After the riots… something that smells a bit of class war. August 13, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Capitalism, Crime, Inequality.
Well, what of the news this evening that:
With the support of David Cameron, Conservative Wandsworth council was the first to attempt to evict tenants who had been caught up in the rioting.
The authority announced on Friday that the first eviction notice had been served – to the mother of an 18-year-old boy accused of violent disorder and attempted theft. The teenager has not yet been convicted but has appeared in court in connection with disturbances on Monday at Clapham Junction.
You don’t have to in any sense condone the actions of the boy to think that evicting his mother is a step too far. He’s an adult in the eyes of the law. That he lives in the same flat/house doesn’t seem to me to be compelling as a reason to evict all others there – collective guilt is never pleasant, particularly when there seems to be no evidence of the guilt of others. That the boy hasn’t been convicted yet merely adds insult to injury.
Sure, there’s this:
Other authorities, including Westminster, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Nottingham and Salford, are also considering evicting those found to have taken part in the unrest.
An eviction notice is the first step leading to a final decision made by a judge sitting in a county court.
But that someone who didn’t riot is to suffer because someone else did something seems simply unjust.
And then there’s this gem…
Greater Manchester police had to apologise on Saturday after sending out celebratory comments on sentences from the courts. Commenting on the five-month prison sentence handed down to a young mother who did not take part in the riots but who accepted a pair of shorts a friend of hers had stolen, the force’s Twitter feed stated: “Mum-of-two, not involved in disorder, jailed for FIVE months for accepting shorts looted from shop. There are no excuses!”
Five months for ‘accepting shorts’ looted from a shop? The looting is dismal too, but five months seems hugely excessive. Indeed a custodial sentence seems excessive.
There are apparently some tensions in the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition, though I can’t see them coming to much. But what of Nick Clegg’s thoughts on all this?
“If you go out and trash other people’s houses, you burn cars, you loot and smash up shops – if you show absolutely no sense of respect to your own community – then questions need to be asked whether the community should support you in living in that community. I think that is a perfectly fair question to ask, but how you apply it needs to be done in a case-by-case way. The principle that if you are getting some support from the community, you are going to have to show some loyalty to it is a really, really important one.”
Well, perhaps so, though wiser heads argue that it may be counterproductive to criminalise overly hastily those who have no previous records. And I’m certainly not in principle, or in general practice, against custodial sentences for those who carry out the acts he describes above. But for those who didn’t carry them out? That stinks – and – apologies for the whataboutery, but in this instance the contradictions seems very stark indeed – this from an UK political class who in the past two years were more than forgiving of their own smash and grabs on the public purse.
But if the idea is to approach this with any degree of sensitivity, not merely as regards potential contributory factors in the genesis of the riots, but also preemptively to ensure they don’t occur again this seems designed almost willfully to achieve the opposite effect.