” What is worse, the budget for the “youth” had been slashed by recent austerity measures.
it is the so-called “soft” services like youth clubs and initiatives that help keep young people out of trouble and which nationally the Education Select Committee says have been cut more than any other.
Haringey Council, the borough that contains Tottenham, has seen its youth service budget slashed by 75%. The government wants charities to help plug the gap.
Would that alone have stopped the violence on Saturday night happening? Unlikely. If police had come out of Tottenham police station and spoken to protesters would that have been enough to ease tensions? Hard to say.
Any number of things can spark a riot; especially if temperatures are already running high.
When a welfare state can no longer afford to pay out the customary benefits then individuals who have grown dependent on government largesse find themselves with nowhere to go. Some families have not seen a member employed in three generations. To such families a job is as alien a concept as the idea of the steepest descent on the Lagrangian.
One of the costs only now being recognized is the enormous damage that government dependency has wreaked on the social capital of the First World. It has pre-emptively destroyed the lives of tens of millions of people who are discovering what happens when the check can no longer be put in the mail.
Voters who had been conditioned like trained seals to check the box on the Left in exchange for a free lunch are discovering that nothing is free. “The problem with socialism,” Margaret Thatcher once said, “is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
And maybe that moment is now.
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