London – Some thoughts and hopes


I didn’t sleep  much last night. Or the night before. Or the night before that. My city is burning. There is a tangible fear in the air. I’m not above it because I feel it and I see it.

I don’t want to listen to politicians being parachuted in (when they finally arrive back in the country) to talk about mindless violence and talking to ‘community leaders’.  ‘Community leaders’ who are self-appointed and seem to want to polarise and divide rather than come together and heal.

Don’t speak to community leaders, come and speak to me. Come and speak to people like me who just want to find ways for sense and our voice to be heard. I’m just as much a part of this community as ‘church leaders’. Why are they credited with greater access to the ‘influential’.

I want people who live here and love this city to find ways to heal her and pull her together. I don’t want the same ‘community leaders’ speaking to the same ‘politicians’ trying to build up their own special interests and agendas.

I want to shout and scream and rage at all those who seem hell-bent on destruction but this is a symptom not a cause.

This is and never was about race. This is about age and belonging. How can you care for a society when society cares nothing for you?

This is a disaffected youth who are devoid of a moral compass because our society values goods and monetary worth over basic humanity. This is what has been learnt. The ‘establishment’ doesn’t work for you but against you. You take what you can.

Perhaps though, these awful scenes and desperate situations will provide an opportunity to build a better society for everyone and to reach out to disaffected youth and marginalised people.

Maybe, this will be the way to build a real, true community and to build a better London.

I love this city. I was born here. It’s my home. It has its rough and smooth.  But it is a good place and it is filled with good people. There are enough of us here to force a triumph for the good.

8 thoughts on “London – Some thoughts and hopes

  1. “People are acting like the markets. Sensing a weakness in the establishment, they exploit it. They are in “shorting” the law”.

    “There are feral children on the streets, where are their parents?” This one would be funny if it were not so so sad.

    This scares me and am a long way from London, am scared also that violence will be met with state violence eg water canon/army.

    Yes, whats happening is very wrong/criminal but its not happenning in a void, we have a very sick society and these are some of the symptoms.

  2. I think this is an inspiring piece of writing which reflects exactly how I feel (I have lived in Stoke Newington for 32 years)

  3. Cb, hope you’re ok. I have folk down in London and am worried for them. Keep safe,

    Julie

  4. Used to live round the corner from where the Toxteth riots of 1982 did most damage. This was in the 90s and the visible scars were still being patched up: often with significant investment in building and community infrastructure. Very depressed to hear there was destructive violence there in those same streets last night. Hope things haven’t been set back too far.

    Your blog and some of the comments are I think more insightful than a lot of media comment.

    There is something a little different about this disorder to other recent outbreaks. Dare I say that it has a more ‘American’ feel to it? (Nakedly self-interested acquisition and a strong element of simply flaunting rather than disputing authority). I have heard people who live closer to these areas than I do vox-popping about Police provocation and marginalisation of people on the basis of race as a catalyst to this disorder. I daresay these are very real facts of life for many people and should never be discounted, but wonder if CB and Mary’s comments about youth being bored, disaffected, poorly socialised and simply taking their chance to have a go might in the long term prove to be more informed comments? There’s a strong copy-cat element in this disorder. I’m wondering if youths in other towns and cities that have seen disorder in the past decade might feel the need to join in? (Cardiff, various northern towns and my old home town, Wrexham.)

    I just heard on the news, two teenage girls who’d been peripherally involved being interviewed about the disorder. I’m sure they were taking the pee and and enjoying the attention but all the same seemed to struggle to identify the political complexion of the government before deciding it was all ‘to show’ the government and ‘rich people’ that ‘we do what we like’. I don’t think they’d any idea about the initially peaceful demonstration about the man who was shot by Police. They were clearer in saying they’d simply enjoyed participating in what they seemed to regard as a street festival. I know these interviews are heavily edited and the more blood curdling ones make better copy but I wonder if boredom and aimlessness have a lot to do with the restless and elusive way these events are happening? Underemployed young people are of course a big factor in the mobilisation of discontent against cuts in Spain and Greece. The protesters I’ve heard quoted in the media from those countries sounded more focussed and articulate.

    Take your point about ‘community leaders’. The assumptions behind this term always struck me as just as quaintly colonial and a little patronising if not outrightly racist. Are we supposed to assume that people whose folks arrived a little more recently are still stuck in village life, don’t participate in wider society, can’t use normal democratic structures and need a chief or head man to talk for them? (Or at least to talk to the District Commissioner on their behalf). As a white Welshman I wonder who my ‘community leaders’ are supposed to be? Probably Max Boyce and the Archdruid.

  5. Just read Cameron’s rather pompous and tedious comments on the riots. Apparently:

    ‘There are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but are frankly sick.’

    Nice neutral language there.

    Now I wonder where these ‘pockets’ might be and what sort of people might live there? Probably not Dave’s sort of people I’d guess.

    I had rather hoped he’d got over the ‘broken Britain’ thing as tabloid endorsed pre- election guff, but apparently not.

    In view of the fact that much academic opinion about riots holds that by and large they take place in unequal societies, is this sort of rhetoric likely to assist to to entrench feelings of exclusion.

    I don’t suppose it really matter as long as the Daily Mail approves.

    Had hoped for some even-handed statesman-like behaviour providing leadership and binding up wounds, that sort of thing, but I suppose labelling people and groups as deviant and sick is a little easier than talking about how government policy might have opened the cracks up. Mr Cameron is a bit of a class warrior isn’t he?

  6. Thank you all for your comments. I’m sorry for not replying to each individually but I really appreciate the input and thoughts behind each one.

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