As I said in my previous post, Rothesay can be bizarre and have a charm all of its own:
Yes I made my annual pilgrimage to the capital of the beautiful Isle of Bute yesterday.
As well as being beautiful it is quite bizarre. I mean, here is one of the main tourist attractions:
And whilst I appreciate the dubious nature of a middle aged man taking photos in a gents’ toilet, what about these?
The toilets were renovated a few years ago and are quite the most impressive surroundings in which to relieve one’s self in all the land!
No sir or madam. There are no easy answers to what has gone on in English cities this week.
I have been interested in some of the intemperate reaction. Some facebook folk I know have expressed their ‘support for the rioters against the police’. I was on a day out yesterday with some fellow grumpy old men where the prevailing attitude seemed to be ‘shoot the bastards’.
In such a ferment and diversity of opinion, sometimes it is difficult to gather, let alone articulate, one’s thoughts.
There is no single truth or single version of events which covers what has happened.
Rioting and looting are wrong. They are criminal acts. That seems to be the beginning and end of the mainstream politicians’ reaction judging by the footage I’ve seen of the House of Commons debate.
Whilst these statements are undoubtedly true, surely the question has to be asked that in a progressive society, how can such events happen? How does a peaceful protest become a riot which leads to a temporary suspension of law and order which in turn is seen quickly as an opportunity to vandalise, loot and steal?
How do graphic designers, housewives and graduates end up in court for stealing TVs, mobile phones and bicycles?
Why do such events evoke the vindictive, smug and almost fascist response of some?
What is the more natural behaviour of people living in areas blighted by poverty and deprivation? Is it to go out on the street rioting, fire raising, vandalising and looting? Or is it to respond by getting out on the street assisting in the clear up and condemning the rioters as many have done?
To in some way understand the riots is not to approve of them.
I was lucky enough to be born in a pleasant seaside town. I had good parents who both had good jobs. I was taught a good set of values and standards to live by which have stood by me through adulthood.
What right do I have to somehow pass judgement on a youth born in a sink estate in London? Maybe with crack addicted parents and no money, guidance or love to see him/her through? What if the local youth club had been closed in a round of cuts by the local council? How would such an individual react when he realised that the police had lost control of an area and that an opportunity was there to nick a TV, or an ipod or…..?
On the other hand, how would I feel if I were a cop going out on the street to perhaps risk my life protecting people and property and trying to restore order? How would I view the individual described above?
How would that individual view the police?
How would I feel if I, as the owner of a business built up over many years, were to turn up to work in the morning to find a burned out shell of a building?
Here is a debate on Newsnight the other night featuring Kelvin McKenzie, Yohan Scarlet, a student from North London, Reveal Poison, an Anglo-Iranian rapper and (edit- thanks Tam) Lyn Costello of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression (MAMA)
Yohan Scarlet was impressive:
He was he said not involved in any rioting but knew some who were. ‘If you lived in certain areas it was impossible not to know a criminal,’ he said. He condemned their behaviour yet, rather than blame, he offered up a rationale quoting Martin Luther King, ‘A riot is the voice of the unheard.’ When challenged by Essler on whether he was equating these particular riots with Martin Luther King he calmly refuted it. Instead he said he was simply paraphrasing Martin Luther King.
But it was when Gavin Essler asked him, with what seemed genuine curiosity, as to how a young man could empathise with the position of some of those on the street, while at the same time condemning their behaviour and refusing to be part of it, he came out with a statement that I believe should be writ large in the corridors of power and, yes, LISTENED TO, as listening is a skill that many of those steeped in an adversarial political system as well as others wielding influence, find difficult to master.
When asked pointedly by Essler why he hadn’t taken part in the rioting, the violence and the looting, without a beat he replied, ‘Because I had good parents and was fortunate enough to have a mum and dad who would do everything and anything, who would go to the ends of the earth … They (most of the people on the street) never had anything, so they don’t care about anything now.’
Kelvin McKenzie of course did his usual Alf Garnett tribute act and once again made a complete tit of himself. The depressing thing is that you just know there would have been plenty watching who would be agreeing and hanging on his every word.
So dear reader, sorry to have wasted your time. I don’t have the answers;I have in fact only scratched on the surface of the questions.
Whichever answers arise will have the approval of some and the disdain and opposition of others.
I would make one more point and I may be tempting fate – I could be completely wrong.
However I don’t see the rioting spreading to any Scottish cities. The same problems of drugs poverty and deprivation exist in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee as do in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester but I would be very surprised if we see similar scenes here.
And I don’t know why that is either, other than a hunch.
Thanks Wise Women Relating
Thanks to John O’Hare who sends a link to this Reuters item.
“The rebels of Britain approach Liverpool in hit-and-run battles with Cameron’s brigades and mercenaries from Ireland and Scotland. God is Greatest,” said a breaking news caption on Libyan TV’s morning program.
British warplanes and ships, along with those of several NATO allies, have been attacking the forces of the Libyan leader for months to stop them shelling rebel cities and forces bent on toppling Gaddafi.
Gaddafi is accused of hiring mercenaries mostly from African states to fight the rebels.
Cameron ordered a surge in police numbers this week to calm London and other cities across England after four days of often unchecked street disorder and looting embarrassed his government and English authorities.
Libya’s “mercenary” taunt was part of a morning show traditionally aimed at drumming up sentiment for Gaddafi.
“These (riots in Britain) are not protests fermented by foreign intelligence services,” said the show host, contrasting the turmoil in Britain with what Tripoli calls a foreign-hatched plot to unseat Libya’s lawful government .
On Wednesday, the Libyan government turned Western rhetoric back on Cameron, saying he “has lost his legitimacy and must go.” — a formulation that London, Washington and Paris have used to demand Gaddafi quit power after 41 years.