The Tottenham Riots: What Messages Are Politicians Sending to Disaffected Youth?

David Lammy on the campaign trail

Image by Labour via Flickr

A very cynical voice in my head says the Tories must be in government again, since we have rioting on the streets. Though this is possibly coincidence, though more likely due to the British tending to elect the right wing during financial squeezes. No doubt there will be a public enquiry at some point, and he standard causes of Riots will again be reported as responsible for this riot.

Poverty, alienation, lack of education, lack of ambition, lack of opportunity, perceived oppression, social isolation, perceived disenfranchisement. All of which are truthfully causes of a lot of social problems. The difficulty is explanations are not justifications, and whatever the ‘causes’ and whoever is seen to be to blame, in the end it was innocent people who bore the brunt of the violence in Tottenham. Just as it always is in all violent conflicts everywhere.

War is a serious business, whether it is between Global Super Powers, Nations, Peoples within Nations, religions, Gangs, the Poor and the Rich, the Oppressed and the Oppressors. It is serious because it is all too often those who want to live quiet peaceful lives who have to leave their homes, bury their loved ones, and build something out of the rubble.

The root cause of the Riot is supposed to be the shooting of Mr Duggan, who reportedly shot at police first. In the reporting I sensed that many were trying to wrestle control of the agenda back onto community concerns regarding this. The Reverend Nims Obunge, Pastor at the Freedom’s Ark Church, in Tottenham, said: “It is right that this community should have questions they have answered. Until those questions are answered I don’t think we can effectively rebuild the community.” And seemed particularly to want to hold onto the reasons for yesterdays march, rather than the agenda become, the reasons for the riot which followed. He has a job on his hands, because the media will follow the burning cars and buildings, like moths drawn to a flame.

No doubt people reading my blog might imagine I am a lefty supporter of the Labour Party, which I never have been. However at the time of writing, the only winner following the riot would seem to me to be Tottenham’s Labour MP David Lammy who appealed for calm, saying that “true justice can only follow a thorough investigation of the facts,” and that Tottenham had its “heart ripped out” by the riots. He said that rioters were not representative of the local community as a whole. I also noted that he said completely truthfully as far as I am aware, that he had lived in Tottenham all his life. How many MP’s can say that they have lieved their whole lives in the communities they represent. Frankly Mr Lammy was very impressive, he seemed to me to be representing his constituents rather than himself, his anger for them seemed Genuine.

It wasn’t however specifically the content of what Mr Lammy had to say, rather the hwyl, (Welsh word meaning mood, but a whole lot more,)  with which he said it. I might hazard to say that he made more sense, and engaged me as a voter more than any politician I have heard in a very long time, he was angry on his communities behalf, and it showed.

For a little while I have been wondering about the wisdom of party politics. Some years ago there was some concern that politics was being driven by single issue parties. The Green’s and less savoury the BNP and EDL, being examples. There are times when the main parties seem to have to manufacture disagreements, since most professions are now inclined towards evidence based practice. In this context I have begun to wonder if part of the corrosion of respect for politicians in the UK is that they are not seen as representing the people. Certainly the representation of a constituency by an individual seems to have defeated the single transferable vote.

I think the UK is a long way from the foolishness that the right and left have engaged in in the US particularly over recent weeks, but at times it still baffles me that constantly there seem to be efforts to manufacture disagreement, and that the arguments are little more than political games designed to obtain power, and once the aquire power they have forgotten what they wanted it for in the first place.

I suspect strongly that this is a bigger root cause of such riots as this one, there is a sense that politicians and those with authority in our society are so busy accumulating power they fail to notice that the example they set for everyone else is, climb the slippery pole by whatever means necessary, and to hell with anyone you have to step on the way. MP’s drafted in to communities because they ‘toe party lines’ don’t help one jot.

Wasn’t that what most of the rioters were doing on Saturday 6-8-11, finding a way to express power and to hell with anyone else who got in the way, such as their neighbours.

If more politicians could say what they had to say about their communities the way Lammy did today, prehaps more of them could demand our respect. I had never heard of David Lammy before today, I think other people will hear of him now, partly because his face is now all over the news, but also because I will tell them, and I suspect i will not be the only one.


About Transremaxculver

An entirely fictitious username I created for posting on 'alt.religion.scientology', Scientology is something of which I am highly critical. For those of you who don't know, the Church of Scientology have a habit of making life very uncomfortable for even the most legitimate of critics, which is why this username is completely anonymous. Anyway I have become quite fond of this username, and although it has to some extent outgrown it's original purpose, I think a blog is perhaps the right place for me/it to continue to grow and develop.
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