Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Mebyon Kernow comment on recent spate of riots

In my column in today's Cornish Guardian, I comment on the disorder that recently broke out in a number of cities. The article was written four-five days ago and is as below:

We have all seen, on television and in the printed press, the truly shocking images of the recent rioting in English cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester.

I find it extremely difficult to comprehend why so many young people can resort to such mindless violence.

The destruction of property, the loss of so many businesses and homes, and the resultant death of a number of men, is a national tragedy. And it is unbelievable that many of the rioters simply saw the disorder as a materialistic opportunity to loot shops – to steal everything from TV sets to clothing – something that the Prime Minister rightly condemned as “criminality, pure and simple.”

The leaders of both the Coalition and the Opposition are also correct that the immediate priority for the UK Government must be to restore order to the streets, and to prevent further violence and rioting from erupting in the near-future.

The behaviour of the rioters cannot be excused in any way, and it is to be welcomed that those individuals arrested and convicted are being dealt with severely by the justice system.

This is an important part of the short-term response, but I find it disconcerting that high-ranking politicians in the Coalition have attempted to blame the Police for the way that they handled the unrest.

Now is also not the time for knee-jerk reactions, such as those of Wandsworth Council which has already started proceedings to evict one mother and her young daughter from a council house because her teenage son has been charged – but not yet convicted – of taking part in the riots.

It is my view that the Coalition Government needs to promote a wideranging and thoughtful debate about what is clearly a complicated situation, properly investigating what caused the riots, why the violence broke out and what should be done now.

I believe that the Government needs to be asking why so many, mostly young, people feel so disaffected and alienated from society that they can engage in such destructive behaviour without giving thought to the consequences.

Much of the violence was in areas with widespread poverty, and Cameron and others need to be asking to what degree inequality and a lack of opportunity have allowed such disaffection to fester.

And they need to be asking whether government cuts in funding to local councils, the Police and numerous voluntary and other groups - which is predicted to lead to the widespread closure of community and youth facilities - will make British Society even less equal and more fractured.

No comments: