Lets blame someone – Quick! That seems to be the order of the day for Westminster. The “Youth” are getting the brunt of it, and everyone is now soul-searching about whose policy is to blame! But by focusing on what the youth never had and blaming the riots squarely on the youth, we are going to really miss the point of what has happened in the past week. While there was many 16/17 year olds involved in the riots, there was also a lot of people who were much older, up to 40 years of age.
What we need to realise and accept is that it has happened, We need to see stong and clear leadership from all our leaders, not only from Parliament, but right down to our local community leaders too.
We need a clear message to be sent out, by apprehending and prosecuting those responsible. But we also need to look a bit deeper. When something happens like this, the claims are all similar, it’s “the Youth”, “the Immigrants” etc, but we have to realise, labels are not the answer! If it is the youth, then why have we let it happen. They are our children and our communities. Why on earth would the youth feel part of a community, when all that community does is call the police on them all the time to get them moved on. If it’s a lack of community spirit, then its our community, why have we let it die? One of the aims of what we have been doing in Kingsway is to build up a sense of community and I have to say, it’s not easy. You can not just snap your fingers and make it happen.
The best leadership I have seen locally is at the hands of the Police. From the top, right down to the bottom. From the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Melville, setting the right example in words and action, right to the front line Police, such as PC Lucy Kay, who used the likes of Twitter to keep everyone in the community alert and aware of what was going on and emphasising the need for community support.
Listening to Nick Clegg this morning, he made me feel sick. Up to now, I have actually had some personal respect for him, he made a tough decision to go with the Coalition and has been leading his party down a very rocky road. I have not agreed with what he has done, but you have to admire the strength and ability of a person who can lead like that. But this morning I heard him all over the radio and on the TV discounting any responsibility at all and saying how on earth could any of the decisions in Parliament have any baring on what has happened in the riots. Mr Clegg, wake up call, everything you do in Parliament has an effect, if not, why are you bothering?
I think the government need to take this as an alarm bell. We are talking about the lack of community spirit, yet many of the community building blocks are going to struggle and maybe fold. This should be a huge banner for David Cameron to make “Big Society” work, but in practice it shows that it could rip the fabric of our society apart. Many of the Cuts have not properly come in and people are already scared, and as this riot has shown, it only takes one spark in one area and things blow up and escalate at a frightening rate.