Wednesday, 10 August 2011

#LondonRiots #Londontalksbollocks #Barnet #Brentcross

It's always someone else's fault isn't it. It's always someone elses children. It's all the fault of the parents. It's all the fault of society. It's always the fault of the Police for not "getting stuck in". It's always the fault of David Cameron for not coming home from holiday. There's only one person who is totally exhonourated of all blame for the #Londonriots. Can you guess who that is?

Round this neck of the woods there's a pretty cool blog called "Broken Barnet". Strangely enough, Barnet appears to be one of the less broken parts of London right now. Far less Broken than Tottenham or Clapham. I'm just waiting for the first local Tory to say that this is because they've done a marvellous job. Luckily for us, the demographics of our Borough, are such that we are not well set up for rioting. Our biggest shopping centre, Brent Cross is not really close enough to any of the usual hotbeds of rioters that cause such problems elsewhere. The big Council Estates, such as Burnt Oak and Grahame Park are not particularly close to easily robbable shopping centres full of large chains selling designer goods. I heard a couple of likely lads on the 302 bus saying that Burnt Oak had been spared the rampage "because there's nothing worth nicking down there"(I suspect they were only semi joking).

As I heard the conversation, it became pretty apparent that there is a perception that "robbing shops" is OK. That all shopkeepers are rich, so it doesn't matter. There seems to be a perception that if you can nick stuff and get away with it, that is OK. Is this attitude reflective of youth today generally? I happen to believe that it's not. I don't even believe that it is reflective of the majority of the young people who are looting. Sadly, I believe that many young people feel incredible peer pressure to "belong" to the groups that are causing the problems.

Over the last year, I've been involved in a youth project at our studios, where we've got some of the most troubled young people in Barnet (NEET kids, to use the lovely Council term) involved in music making. The 10 week courses has resulted in a massive change in the attitudes of those taking part. just developing some self confidence has massively changed their perspective on life. I happen to believe that EVERY rioter has been failed by the last 30 years worth of political leadership. I am one of those namby pamby doo gooders who believe that nearly all of us are basically good, some of us just never have the chance to show it. I've had my doubts, but the sound school project reinforced this belief.

One of my daughters was telling me that someone she knows has been excluded from school. What for? Smoking Pot in the woods. Has the school done the right thing? Expelling someone for indulging in a form of self harm? I don't think so. Who is a 14 year old, who goes to the woods to smoke pot in school time harmed? As I see it, they've only harmed themselves. They are damaging their education. How has the school responded? By damaging it even more. By stigmatising the young person what have they done? This scenario is repeated all over the country. A results obsessed educational system has thrown such kids to the wolves. Once you have been turfed out, where do you go? What are your prospects? What happens next?

Sadly many young people decide that drugs are the solution to a bad situation. These days kids are given education about the subject, but what exactly are they being told? Take cannabis for example and it's preferred current form - Skunk weed. Why should a 14 year old steer clear of it? It might make you suffer from mental illness? Well most 14 year olds know people who are smoking it who clearly are perfectly sane. As a result they don't believe the literature. For some formerly high achieving pupils, skunk starts a rapid decline in marks, but what do you tell the kid who was low achieving already? When they find they can make decent money dealing to classmates, how do you discourage them? I don't pretend to know the answers, but we'd better start trying to find them, because if we don't the situation will only get worse. One thing is clear to me. The cuts in funding for youth projects is sending all of the wrong messages. The devil makes work for idle hands. Every teenager who can no longer go to whatever scheme they were participating in, is potentially bored, bitter and disaffected. The last thing I'd ever do is condone vandalism and robbery, but we need to support our youth, otherwise the dark voices which seduce them into such activities have free reign.

So who do I blame for the #Londonriots -  I blame the whole f***ing lot of us. Those who do it, because they know it's wrong, no matter what they say, those who have let the situation develop and yes, you and me brother for not doing everything we possibly could to stop elitism in schools, destruction of youth schemes, closure of libraries, marginalisation of those on the edge of society.

And I will leave all you smug Barnet Councillors with this thought. I believe that the reason Brent Cross Shopping Centre wasn't trashed and burnt to the ground on Sunday was because there wasn't a huge number of disaffected people in awful "social housing" living on top of it. Anyone who has seen the plans for the Brent Cross redevelopment, will not need a crystal ball to see what will happen, if we have riots in 10 year time once the rabbit hutch flats have been built next door to it. It is a disaster waiting to happen and if you can't see that after this last week, you ain't fit to hold public office.


Mr Mustard said...

Hi Roger, this is a very difficult issue. I think that Barnet was partly lucky because our neer-do-wells were a bit slow to get themselves organised, not been taught time management at school evidently, and by the time they were the local police were even better organised as they could see which way the wind was blowing.

When I came home from Enfield last night, the police had asked to use the loo at my club & been entertained to tea, coffee & light refreshments in the quieter moments so I was not worried about being there despite the number son the streets, it was very pleasing to see policeman walking the beat between eleven & midnight. I would like to see them there all the time as that's when lots of trouble happens.

I do hope Barnet Council will not be pattying themselves on the back for this as it's not because of their inactions.

Mr Mustard said...

And we need more apprenticeships, to get the young interested in music like you do, the boxing club, drawing, poetry, art, working in the woods or on allotments etc etc. Barnet Council have been cutting what are in the context of a £900m budget pretty small payments to organisations that were doing good. If they were any good the savings could have, and should have, been found elsewhere. Scrap the vanity projects. £300k lost on the Brunswick Hub. Idiots.

Of course there is £millions for consultants and overpaid management. The one window kicked in, in Barnet High St, is symptomatic of the failure of One Barnet and the current management.

If they had any moral fibre they would cut all salaries to £100,000 maximum and put the balance into youth projects.

Don't hold your breath for a lead from the Council.

Mayor Rutter popping round to reassure locals - funniest thing I have heard in years. Best stick to planting trees & cutting ribbons.

Steve said...

Hear, hear.

Politics has left these kids long gone, where do they look to? No coincidence that this is after many have left school and are now realising there are no jobs, many of their parents will be working in the public sector and be under threat either their conditions or their jobs.

What can they do, EMA is gone, tuition fees are prohibitive, their future is bleak. Politics? Labour, no chance, Torys, you are having a laugh, Libdems - they are just Torys.

At the same time, we have our MPs claiming for flat screen TVs and porn, Banks are again holding the world to ransom with threats of economic collapse, they are being bailed out with state money which finds its way into the bonus pot, costing us and so resulting in cuts to services which are their only connection with the state whilr all political partys are clearly in bed with big media and hence big corporations?

Heck, why aren't I rioting?

Mrs T said...

Same old marxist nonsense from "give the kids a joint" Rog T. Shameful.