Don’t you know that you can count me out!!!
The last ten days have been memorable for several reasons. England officially became the best in the world after beating India at cricket. A new football season kicked off with the eyes of the world once again focussed on, what I believe to be, the best set of leagues in the world. The countdown began to the start of the 2012 Olympic Games with the London organisers getting fine praise for their work in putting together what promises to be an event of immense proportions, easily equalling those of Beijing, Athens or Sydney. All of this, on top of one of the finest few summer months of warm sunny weather in a very long time. Yet when we look back at the week beginning Saturday 6th August 2011, it will be for entirely different, disturbing, frightening conflicting and controversial reasons. The previous Thursday Mark Duggan had been killed by a firearms officer. Then on the Saturday night about 50 relatives and friends protested outside the Tottenham police station. This was genuine, non-violent democratic protest; something afforded to us all in a free society. Then the situation was hijacked by an unconnected mob. Journalists around the world have been struggling to find the right words to describe the orgy of wanton destruction that then followed on a massive scale. Homes were literally destroyed; businesses burned to the ground, indeed, one building in particular, the Reeves store that had survived the terror of London blitz, was burned to the ground. What the Nazi’s couldn’t achieve in a time of terrifying war a mob of rioting criminals in the so called ‘modern’ world could. I like millions of others watched the images on our screens filled with a gamut of emotions ranging from the extremes of anger to the deepest of the deep of despair. City after city, town after town, it seemed as if the proverbial lunatics really had taken over the asylum. Our emasculated police force became virtual onlookers in the early part of the week having been stripped of their right-to-respect by consecutive governments over the past thirty years. I genuinely tried to find reasons for what was happening. There wasn’t one. This was purely a domino-effect roller coaster of vandalism, arson, looting and even murder, the likes of which we’d never seen. What I don’t understand is the view of some that tell me that it was the culmination of frustration made manifest by an ‘underclass’ who find themselves in a rut of poverty, unemployment and deprivation. Some of those charged after the event included a millionaire’s daughter, a teaching assistant and a lifeguard which simply compounds the view of most law abiding citizens that this was nothing more than opportunist criminality which only served to highlight the ineffectual clout of the authorities to lay claim to the streets of our country. So what are the solutions? Anti-social behaviour orders? Community service? Tagging? Fines? Well, suddenly I find all of the above somewhat laughable, ineffectual and grossly left wanting.