Sunday, 21 August 2011

British society is not "sick"

Earlier this month, a spate of terrifying violence and disorder erupted onto our streets. Communities were terrorised, individuals attacked and city centres trashed. Horrendous images on our TV screens of burning buildings and mindless looting created a climate of fear in which people were scared to leave their homes - and in which public trust in the capacity of our police force to respond effectively was shaken.

The Green Party unequivocally condemns the violence and vandalism which has left indelible scars on families, businesses and urban environments across England. We express sincere condolences for those who lost loved ones in the chaos. And we feel admiration for those who took part in the peaceful defence of their neighbourhoods, as well as those came out onto the streets for the clean-up effort.

In the weeks since, the sheer number of column inches devoted to attempts to understand why the riots and looting took place - and how we might be able to prevent such devastation in future - illustrates the huge complexity of this issue. The honest truth is that there are no easy answers.

As a political party, we believe it is crucially important for the fabric of UK society that the Government and the police strike a balance between keeping our streets safe - protecting people from harm and defending communities against destruction - and upholding the hard won civil liberties of our citizens. And we want to keep things in perspective. We do not believe, as Mr Cameron does, that British society is ‘sick'.

Underpinning any analysis should be a recognition of the deep inequality which lies at the heart of British society. So too should we understand the consequences of a consumer culture which promotes endless material accumulation, an aggressive sense of entitlement and a demoralising level of status anxiety.

The Coalition Government's reckless austerity agenda, combined with rising youth unemployment and economic stagnation, is contributing in no small way towards a sense of hopelessness - with huge cuts in public funding for young people's clubs and services, and the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance already having an impact. It's clear that many people feel disempowered and that some have become disengaged from their own communities, to the extent that they are willing to attack them without fear of consequence.

An extract from the full story here.

No comments: