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Preston United Youth Development Programme: Voice of the Streets - A summary and thoughts of young people from Preston about the recent disturbances across England. shimAdd News407 to Scrapbook

While politicians battle and governmental departments spend millions on producing policies and creating innovative ways to engage with the "NEET” life just carries on for millions of young people, who are growing up with no hope.

Unfortunately hope is being replaced by dope. Our young people are facing some of the most difficult and uncertain times for decades. The recent disturbances gave a tiny minority the opportunity to take advantage of the mayhem and grab what they feel is fair game.

Trying to make sense of all the opinions of the experts who want to blame someone, instead of looking at the root causes of the reasons why our country decided to burn, destroy and loot. For almost a decade there has undoubtbly a massive investment in our communities and millions of young people have benefitted. But as usual those who feel most disconnected with life have been left behind.

Preston Unitedhave worked with young people since 2002 and have benefitted through the massive investment in our programme from a whole host of funding bodies. With all this investment many young people's lives have improved. But has it done anything to really get to the causes of the issues?

This report provides an insight into young people's views in Preston about the 'August riots'

For the report please see here

Richard Caulfield's latest blog: Is anyone really listening? shimAdd News406 to Scrapbook

At Vountary Sector North West, we have been a little slow off the mark in working out our process for engaging the sector in discussions about what our formal response will be to the Open Public Services White Paper (#OPSWP). Capacity issues, timings and even a few oncoming staffing changes have all played their part, but in reality I think we have lost a bit of enthusiasm for taking part in some conversations with government.

We worked hard to offer responses to the consultation Supporting a Stronger Civil Society, and made a considered response. We responded to one question quickly, about the national Strategic Partners Programme, and decisions were implemented on this in April this year - without any of us ever seeing how the sector responded to that consultation.

Now we have the Big Lottery Transforming Local Infrastructure Fund (Office for Civil Society money) currently in process: this £30m has been launched without us ever seeing what the response was to the rest of the consultation. I have asked on numerous occasions - face to face, via email, direct to ministers, through civil servants, with other national organisations - and never had a satisfactory response. I only want to know what we all said and, given that a £30m fund has been made available, I assume there is an analysis.

Then there was also the Modernising Commissioning Green Paper. Remember that? We were asked to respond quickly to that. 'Ignore the compact' they said. 'We know its six weeks and it's over Christmas, but we need the information to inform the Open Public Services White Paper.' So not only did it not need to be rushed - the white paper was delayed more times than a Virgin Train - but we have not seen an analysis of the response. A picture is emerging here.

This contrasts with the work on health reforms. I have been flooded with paperwork, but at least we have had analysis of what the responses there have been - over 150 pages of analysis at one point. I might not like all of it, but it does give an air of openness in contrast to what we see from Cabinet Office and the Office for Civil Society. I also wonder whether this is because the Department of Health are not just responding to the third sector - they have health professionals and others involved heavily in those consultations.

So it brings me to the big dilemma: we often get praised for our events and responses to consultations by our members, but then they ask ‘but are they listening?' Unfortunately I have nothing to evidence they are listening when policy and programmes are announced without feedback.

This makes it hard to enthuse a sector to engage with the Open Public Service White Paper listening exercise because they are more cynical than ever about whether their comments are heard; we will have a go, we will do what we can, but it is time for the Cabinet Office and OCS to prove that they are listening and they are hearing when the sector speaks.



England rioters: young, poor and unemployed shimAdd News405 to Scrapbook

David Cameron said this week that the riots "were not about poverty", but the Guardian's database of court cases raises the question that there may be, at the very least, a correlation between economic hardship and those accused of taking part in last week's violence and looting.

Based on unprecedented access to information from magistrates courts across England, the Guardian's data project gives a new insight into the riots, shedding light on those accused of involvement, from their age and gender to the length of sentences being handed down.

The data also highlights geographical differences during last week's unrest. In London, the evidence suggests rioters often looted shops and businesses in or near the areas where they lived. In cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, in contrast, the data appears to indicate that suspects travelled from their homes on the outskirts of the cities, or in some cases satellite towns, to riot and loot in the city centres.

One of the most striking features to emerge is the proportion of those who have appeared in court so far who come from deprived neighbourhoods.

A Liverpool University urban planning lecturer, Alex Singleton, analysed the Guardian's preliminary data by overlaying the addresses of defendants with the poverty indicators mapped by England's Indices of Multiple Deprivation, which breaks the country into small geographical areas.

He found that the majority of people who have appeared in court live in poor neighbourhoods, with 41% of suspects living in one of the top 10% of most deprived places in the country. The data also shows that 66% of neighbourhoods where the accused live got poorer between 2007 and 2010.

Singleton said: "Rioting is deplorable. However, if events such as this are to be mitigated in the future, the prevailing conditions and constraints affecting people living in areas must form part of the discussion. A 'broken society' happens somewhere, and geography matters."

The findings are backed up by research carried out by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) published this week. The thinktank looked at the relationship between different indicators of poverty and deprivation and the boroughs where violence and looting took place.

Researchers found that in almost all of the worst-affected areas, youth unemployment and child poverty were significantly higher than the national average while education attainment was significantly lower.

"Child poverty rates in local authorities where riots flared are stubbornly high," it stated. "While poverty is no excuse for criminality, it places additional pressure on families not only to make ends meet but also to spend time together … The political debate is likely to rage on for some time but there is also an urgent need to understand what is happening in communities where violence flared."

The Guardian's analysis is based on unprecedented access to court results granted by the Ministry of Justice. After a request from the Guardian it instructed all courts to provide full lists of results for all riot-related cases. These have been compiled by the individual courts and have never before been released on such a scale.

The lists give details of the inner workings of England's lower tier courts and record each defendant's name, age, address, charge, plea and sentence – as well as whether the case is remanded in jail or committed to the crown court for a jury trial.

The Guardian has been given detailed reports from 1,000 cases covering all the major courts dealing with riot-related offences: Westminster, Camberwell, Highbury and Croydon in London, plus Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. Reports from another 14 magistrates courts around England have also been collated by reporters.

Statistics from the MoJ show that 1,297 suspects had had an initial hearing at a magistrates court up to midday on 17 August. The majority of these hearings – 65% – were in London. The Metropolitan police reported that around half of the people who have appeared in court so far in London are under the age of 18. The MoJ says that in cases where the age of the defendant is known, 17% are under 18.

The Guardian database adds further detail to these statistics and appears to confirm that the accused are overwhelmingly young, male and often unemployed.

According to the data collected so far, 66% of those who have appeared in court are aged under 25 – with 17% aged between 11 and 17. Only a very small number in our data were aged over 30. More than 90% are male.

More than two-thirds of those in the Guardian's data set were remanded in prison, with 39% being passed to crown courts for trial or sentencing.

Less than 10% of cases collated by the Guardian were given a sentence after their first appearance and there have only been a handful of cases where bail has been granted – mainly where the accused was under 18.

Of those who have been sent to prison the average length of sentence is four months and there have only been a few fines, mainly involving a group of 18-year-olds from Liverpool who were arrested by police for wearing face masks.

The accused have been charged mainly with theft, handling stolen goods, burglary or violent disorder. No charge of riot – which is a separate offence – has yet been identified. The Guardian plans to continue refining the analysis as more data is collected.

New York Times: Wrong Answers in Britain shimAdd News404 to Scrapbook
The perpetrators must be punished, the police must improve their riot control techniques, and Prime Minister David Cameron’s government must do all it can to make such episodes less likely in the future. We are more confident about the first two happening than the third.

Nothing can justify or excuse the terrifying wave of violent lawlessness that swept through London and other British cities earlier this month. Hardworking people in struggling neighborhoods were its principal victims. Public support for racial and ethnic coexistence also suffered a damaging, and we fear lasting, blow.

Mr. Cameron, a product of Britain’s upper classes and schools, has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subcultures.

Would he find similar blame — this time in the culture of the well housed and well off — for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?

Crimes are crimes whoever commits them. And the duty of government is to protect the law-abiding, not to engage in simplistic and divisive moralizing that fails to distinguish between criminals, victims and helpless relatives and bystanders.

The thousands who were arrested last week for looting and for more violent crimes should face the penalties that are prescribed by law. But Mr. Cameron is not content to stop there. He talks about cutting off government benefits even to minor offenders and evicting them — and, in a repellent form of collective punishment, perhaps their families, too — from the publicly supported housing in which one of every six Britons lives.

He has also called for blocking access to social networks like Twitter during future outbreaks. And he has cheered on the excessive sentences some judges have been handing out for even minor offenses.

Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact.

Making poor people poorer will not make them less likely to steal. Making them, or their families, homeless will not promote respect for the law. Trying to shut down the Internet in neighborhoods would be an appalling violation of civil liberties and a threat to public safety, denying vital real-time information to frightened residents.

Britain’s urban wastelands need constructive attention from the Cameron government, not just punishment. His government’s wrongheaded austerity policies have meant fewer public sector jobs and social services. Even police strength is scheduled to be cut. The poor are generally more dependent on government than the affluent, so they have been hit the hardest.

What Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting. Unfortunately, there is no sign that Mr. Cameron has figured that out. But, at a minimum, burdens need to be more fairly shared between rich and poor — not as a reward to anyone, but because it is right.

Fair play is one traditional British value we have always admired. And one we fear is increasingly at risk


John Pilger: Damn or fear it, the truth is that its an insurrection shimAdd News403 to Scrapbook

On a warm spring day, strolling in south London, I heard demanding voices behind me. A police van disgorged a posse of six or more who waved me aside. They surrounded a young black man who, like me, was ambling along. They rifled through his pockets, looked in his shoes, inspected his teeth. Their thuggery affirmed, they let him go with the barked warning there would be a next time.

For the young at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth and patronage and poverty that is modern Britain - mostly the black, the marginalised and resentful, the envious and hopeless - there is never surprise. Their relationship with authority is integral to their obsolescence as young adults. Half of all black British youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, the result of deliberate policies since Margaret Thatcher oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in British history. Forget plasma TVs; this was pano­ramic looting.

Such is the truth of David Cameron's "sick society", notably its sickest, most criminal, most feral "pocket": the square mile of the City of London where, with political approval, the banks and the super-rich have trashed the British economy and the lives of millions. This is fast becoming unmentionable as we succumb to propaganda once described by the American black leader Malcolm X thus: "If you're not careful the newspapers will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing."

Money-moving parasites

As MPs lined up to bay their class bigotry and hypocrisy in parliament, barely a handful spoke this truth. Not one of the heirs to Edmund Burke's 18th-century rants against "mob rule" by a "swinish multitude" referred to previous rebellions in Brixton, Tottenham and Toxteth in the 1980s, when Lord Scarman reported that "complex political, social and economic factors" had caused a "disposition towards violent protest" and recommended urgent remedial action. Instead, Labour and Liberal bravehearts called for water cannon and everything draconian. Among them was the Labour MP Hazel Blears. Remember her notorious expenses? None made the obvious connection between the greatest inequality since records began, a police force that routinely abuses a section of the population and kills with impunity, and a permanent state of colonial warfare with an arms trade to match: the apogee of violence.

It seemed hardly coincidental that on the day before Cameron raged against "phoney human rights", Nato aircraft - including British bombers sent by him - killed a reported 85 civilians in a peaceful Libyan town. These were people in their homes, children in their schools. Watch the BBC's man on the spot trying his best to dispute the evidence in front of his eyes, just as the political and media class sought to discredit the evidence of a civilian slaughter in Iraq as bloody as the Rwandan genocide. Who are the criminals?

This is not in any way to excuse the violence of the rioters, many of whom were opportunistic, mean, cruel, nihilistic and often vicious in their glee: an authentic reflection of a system of greed and self-interest to which scores of parasitic money-movers, "entrepreneurs", Murdochites, corrupt MPs and bent coppers have devoted themselves.

On 9 August, the BBC's Fiona Armstrong - aka Lady MacGregor of MacGregor - interviewed the writer Darcus Howe, who dared use the forbidden word "insurrection".

ArmstrongMr Howe, you say you are not shocked [by the riots]? Does this mean you condone what happened last night?
HoweOf course not . . . What I am concerned about is a young man called Mark Duggan . . . the police officer blew his head off.
ArmstrongMr Howe, we have to wait for the official inquiry before we can say things like that. We don't know what happened . . . We're going to wait for the police report on it.

On 8 August, the Independent Police Complaints Commission acknowledged there was "no evidence" that Duggan had fired a shot at police. He was shot in the face on 4 August by a police officer with a Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine gun - the same weapon supplied by British governments, Tory and Labour, to dictatorships that use them against their own people. I saw the result in East Timor, where Indonesian troops also blew the heads off people.

The big sweep

An eyewitness to Duggan's killing told reporters: "About three or four police officers had [him] pinned on the ground at gunpoint. They were really big guns and then I heard four loud shots. The police shot him on the floor." This is how the police shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes on the floor of a London Underground train in 2005. And there was Ian Tomlinson, and many more. The police lied about Duggan's killing as they lied about the others. Since 1998, more than 330 people have died in police custody yet not one officer has been convicted.

"Funny, too," noted the journalist Melanie McFadyean, "that the police did nothing while some serious looting went on - surely not because they wanted everyone to see that cutting the police force meant more crime?"

Still, the brooms have arrived. In an age of public relations as news, the clean-up campaign, however well-meant by many people, can also serve the media goal of sweeping inequality and hopelessness under gentrified carpets, with cheery volunteers armed with brand new brooms and described as "Londoners" as if the rest were aliens. The otherwise absent Boris Johnson waved his new broom. Another Old Etonian, the PR to an asset stripper and currently the Prime Minister up to his neck in Hackgate, would surely approve


UN to be told that UK is Failing to Deliver on Race Equality by UK NGOs shimAdd News402 to Scrapbook

JUST West Yorkshire will be joining a group of charities as part of a delegation to the United Nations in Geneva to present a report on the Governments lack of action on race inequailty. UK NGOs Against Racism have produced a Report which they will be presenting to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, criticising the Government's record to date on the issue.

UK NGOs Against Racism is calling on the Government to:
- Urgently develop a race equality strategy outlining what it intends to do to promote equal opportunities between people of different ethnic backgrounds
- Show commitment to tackling ethnic inequalities in outcomes in education, health, housing, employment and the criminal justice system
- Reverse the disproportionate targeting of Muslim and minority communities under the Governments counter-terrorism policy
- Look at ways to ensure its austerity measures do not disproportionally impact on those from minority ethinc communities.

The group the will be expressing their concerns regarding the reduction in budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, as well as around decisions to undermine the Equality Act, including those around dual discrimination.

The group will be presenting their evidence to the UN committee on the 22nd and 23rd August and the UK Government will be examined by the committee on the 23rd and 24th August. The UN's response to the UK evidence will be published on 2nd September.

Commenting, JUST West Yorkshire's Director Ratna Lachman said, "As a Northern organisation we welcome the invitation to be part of the UK delegation giving evidence to the United Nations committee. The Report includes the voices of many regional organisations who have been crucial in identifying the key issue we will be presenting. The elimination of racial discrimination is a key strand of the Government's equality policy but for some time we have been concerned that the Government's attack on the Equality Act, its counter-terrorism policies and the disproportionate impact of deficit reduction on BME communities has exacerbated racial inequality in the UK."

Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust who have co-ordinated the Report to the UN said: "It is crucial that the Government puts together a strong race equality strategy focused on tackling the inequalities that still exist in the UK. We hope that the UN response on the 2nd September will prompt practical ways for the UK Government to work to decrease racism and discrimination.
Larry Elliott: Unemployment rise shows the jobs just aren't there shimAdd News401 to Scrapbook

There has been little economic news for the coalition government to cheer about since it was formed 15 months ago. It inherited an economy that was growing quite strongly but activity came to an abrupt halt last autumn and has flatlined ever since. Inflation has been well above target, squeezing real incomes and dampening consumer confidence. The recovery in manufacturing has petered out, denting hopes of a rebalancing of growth towards production and exports.

One of the few bright spots for ministers has been the behaviour of the labour market. The number of people in employment has grown and the labour force survey measure of unemployment has been falling. Private sector employment has risen, allowing David Cameron and George Osborne to argue that those losing their jobs in the public sector can find work elsewhere. Unemployment has been the dog that hasn't barked. Until now.

Data from the Office for National Statistics was unambiguously disappointing, as the employment minister Chris Grayling frankly admitted. The government has two ways of calculating unemployment: the claimant count, a narrow measure of the number of people out of work and claiming certain state benefits; and the Labour Force Survey, an internationally-agreed yardstick that classifies someone as unemployed if they are out of work and have actively looked for a job in the past month. Both measures are now showing chunky rises, with the claimant count up by 37,100 between June and July, and the LFS measure rising by 38,000 in the three months to June.

Economists will not be entirely surprised by this news. Unemployment is considered a lagging indicator of economic performance, because firms normally hold on to staff in the early stages of a downturn and only start firing people when they think the drop in demand is permanent rather than temporary. This trend has been amplified in the recession of 2008-09 and its aftermath by the willingness of workers to accept pay freezes in return for holding on to their jobs.

But there is only so long that firms can hoard labour. The British economy contracted by 6.5% in six quarters of decline between the spring of 2008 and the autumn of 2009, and its recovery since has been weak and slow.

National output is still 4% below where it was at its peak in early 2008. As a result, private sector job creation is faltering at the time public sector job cuts are kicking in. Ministers like to boast about how the economy created 500,000 private sector jobs in the latest year; what they don't say is that the "latest year" ended in March 2011 (more current data is unavailable) and that more than 300,000 of the 500,000 increase took place before the coalition came to office.

Even before the latest spasm in the global financial markets, the outlook for jobs looked poor. The austerity in the public sector means unemployment among women is now at its highest level since the late 1980s.

The number of people working part time because they can't find a full-time job rose by 83,000 to 1.26m in the three months to June, the highest figures since comparable records began in 1992. Over the past three months, the rise in unemployment has been heavily concentrated among the young, with an additional 20,000 jobless in the 18-24 age group.

What does all this mean? It means that the jobless total, currently at 2,494,000, is likely to go through the 2.5m level next month. It means that unemployment among 16-24-year-olds, now 949,000, will be heading towards 1m when this year's graduates enter the labour market. And it means that the government's austerity programme and welfare-to-work plans face the same potential problem.

Both are predicated on there being plenty of jobs if only people are prepared to look for them. Yesterday's figures suggest that is not the case.


Sex and Power: 5,400 women missing from top jobs shimAdd News400 to Scrapbook

Anew report, published today by theCommission, shows a continuing trend of women being passed over for top jobs in Britain. More than 5,400 women are missing from Britain's 26,000 most powerful posts [1].

The report, Sex & Power 2011, measures the number of women in positions of power and influence across 27 occupational categories in the public and private sectors.

The Commission's report calculates that at the current rate of change it will take around 70 yearsto reachan equal number of men and women directors of FTSE 100 companies. It also found it could be up to 70 years before there are an equal number of women MPs in parliament – another 14 general elections.

Worryingly, the results of this year's report differ very little from those in the previous report of 2008..

Figures from this year's report reveal that, while women are graduating from university in increasing numbers and achieve better degree results than men, and despite level pegging with men in their twenties, they are not entering management ranks at the same rate, and many remain trapped in the layer below senior management.

Among this year's findings were:

In politics women represent:

  • 22.2 per cent of MPs (up from 19.3 per cent in 2008)
  • 17.4 per cent of Cabinet members (down from 26.1 per cent in 2008)
  • 21.9 per cent of members of the House of Lords (up from 19.7 per cent in 2008)
  • 13.2 per cent of Local authority council leaders (down from 14.3 per cent in 2008)

In business women represent:

  • 12.5 per cent of directors of FTSE 100 companies (up from 11 per cent in 2008)
  • 7.8 per cent of directors in FTSE 250 companies (up from 7.2 per cent in 2008)

In media and culture, women represent:

  • 9.5 per cent of national newspaper editors (down from 13.6 per cent in 2008)
  • 6.7 per cent of chief executives of media companies in the FTSE 350 and the director general of the BBC (down from 10.5 per cent in 2008)
  • 26.1 per cent of directors of major museums and art galleries (up from 17.4 per cent in 2008)

In the public and voluntary sector, women represent:

  • 12.9 per cent of senior members of the judiciary (up from 9.6 per cent in 2008)
  • 22.8 per cent of local authority chief executives (up from 19.5 per cent in 2008)
  • 35.5 per cent of head teachers of secondary schools (down from 36.3 per cent in 2008)
  • 14.3 per cent of university vice chancellors (down from 14.4 per cent in 2008)

Studies have shown that outdated working patterns where long hours are the norm, inflexible organisations and the unequal division of domestic responsibilities are major barriers to women's participation in positions of authority.

The British economy is paying the price for this exclusion. It has been suggested that greater diversity on corporate boards would improve business performance and increase levels of corporate social responsibility.

Commissioner Kay Carberry said:

"The gender balance at the top has not changed much in three years, despite there being more women graduating from university and occupying middle management roles. We had hoped to see an increase in the number of women in positions of power, however this isn't happening.

"Many women disappear from the paid workforce after they have children, so employers lose their skills. Others become stuck in positions below senior management, leaving many feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. Consequently, the higher ranks of power in many organisations are still dominated by men.

"If Britain is to stage a strong recovery from its current economic situation, then we have to make sure we're not wasting women's skills and talents.”


Naomi Klein: Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery shimAdd News399 to Scrapbook
I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities—window smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten.

But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion—a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. After watching for so long as Saddam and his sons helped themselves to whatever and whomever they wanted, many regular Iraqis felt they had earned the right to take a few things for themselves. But London isn’t Baghdad, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is hardly Saddam, so surely there is nothing to learn there.

How about a democratic example then? Argentina, circa 2001. The economy was in freefall and thousands of people living in rough neighborhoods (which had been thriving manufacturing zones before the neoliberal era) stormed foreign-owned superstores. They came out pushing shopping carts overflowing with the goods they could no longer afford—clothes, electronics, meat. The government called a "state of siege” to restore order; the people didn’t like that and overthrew the government.

Argentina’s mass looting was called El Saqueo—the sacking. That was politically significant because it was the very same word used to describe what that country’s elites had done by selling off the country’s national assets in flagrantly corrupt privatization deals, hiding their money offshore, then passing on the bill to the people with a brutal austerity package. Argentines understood that the saqueo of the shopping centers would not have happened without the bigger saqueo of the country, and that the real gangsters were the ones in charge.

But England is not Latin America, and its riots are not political, or so we keep hearing. They are just about lawless kids taking advantage of a situation to take what isn’t theirs. And British society, Cameron tells us, abhors that kind of behavior.

This is said in all seriousness. As if the massive bank bailouts never happened, followed by the defiant record bonuses. Followed by the emergency G-8 and G-20 meetings, when the leaders decided, collectively, not to do anything to punish the bankers for any of this, nor to do anything serious to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. Instead they would all go home to their respective countries and force sacrifices on the most vulnerable. They would do this by firing public sector workers, scapegoating teachers, closing libraries, upping tuitions, rolling back union contracts, creating rush privatizations of public assets and decreasing pensions—mix the cocktail for where you live. And who is on television lecturing about the need to give up these "entitlements”? The bankers and hedge-fund managers, of course.

This is the global Saqueo, a time of great taking. Fueled by a pathological sense of entitlement, this looting has all been done with the lights left on, as if there was nothing at all to hide. There are some nagging fears, however. In early July, the Wall Street Journal, citing a new poll, reported that 94 percent of millionaires were afraid of "violence in the streets.” This, it turns out, was a reasonable fear.

Of course London’s riots weren’t a political protest. But the people committing nighttime robbery sure as hell know that their elites have been committing daytime robbery. Saqueos are contagious.

The Tories are right when they say the rioting is not about the cuts. But it has a great deal to do with what those cuts represent: being cut off. Locked away in a ballooning underclass with the few escape routes previously offered—a union job, a good affordable education—being rapidly sealed off. The cuts are a message. They are saying to whole sectors of society: you are stuck where you are, much like the migrants and refugees we turn away at our increasingly fortressed borders.

David Cameron’s response to the riots is to make this locking-out literal: evictions from public housing, threats to cut off communication tools and outrageous jail terms (five months to a woman for receiving a stolen pair of shorts). The message is once again being sent: disappear, and do it quietly.

At last year’s G-20 "austerity summit” in Toronto, the protests turned into riots and multiple cop cars burned. It was nothing by London 2011 standards, but it was still shocking to us Canadians. The big controversy then was that the government had spent $675 million on summit "security” (yet they still couldn’t seem to put out those fires). At the time, many of us pointed out that the pricey new arsenal that the police had acquired—water cannons, sound cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets—wasn’t just meant for the protesters in the streets. Its long-term use would be to discipline the poor, who in the new era of austerity would have dangerously little to lose.

This is what David Cameron got wrong: you can't cut police budgets at the same time as you cut everything else. Because when you rob people of what little they have, in order to protect the interests of those who have more than anyone deserves, you should expect resistance—whether organized protests or spontaneous looting.

And that’s not politics. It’s physics.


Race Equality Foundation: Parenting, discipline and the riots in England shimAdd News398 to Scrapbook

Some have suggested that the events in Tottenham and elsewhere in England were the result of parents from some communities not being allowed to ‘discipline’ or smack their children. These comments are often supported by little more than anecdote and need to be challenged.

Firstly, no one has yet presented evidence that those children and young people involved in the looting that followed the peaceful protest had not been ‘disciplined’ or smacked. We must point out that the fact that these young people were out on the streets involved in criminal activity does not mean they were not smacked or ‘disciplined’.

Secondly, international evidence suggests that physical punishment is an ineffective discipline method in raising children; furthermore, that it becomes more ineffective the older the child. Beyond this, the evidence suggests that children learn negative lessons from physical punishment, including that use of violence in a relationship is acceptable.

Unfortunately, some consequences of this have been demonstrated in England: Victoria Climbié was smacked and it was the escalation of this discipline that led to her death.

In terms of the future, it is beyond our comprehension how a way of ending violence in the streets is by encouraging it in the home. Those looking for solutions to violence that will work could start with those proposed by the World Health Organisation’s Violence Prevention Alliance which notes that effective methods include evidence-based parenting education classes accompanied by effective social welfare.

The Race Equality Foundation have been deploying the evidenced based Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) parent programme for the past ten years. Find out more about SFSC.

To speak further about these issues, please contactJabeer Butt.