Blame the evil poor – but what creates them?

Squirrel Nutkin is on TV claiming to know only a minority of Salford citizens were involved in the riots ‘because she lives there’.  No you don’t Squirrel and weren’t there £13K’s worth of doubts once about where you lived?  Squirrel wants to stamp down hard on the riots – and so we should, but already aren’t doing – but no you don’t Squirrel, you just want to be seen saying the right thing we all feel anyway.  Toss off …

I’ve finally found someone saying something I agree with that isn’t what boils down to ‘crime is wrong’.

“My own view is that the police in this country do an impressive job and unjustly carry the consequences of a much wider social dysfunction …   Working at street level in London, over a number of years, many of us have been concerned about large groups of young adults creating their own parallel antisocial communities with different rules. The individual is responsible for their own survival because the established community is perceived to provide nothing. Acquisition of goods through violence is justified in neighbourhoods where the notion of dog eat dog pervades and the top dog survives the best. The drug economy facilitates a parallel subculture with the drug dealer producing more fiscally efficient solutions than the social care agencies who are too under-resourced to compete.

The insidious flourishing of anti-establishment attitudes is paradoxically helped by the establishment. It grows when a child is dragged by their mother to social services screaming for help and security guards remove both; or in the shiny academies which, quietly, rid themselves of the most disturbed kids. Walk into the mental hospitals and there is nothing for the patients to do except peel the wallpaper. Go to the youth centre and you will find the staff have locked themselves up in the office because disturbed young men are dominating the space with their violent dogs. Walk on the estate stairwells with your baby in a buggy manoeuvring past the condoms, the needles, into the lift where the best outcome is that you will survive the urine stench and the worst is that you will be raped. The border police arrive at the neighbour’s door to grab an “over-stayer” and his kids are screaming. British children with no legal papers have mothers surviving through prostitution and still there’s not enough food on the table.

It’s not one occasional attack on dignity, it’s a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession. Young, intelligent citizens of the ghetto seek an explanation for why they are at the receiving end of bleak Britain, condemned to a darkness where their humanity is not even valued enough to be helped. Savagery is a possibility within us all. Some of us have been lucky enough not to have to call upon it for survival; others, exhausted from failure, can justify resorting to it. Our leaders still speak about how protecting the community is vital. The trouble is, the deal has gone sour. The community has selected who is worthy of help and who is not.”

Camila Batmanghelidjh is usually good value.  She finishes with an example of a rescued kid who did not ‘do the riots’ – who was like a mad, barking dog when her charity got him some help.  This isn’t Zoe Williams poncing with Baudrillard, a French dork she doesn’t understand who might have driven his Ferrari somewhere near distant farting distance of the riots and pronounced them as to do with consumerism.

I’ve seen these kids close up.  They get so little they grasp at anything on offer when they are young.  Food from our kitchen, sweets on bonfire night, whatever taken in a manner our own kids just couldn’t do – almost savage with a hunger for something.  Piss poor housing workers, social workers unable to see abuse and frankly never there when it matters to witness.  I later found their bosses encouraged them to lie and that much of their alleged ‘professional’ discussion was vile gossip.  One such kid, left in his druggie parents’ hands with no supervision is now described as ‘brain dead’ by other kids.  ‘What a happy child’ I remember one of the less wuckfit housing workers say of a kid exposed to drugs regularly and who was regularly up at one in the morning before suddenly going quiet as his parents passed out after a heroin smoke.  Others bring their children up remarkably well – the issue is not simple poverty – indeed the druggies who destroyed their children’s lives had an income of £20K plus with their due benefits, benefit cheating, dealing and thieving (that’s more than the average in the grim North and came with free housing).  I could walk round the estate near where I live and point to the houses our rioters will come from if my parochial town is hit.

What I’ve seen in research for my book is that very little good work is done by the non-police agencies, often despite decent street-level staff.  The collective noun for social workers remains what itr was when I was a Plod – an absence.  Housing workers, paid less, try harder.  A few cops are very good, again in the lower ranks doing the toughest jobs.  They are ‘led’ by jerks who bend the performance targets.  I could almost kill now on hearing about 3-star ratings!  The system is rotten and systemically so.  We need the resources out of its hands and to find some honest people like Camilla or the brilliant cop on the beat next to the one I live on.

These ‘rioters’ could not exist if the performance management figures were real.  Banksidebabble finished a recent post with ‘Screwtape’ –

We once had an admiral shot because sailors mutinied and I would rather see across the board sackings of ACPOs, Directors of Housing, Social Services and various QUANGOs then have 10,000 of the looters locked away.  They have stolen more from us and helped create the mutiny.  Banksie is upbeat on a cure.  Listening to Melvin King I am not.  We need a new way out of the fiscal-financial econodung.  Most of us are used to it not mattering much and thinking politics doesn’t matter because the bastards are all the same.  The problem is that their corruption has spread into everything and we can’t think or act without its constraint.  It’s more than the petty crap Gadget ‘reveals’ on form filling, HR, H & S and supposed ‘leftie’ influences like political correctness, human rights and ‘koro’ (roughly, ‘ball shrinking’).  This is all the result of micro-management attitudes and probably persistent in-breeding in selection – we might call it ‘recruitment narcissism’ and it has been studied as such.  We are certainly gullible to psychopaths and narcissists – they are useful in crisis sometimes but destructive at all other times.  These are our leaders and we’ve got that all wrong.

What sort of country is it in which Squirrel Nutkin pops on TV slagging the evil poor?  They were around before the riots doing untold damage.  Call Me Dave is on now trying to take credit for something.  We won’t put up with it, apparently.  He’s discovered we have a problem with gangs.  We have pockets of sick people.  Really, Dave?  In every town, in every estate, in every street (some bullshit) – resource it all Dave?  The police have been asked if they have the resources they need and ‘they’ said they did!  Now he’s saying a dose of parenting,upbringing, morals, discipline in schools, no welfare for idleness – but not anything that costs anything is the cure.  Lying tosser worse than the vandals.  Hasn’t he got form for trashing a restaurant with Boris?  Things have sunk so low Ken Livingstone sounds like the voice of reason!

My thoughts and condolences to Tariq Jahan.