Friday, 12 August 2011

The riots - a symptom of the death of respect

Policing, for the time being, has leapfrogged the UK economy as the public’s No.1 concern. Levels of crime have always worried voters but usually focused at a local level. The riots have promoted law and order issues to the top of the agenda – in England, at least.
Something will be done because the rioting came uncomfortably close to those who operate the levers of power.
It is one thing to find your high performance car has had its bodywork scratched by an anonymous coin-wielding malcontent during the night but quite another to be confronted by a baying mob kicking in the restaurant window where you are enjoying the 12-course tasting menu.
The unpalatable truth is that those of us in the middle who seek only a quiet life are obliged to side against those who have the potential to do us and our property actual harm however remote the threat.
It means allying with fork-tongued MPs, greedy and incompetent bankers, and tax avoiding business people against youngsters to whom fate has dealt a mean hand. You wouldn’t want to share a lifeboat with elements from either.
I am open – no, I want – to be persuaded it is more than the thin blue line which is maintaining order on our streets. But it does look as though the riots proper only took hold when the police held back from apprehending looters.
David Cameron said the police initially tackled the rioting as a public order issue rather than one of straightforward criminality. The Met’s angry response was that it took time to boost its numbers as the extent of the rioting became clear.
It’s difficult to dispel the conclusion that when the police were perceived to be impotent to stop them, thousands – not all youngsters or necessarily socially deprived as court appearances have revealed – ran wild in the streets.
The English mob has not been consigned to the history books and Thomas Hobbes's description of life without a strong central authority as “poor, nasty, brutish, and short” does still seem relevant today.
The older generation - I'm 66 - is expected to complain "it was never like that it my day" but I do think along the way, perhaps in the last 20 or more years, something has been lost from our society. I fear it is respect; self-respect and respect for others.


1 comment:

What do you think? GC