Guardian-LSE whitewash of UK summer riots shows the Left is in denial

The UK riots were a product of a social democratic entitlement culture for which theft and looting were merely the logical conclusion

Rage against the machine...
The Commentator
On 5 December 2011 12:44

Oh dear. They’re already pulling out Martin Luther King’s line about riots being “the language of the unheard.” But it’s worse. Without even the slightest sense of irony, Guardian columnist Gary Younge goes on in his piece on this year’s UK riots in Monday’s paper to add: ”Now, thanks in no small part to a study undertaken by the Guardian with the London School of Economics, we've had a chance to listen.”

It’s cringe worthy stuff. But apparently they seem to think that a sociological “study” conducted by people whose ideological prejudices dictated their conclusions in advance is a remotely serious proposition. Here’s why it isn’t, and we’ll use Younge’s piece to illustrate.

The first point, as one would expect from a stereotypically Leftist writer from a stereotypically Leftist newspaper, is about social deprivation:

“Poverty was clearly a factor. Ministry of Justice figures revealed almost two thirds (64%) of the young rioters lived in the poorest areas and 42% relied on free school meals,” says Younge.

The trouble is that it never occurs to him that the reasons why those areas are poor is because these people live in them. The wider socio-economic background in which they were all brought up, after all, was the 1990s and the first three quarters of the first decade of the 21st century.

In other words, they were brought up in one of the biggest, extended boom-times in modern British history – a time when anyone who wanted one could get a job; when wages were rising way above the rate of inflation; when opportunity was there for the taking.

While all this was happening, they, their parents, friends and practically everyone around them – hence the word “underclass” – chose to opt out and live on the largesse of a welfare state which would give you decent housing and an income without having to lift a finger.

Supplement that with some casual (or not so casual) crime and, from a material point of view, you have a perfectly viable life-style with food, drink, drugs and gadgets galore. (If these people are materially deprived, it would be helpful if someone could explain what they’re lacking beyond that latest pair of Nikes or that new look iPhone they were smashing the shop windows in for).  

None of this crosses Younge’s radar, and unless he’s grossly misrepresenting the report the wider-Guardian-LSE establishment is just as clueless.

“When asked how he heard about the riots, one interviewee said he got a message on his BlackBerry saying people were "getting free stuff out and about", so he joined in,” says Younge.

Unless they stole it, how does someone so materially deprived come to own a BlackBerry? It’s the obvious question, but it’s just not asked.

Overall, the analytical shortcomings are frankly embarrassing. The report relies on the testimony of the rioters and since they’re hardly likely to blame themselves and their families let alone welfare dependency, the entitlement culture and crime we get the following sort of statements which Younge expects us to take at face value:

“The cause most often cited for the riots was poverty (86%), but unemployment (79%) and inequality (70%) featured prominently too.”

But there’s another “cause” that Younge is keen to highlight on the report’s behalf: “police brutality”.

Again, you have to be aware that the following excerpt is not intended as self-parody:

“Almost three-quarters of interviewees said they had been stopped and searched by the police in the last year; 85% said "policing" was an important or very important cause of the riots. Just 7% believed the police do a good job in their area.”

In other words, criminals don’t have a good relationship with the police and wish the police would leave them alone. Really, in terms of the report’s credibility, enough said.

In the end, there is of course a relationship between politics and economics on the one hand and crime (rioting or in other guises) on the other.

If you’ve taught significant sections of your society over decades, regardless of the wider economic backdrop at any given time, that they have a cradle-to-the-grave social guarantee you cannot be surprised if you end up radically recalibrating their expectations about life to the point that it changes the culture.

And if social-democracy has taught people that they are literally owed a living by other people and that they have no personal responsibility whatsoever, some of them are bound to wonder why they should wait for the state to take the money out of law abiding citizens’ pockets rather than simply taking it off them directly.

When you add in to the calculation the reality that most economic crime doesn’t result in being caught, and even if you are caught a first offence rarely results in a jail sentence, the outcomes are entirely predictable.

The London riots were bound to happen sooner or later. All they needed was a spark, an excuse or a little bit of encouragement.

With that in mind, here's a final, parting thought. We haven't yet told you the title of Younge's piece. He probably didn't write the headline himself, so let us be clear that we're not blaming him, just his paper. Ponder this: "Indifferent elites, poverty and police brutality – all reasons to riot in the UK".

Incitement, anyone?

Follow The Commentator on Twitter

blog comments powered by Disqus

We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.