Looking beyond the riot: Role Models and Knee-Jerk ReactionsIt was very convenient for the government to blame young people for the riots this week,but quite why senior politicians and coalition prime ministers felt justified in making suchunfounded claims is at the heart of the deepening crisis in Britain, with riots only a smallseismic shift in what may signal bigger tremors to come
if the government doesn’t step out
of denial and into democracy; such
knee jerk reactions are not acceptable within the corridors of power.
Yet, the riots should not really have come as a surprise. Speculation over civil unrestamongst bloggers has been rife for some time. Britain has already had its fair share of ominous tremors over the last few years, some large, reaching the upper limits of ourpolitical and social Richter scales and some smaller flashes in the political pan. But thoseevents have not gone un-noticed.Our economy is weak. On the surface it looks as if the sub-prime mortgage crisis is theagitator, a US led movement responsible for artificially propping up banks both in Americaand here in England and who have become so much a part of the establishment that no onequestions quite how and why they are allowed to issue money and what the implications of that relationship going unchecked means today. What is particularly fascinating about thesubprime mortgage crisis when considered in relation to the erosion of democracy is theerosion of trust between the banks themselves, which was at the heart of the crisis. From
credit rating agencies, designed to analyse the quality of the bank’s loans to governments
including ours, who actively
failed to regulate the banks’
activities, we begin to see that thereal agitators are opportunists in the system and they make the rioters look feeble incomparison. And it is these very same agitators who are, this week calling on Britain as a
nation to fight gang culture and the ‘Something for Nothing’ School of thought.
The irony of this is both hideous and depressing.And how could we forget the parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009. Responsible forcausing a massive loss of confidence in politics, it was angered members of the public whocalled on the government to act. In the end, the Speaker of the House of Commons, cabinetministers, Labour back benchers, Conservatives and peers were all subject to resignationsand sacking. The creation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was set upto keep MPs expenses separate from the House after the event, but the scandal was initiallyexposed by the press and members of the public. When we reach a point where we mustrely solely on the media and the public to police our politicians we have reached an all-timelow. The question then must surely be, why are our democratic checks and balances failing?And the answer can perhaps be found in the reaction of our leaders to the scandal. NadineDorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire bemoaned the media spotlight, likeningthe scrutiny to a witch hunt and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams felt thathumiliating MPs who had taken advantage of the expenses system would damage the faithwe had in democracy. Nevertheless, David Cameron was highly critical of MPs like Nadine
Dorries who did not have sympathy for the public’
s perception. (Shortly after, David