Riots, a truly classless problem

Am I the only one beginning to see evidence emerging that proves we are indeed living in a society that, if not actually broken, has certainly lost its moral compass.

Commentators, politicians and social activists have all been trying to identify a well defined group of criminals as being responsible for the recent riots. As well as being feral and disaffected, these people are supposedly lacking in hope and are forced in to their extreme responses because of their frustrations with a society that has abandoned them. This has lead many to become outright criminals.

However, a quick scan of the details of those who have been through the courts, reveals a much more disturbing fact. Not only are many of those currently bailed or sentenced in gainful employment, a number are very well educated and some were about to embark on productive careers.

If you can’t pin loutish, anti-social, or even criminal behaviour on a disadvantaged background, then you have found yourself a completely new can of worms to open. The Government now has to examine the whole spectrum of our society. It needs to identify how we have distrorted the morals of those involved in theses riots to the extent that, no matter what their backgrounds, they felt that it was, if not okay to do what they did, it was certainly worth the risk.

If it was just a case of reconnecting us all with our lost respect for authority and in particular the law, then that would be easy. More police on the streets, a zero tolerance approach to low level crime and a crime and punishment system that isn’t paralyised by political correctness of the liberal left and the extremes of the Human Rights Act. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that it is anywhere near as simple as that and that what we are dealing with is a state of mind that many of those in charge and over the age of 50 might have difficulty getting their heads around. Why over 50? Well, I think the rot set in the late 60’s, started in our schools and has been reinforced by numerous political decisions and social changes since then.

When my father was alive and something about kids behaving badly was reported in the papers, or came on the TV, one of his favoured comments was, ‘what we need is another bl***ing war, that’ll give ’em something else to think about!’. Given his experiences in WW2, that was a bit extreme to say the least, but I could see where he was coming from. The consumer and celebrity obsessed society we have allowed to develop in this country, has distorted the attitudes of recent generations to what is important and to their place in the world. I fear it will take much more than a few years of David Cameron’s Big Society to fix it – I just hope it doesn’t take another war.

Big Society, when? – if ever

Having spent the late morning and early afternoon delivering newsletters, it occurs to me that if David Cameron’s Big Society idea is to work, it needs to start at the lowest possible level and that’s you and me.  Well meaning, movers and shakers getting together to form action groups have their place, but there’s already plenty of those around.

I spent part of New Year’s eve picking up rubbish around our main communal area in Wygate Park, the neighbourhood shopping area.  It would of been great if this didn’t need doing because people thought about what they were doing to the place where they live and took their rubbish home with them. The problem is, they don’t actually live there, where the shops are, they live in the nearby streets and roads, so it appears to be a case of out of sight is out of mind.

However, my trip around the local streets suggests that this attitude also applies closer to homes, at least for some people.   As well general rubbish either dumped in the front of down the side of houses, there was also litter and refuse lying in gutters or on communal grassed areas.

If the Big Society idea is going to work, this sort of local mess just should not happen, with local people seeing it as their role to clean it up.  They shouldn’t be waiting for the council to do it or, worse still, not even noticing it’s there.

The Big Society can only become a real success if individuals start to play a role in making their communities nicer places to live and I think that may well take a lot longer than David Cameron thinks it will.