Why? Well first of all, our governments have ceased to bear any recognition with the people they are supposed to represent. They hardly seem to try anymore. In what parallel universe can a front-bench of production-line public-school boys be said to be the representatives of the British people? There is even just one woman on the front-bench, in a country of at least 50% women. Not that the opposition can be said to be truly represent the UK either. Parliament is now made up of a so-called ‘political-class’, most of those in it have no experience of work outside the Westminster bubble and politics. For some reason, politicians appear to think that this doesn’t matter. It does and the rest of us know it does.
When asked difficult questions politicians will begin with insincere platitudes and if pressed, they will move onto obfu-speak; some random statistics perhaps, blaming the opposition. Finally, they will resort to language that only the political elite can possibly understand, full of acronyms, etc. Politicians should not be allowed to get away with this. They are supposed to represent you and me. If they can’t communicate with the general public, they should find another line of work.
The riots actually tell us that our political system is irrelevant to a large number of people in this country. The fault isn’t with the people, it is with our politicians. The media tells us that the expenses scandal is to blame for the lack of confidence in politicians, but it goes deeper than that. Look at parliament, and then look at the people of this country. There is not even a cosmetic similarity. This isn’t a democracy and our political system is bankrupt.
This is a country where the Human Rights Act is under debate. Does this make any sense? If a person is against the human-rights of another human-being that person ought to be ashamed and should lack all credibility, but instead they are taken seriously. The minimum-wage is also being undermined and phased-out. In any decent society this should be unthinkable and, in fact, by this stage we ought to have a living-wage in the UK. The clue is in the title LIVING-wage. We all have the right to earn a living, not a mere subsistence.
While we have politicians and corporations debating whether we should have rights, let alone be paid a decent wage, we are force-fed advertising and ‘reality’ shows, often simultaneously. We are encouraged to live like celebrities even if very few of us can afford it. I, for instance, have never owned a car and don’t really want to, but am often led to believe that this makes me less of a person. We are all led to believe that this we are deficient in some way if we don’t own the latest luxury item. How are people who are marginalised anyway meant to feel about this?
We live in a culture that now values possessions way more than community. Our politicians and our media constantly emphasise the importance of “consumer spending” and “economic growth” above everything else. There is little mention of how we return hope to people who have been abandoned by politics (and everybody else) for decades.
What amazes me is that supposedly intelligent people are blaming ‘liberal’ attitudes for the riots. Neo-liberal more like. In a throwaway culture that respects nothing but greed, possessions, labels and consumerism, is it any wonder that people feel they have a right to take what they want? They have witnessed their so-called betters doing it for as long as they remember.
And as for shock. The thing that most shocked me about the riots is that many people who I used to respect started to label people as ‘thugs’ and ‘worthless’ – something I’m used to hearing from those I’ve been fighting against all my life.