Blame the Poor – A Riot Rhetoric


I apologise for keeping on one track in my posts this week but I am preoccupied by events of the last week. I’m not the same person I was a week ago. Some of the pillars that I held on both tangible and intangible have gone now, never to be replaced.

There is so much I’m angry about. I’m angry that our ‘so-called’ leaders were all absent and seemed happy to let Tottenham burn, only coming home when the violence spread.

Tottenham, the patter and media seem to imply is a ‘place like that’. It’s not like Ealing or Clapham or Croydon.

There is a lot of ugly rhetoric that has been stoked by the government too. The blame is afforded to poor parenting, poverty, gangs – all, of course, present in places like Tottenham and making easy armchair sociologists of us all – myself included.

The truth is far more complex though as the cases coming through the Magistrates’ Courts testify. It was obvious from Saturday that the situation was exacerbated by opportunism.

Police ‘engaged’ in one area left other areas open to be looted pretty much at will. This ‘model’ spread around London and around the country.

Is it a coincidence that the increase in policing came when the ‘leaders’ returned? I doubt it.

As for those following the story, the Guardian are updating lists of those cases brought up to the Magistrates’ Court. It will make for interesting reading but for me, for the moment, it’s all a bit raw.

The push towards taking away council housing and ‘benefits’ from people found guilty of looting or rioting is ignorant beyond belief in my very humble opinion.

Housing isn’t a treat to be dangled in front of ‘poor people’.

It is actually a basic right so is the ability to live in a dignified manner.

And what about those ‘rioters’ who live in private housing? Or is there an assumption that it must have been ‘poor people’ in ‘council estates’ who caused the trouble.

It is easy to paint broad brushes and make easy judgements – so long as they are judgements made by ‘other people’.

Our minds need to simplify often complicated issues but there’s a danger in jumping to conclusions that can be wholly damaging. My concern is that that’s exactly what the government have and are doing.

3 thoughts on “Blame the Poor – A Riot Rhetoric

  1. Really? Making more of the poor dispossessed of their homes is going to help stabilize things how? I can understand your frustration at the government or at least those suggesting this?

    I also find it sad yet telling that more attention seems to be given to the destruction of “property” rather than the impact on people. Yes, a burning bus captures the public’s attention because it is so vivid; but isn’t part of the media’s job to make visible the human condition?

  2. Totally agree, especially that housing is not a treat to be dangled before people. Such a stupid stupid “idea”
    The government is spending all its energy on deflecting sensible discussion, so we must not let them !
    Good Telegraph article, pointing out lack of morality at top and bottom.

  3. Thanks Mike – It is beyond horrific and now it seems to have some kind of contest between Conservative-run local authorities to see who can get the first ‘riot-related’ eviction (Wandsworth is in the lead).
    The ignorance and detachment of politicians is almost painful. People being thrown out of their homes to go where exactly? And the equation of social housing as something to be ‘grateful’ for set a really dangerous set of precedents and make me wonder what kind of society this country has become.
    Mary, thanks – I thought the Telegraph article was good (never thought I’d hear myself saying that) and I think it’s hard to detach the disillusionment and amorality that we have seen from the actions of the so-called ruling classes.
    Not that I was ever a Tory voter, but I can’t ever forgive Johnson and Cameron for not seeing fit to return when Tottenham burned.

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