Posts Tagged ‘ riots ’

For Want of Welsh Riots?

Following news coverage of the constantly rebranded riots, the general public could be forgiven were they to feel confused as to where the recent (and ongoing) rioting is actually taking place. It is notable that over the last few days the BBC newsfeeds, their website in particular, have struggled to decide where exactly the riots are emanating from. Starting as the ‘UK riots’, in the last 24hours the outbreaks have been rebranded as the ‘English riots’ or ‘England riots’, though occasionally bouncing back to ‘UK riots’ as phantom reports of Welsh outbreaks of violence bubble to the surface, only to disappear again. In some respects, elements of the media have been eagerly looking for signs of malcontent beyond the English borders. Today the Guardian carried this rather clumsy article, as so called ‘attempted looting’ reports were gathered. Not just England then? Well, that is at least how elements of the ‘national’ media would have it presented. Despite local policing describing the incidents as ‘isolated’ and ‘minor’, these were still considered worthy of consideration within the wider reporting of the ‘UK riots’. Yet in reality, there have been no Welsh riots, and without any sense of smugness and without wanting to tempt a heavy dose of hubris, this has remained an English issue.  This though has not stopped the rumour mill, or the occasionally desperate attempts from hacks to create an extension of the story. Walk around Cardiff though, or Newport, an area far more likely to exhibit signs of the social disorder currently promoting the British Isles to the world, and you will find some fairly relaxed and quiet cities.

While it is unlikely that there has been a media conspiracy to get everyone involved, it has been evident in print and television media, that there has been a concerted effort to identify examples of what happened in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, in other area such as south Wales, though ultimately there has been nothing to find. Which raises some interesting questions, notably being, why have we not seen such behaviour in Wales?

Of the excuses put forward for the violence, shootings aside, social issues relating to unemployment and the economy have been thrust forward as underpinning the reasons (not that in practice reason has had anything to do with the outbreaks) for what has gripped many English cities. Yet Wales, especially communities across the South Wales Valleys regions, are affected, if not considerably more so, by the same issues. Unemployment and a bleak economic future are realities of life for many in Wales, and have as much, with the same reservation being applied to the use of the word, reason to take to rioting as any others in the British Isles. Still, nothing of the sort has occurred.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why Wales has been spared the violence, and it is certainly not the intention of this submission to paint a picture perfect image of society in Wales. There are no shortage of problems, with small scale theft, drug distribution and dependency issues, and the same shared social problems that come with any Friday and Saturday night. But the inclination to engage in widespread destruction is not evident, and generally the concept of rioting in Wales is a rare commodity. In the history of Wales, there have been occasional and very localised occasions of race riots, usually manifest in violence against people rather than on property. Those incidents of property based aggression have usually been politically driven, and again highly localised and uncommon.

Understanding the reason both for the recent violence and the lack of it in other locations could ultimately prove to be impossible, as stated above, reason probably has very little to do with it. But in Wales at least, we might conclude that part of what makes the nation distinctive, is a long standing sense of community. Valleys communities in particular have managed, in the face of constant social pressures, to maintain a sense of cohesion. There is almost a ‘don’t shit on your own doorstep’ attitude that has been ingrained in Welsh youths. This might be manifest in youngsters going out of their locales to nearby towns and cities for their drinking binges, but areas seen as local and as ‘home’ seem to be spared the brunt of the darker impacts of social decline. It doesn’t make communities in Wales perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an important focal point on the importance on the idea of community that, we might hope, continues to prevent towns and cities here from following the decent.

That being, said, it is with a great sense of relief, and pride in a wider representation of the British Isles as a whole, that that idea of community is being seen across the country. Clean up operations, vigilante groups and strong arm council views on the eviction of looters, does highlight the fact that the acts being committed are the product of a subsection of society, and we must maintain faith in the positive views of society that can be seen in the aftermath. The positivity of community identity does exist, and perhaps instead of looking for stories of violence and looting in Wales, we might be encouraged more so to tell the story of the lack of violence and looting, just as stories from the news media coming out of London now fall on the community led clean-up operations. In Wales, community can be seen in the lack of violence, and that is a story worth telling in its own right.

London: the rotting generation

(You won’t like this, but…)

So London burns, again, and voices from both sides start to point the finger at each other in a merry-go-round farce of avoiding any sense of responsibility. It’s nice in some respects writing this article, because the events that triggered, or at least serve as a backdrop to the rioting, have long since stopped having anything to do with the initial incident. Yet attention is drawn back to the story of ‘popular local man, loved by all, painted by the police as a savage and gunned down in cold blood’ as a starting point for the troubles. From there, fingers are pointed as the police, ‘they didn’t do enough some say’, ‘they don’t care about this community so they let it burn’ say others, no doubt the same voices who complain about too many police carrying out stop and searches in the very same community – yep, that’s why they are there, because they don’t care… Then it is time to defend some of the rioters. Of course while there are some burning buildings and smashing up shops with the intent of doing it, they are only doing so because of the economy, because they can’t get work, because life is just so damn hard that the only thing anybody can do is smash something up ‘The voice of the people’ they cry, the masses yelling at authority in a vain hope of being heard…yeah, that’s what all that was about.

While no doubt some, perhaps all of these elements above have some contributory factor to play in the spreading unrest, pointing the finger at authority, at the police, and the government and failed welfare and social programmes, doesn’t change one simple issue. Many of those involved in these riots are there because they are enjoying it. They are there through social networks, planning ahead to meet up and have a night out smashing up society. We see similar outcomes from organised football fans, planning their ‘mash-ups’. Of course in that instance, the premeditated planning of violence is part of thuggery, in the case of London, this was simply a cry for help, or at least that is how many will try and spin it. But what underpins all of this, is the fact that we are witnessing the emergence of a generation of children and teenagers, who think that this is the way to do things, that consequences don’t matter, we can do whatever the hell we want because it’s not our fault we are like this, its societies.  

Unemployment, economic hardship, welfare failings, none of these things will put a knife in a child’s hand, none of these things will foster a gun upon someone and encourage them to shoot a twelve year old in the name of honour, and none of these things will force a mob to run out into the street, hurl bricks at police and burn innocents out of their homes. To defend these actions along any of these lines is to set about ignoring the problems endemic in British society.

You need not look only to London to see the same issues bubbling up. Go around any of our south Wales cities, stroll around the outskirts, or towards the darkened alleyways, and the same people are there. A rotten generation, raised in an environment that says ‘we don’t need earn what we want, because it will be given to us’, and were it not to be given, ‘then we’ll take it’. The same lost generation that can be seen charging around London in the name of ‘justice’, are in every one of our towns and cities, loitering, but not with intent; intent would show some manner of direction in life; just loitering, waiting for an excuse to smash something, or steal something, or to stab someone. It has been a slippery slope and Britain as a whole has tipped over the edge. The concept of discipline is gone from our education system, the concept of responsible parenthood lost in a heap of tracksuits and tweaked baseball caps. Say what you will about policing and Government, until families can start taking responsibility, no, are forced to take responsibility for the rotten produce of their diseased wombs, then the images we have endured from London will keep coming back. Not because of race, not because of unemployment, not because of strike breaking, not because of independence, not because of police brutality, not because of unjust wars, not because of banking, not because of anything so constructive upon which to base an uprising. No, this will be based on an uncontrolled desire to damage and destroy, driven by no reason, no logic, only a festering desire to tear society down. The thing that should make us drop our heads and weep, is that this generation is not being discouraged, there is no meaningful deterrent, and so they will breed, and spread their disease further. Like a societal bubonic plague, we will be all be brought low by this, if its source is not cut off now.

Although this article tends to hold to fairly liberally inclined views, it makes no secret of encouraging a right slanted view here. Some manner of parental licensing must be brought in. If that which is broken in society is allowed to breed without control, then they will spread, and their attitudes toward society will spread as well. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that this will trigger some great reform of the way our world works, that out of the wreckage a new golden era will be born as the masses tear down the structures of government and authority, it will not. It will leave a shadow, a shadow of what society used to be, of where aspirations used to be born and were allowed to grow, not given over to the decay, which will smear everything left with a taint of shame and sadness. Yes, authority has its share of the blame, but it goes much deeper than any Government policy or economic boon could fix. There is a seed of malaise in the youth of the country, and it is growing with every riot, and every day.