Besmirching the good name of rioting

Posted on August 9, 2011

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I can sort of get why there was unrest in London. A policeman shot another guy, and there was a protest, and people supposedly got angry. But that was Saturday night. It’s now Tuesday morning, and all the pictures are showing residential premises (homes, that is, with people in them) being set on fire and shops (but only the shops with the expensive stuff in) being looted.

I don’t get why people are rioting in Liverpool and Birmingham and Bristol. As far as I’m aware, no-one shot someone there. That’s just opportunistic troublemaking.

Congratulations, you’ve managed to turn everyone against the concept of peaceful protest.

Perhaps everyone’s rioting because they took a look at the CAC40 and the DAX dropping 5% a piece, or the FTSE losing $46 billion in a day yesterday. Somehow, though, I doubt that they keep up with the markets. I think people just wanted a telly and a yen to make good on their long-held dream to set stuff on fire.

Worryingly (and I say this as someone who is politically unbiased and doesn’t ascribe to a single political party), people seem more willing to pass over blaming those who went out on the streets and place the blame for all this at the feet of the Tory Government.

They’ve done an awful lot wrong, true, but I don’t really think they can be blamed for this. After all, it’s not Boris Johnson caving in the window of a Curry’s Digital with a bin, or George Osborne setting fire to people’s houses (though there’s a valid argument that metaphorically he is). You’re not seeing Eric Pickles legging it with a 42′ widescreen TV down Clapham High Street.

And of course, the costs of sending policemen in riot gear and paying them overtime is definitely helping the economy (if that’s the reason that’s currently being claimed as the driver of the mindless violence). Paying for all the water to tamp down the smouldering buildings, too. I guess you could make an argument that paying builders is injecting money into the economy, but the loss of high-value TVs and electrical equipment counteracts that. Plus there are the hospital bills and insurance claims for those injured and those whose lives have been ruined.

It just doesn’t add up. So stop. I would try and be more eloquent, but really, this woman in Hackney has it all said:

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