Kinsman: What societal problems have the London riots exposed?

By: /
August 14, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Theories and agendas abound. A crisis over values is exposed at long last. This ain’t Tahrir Square about rights, or Athens about welfare cuts, or, thank God, Watts about race. It’s about anti-authority organized gangs igniting mindless mobs grabbing what they can while they can because the din of materialistic pleasure and self-gratification drowns out any other noise in British media and urban streets. Yes, there is alienation but it is a sense of alienation from the bally-hooed entitlements of the instantly rich and famous in a celebrity-driven culture, where dumbed-down TV is handed over to insane “reality” shows, and preposterous pay-offs handed to nobodies in high and low finance.

So, this was the rioters’ own “reality” show, empty and destructive. The UK needs positive role-models that are real (not Kate and Will), and institutions – parliament, the Police, banks, media, – need to heal their degraded selves, and regain credibility before “community” can trump crimes of instant opportunity. When people trash their own neighbourhoods, it’s either deep anger or something much more shallow. This is the latter,  but good folk from the ‘hoods are pushing back. The easy talk now is for a crack-down, but the deeper issue is cultural, includinig about parenting, and public schools as much as it is about law and order or jobs.