Thursday, August 11, 2011

How can we prevent a recurrence of the 2011 English riots?

The English Riots 2011 are over. 
Sound the All Clear, and back to Business As Usual (BAU), now with added repression. 

Economists love formulae. Here's one
The rich get richer, and the poor can go to hell. me naive if you wish, but I personally think it would be a good idea to bring in a few modest, cost effective reforms designed to reduce the probability of a recurrence of the rioting. They are based on this post on the causes of the riots.  

Outline reforms to promote social cohesion in the UK

1 Provide parenting skills to parents that need help.
Effective counselling and education programmes are available. GPs, schools and other agencies could make referrals when they become aware of a child that is in danger of going out of control.

2 Provide for community leaders and community space in any neighbourhood that requests them. 
The leaders can be drawn from the local community, or if appropriate, they could come from outside. The effectiveness of this provision has a sound evidence base. Go here, click on Impact of Social Conditions on Health, and scroll down to "Stimulating the sense of community)

3 Take action to limit the influence of gang culture 
There are things that can be done.
Including the re-opening of Youth Clubs. Height of stupidity to close them as part of Osborne's cuts.

4 Stop the cuts in public services that make the lives of the poor more bearable
'Nuff said.

5 Faclilitate access of unemployed to good work

6 Tax the Rich
So, close tax avoidance loopholes, close tax havens on a global basis. 

Globalisation of the economy clearly requires a global tax regime - not the same percentages for each country, but a regime that stops super-rich corporations and individuals from threatening to move their business away from any country that tries to tax them meaningfully.

It is claimed that corporations create wealth which then "trickles down" to the whole country. This trickle down is a prostatic dribble, insignificant in comparison to the Niagra-like roar of money being siphoned off into tax havens. By closing off this loss, national economies throughout the world (193 out of 198 countries are in debt) will be able to reduce/pay off their deficits.

Oh, and the increased tax revenues will provide funding for items 1-5 above.

As I say, call me naive if you wish.

PS:  This post does not address the problem of policing, because it is a huge topic in its own right, covering shootings, dealing with complaints, the incomprehensible disjunction between their heavy handedness in dealing with peaceful demonstrators and soft touch with violent looters, &c.


Anonymous No. 6 said...

Doc, large numbers of poor people in deprived areas haven't rioted and don't riot. That lines been trotted out a million times over the last few days but I can't get away from it - analyse it 'scientifically' and it truly is a spanner in the works. Sure target resources into those areas and the 'cultures' that are affected but again you have just listed all the things that annoy YOU about society (as all politicians do) giving the impression that fixing them will stop these things happening.

There have been some great instances of 'solidarity' - working class communities coming together to keep looters out but that has been seemingly everyone against the 'gangstas' - a good thing or a bad thing?

I don't think those people expressing solidarity with each other are particularly keen to see the 'remedies' you suggest - rather fantastically they seem to have adopted some universal working class values and should make us all proud to live here together.

The nadir for me was the man in Birmingham who lost his son. It just cut you in two listening to it. They were doing what all decent people everywhere would support and now it seems that most of our communities have more in common with each other than we do with the gangsta communities that are ruining things for a disproportionate amount of people in their midst.

DocRichard said...

I had hoped that I had addressed the causes in the post.

Let's take it step by step:

"Just as it is impossible to have a baby without a pregnancy, so it is impossible to have a riot without a cause - or in this case, causes. "

Do you agree with that? The riots had a cause? Or are they spontaneous, uncaused, or caused by God testing us?

If you accept they have a cause, do you think they have a single cause (note cause, not trigger event, which was Mark Duggan's death and the subsequent refusal of the local police to meet the family), or multiple causes, multifactorial causation?

If multifactorial, then would you exclude the rich poor gap as one cause?

If you do so exclude, do you reject all of the Spirit Level argumentation?

Look at it this way. The rioters have been in their social conditions for years. Does that prove that social conditions did not assist in causing them to riot?

Is this not like saying "I've had coronary atherosis for years, so it cannot be a causative factor in my coronary?

So I'm not sure what you are saying re causes or re remedies. Is your remedy to laud working class solidarity? Are you for or against taking steps to limit gangster culture?

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous No. 6 said...

Hi Doc

I think the riots surely have multiple 'causes' but considering the absence of riots in many areas similar to those areas in which there were riots, then the condition of those areas surely cannot be THE, or even a major, causative factor?

I can't get past the fact that many people rioting were not from the 'underclass' and that many poor people from similar areas actually stood together against the rioters.

The common factor to me (and the one that chimes with my background of leaving school in an era of high unemployment in a mining area) is the absence in the rioters of a real 'community' (despite the continuous talk of it) and the absence of people having faith in each other or seeing value in each other. Much as I would have hated to say it a few years ago, years of teaching and current events point me toward a breakdown in the family (makes me sound like Peter Lilley or something!) and community relations as hugely important. That's the factor that separates the people and places that rioted and are involved in extensive criminality day-to-day from the tighter muslim, Turkish, Chinese communities etc. The white working class are rapidly losing those relationships and are in my eyes clearly becoming like the dysfuntional Afro-caribbean community. This is also reflected in performance at school.

Stay cool, you're a nice man.

DocRichard said...

Hi Anon6

Hooray, we are beginning to agree.
The post addresses community leaders and community spaces.

There is an interesting line of tweets from @SkyNewsOlympic , a journalist sitting in on the magitrates courts. One says "She was in the area, saw the looting and decided to take part herself, the court heard".

A girl out shopping, sees looting, joins in. Very telling. Mass reaction, herd mentality. This is of the essence - it is a social phenomenon; individual psychology gets merged in with the crowd action.

"Fanily values": yes, and again this can be addressed (in part - nothing is perfect) by providing training in parenting skills.

"the absence of people having faith in each other or seeing value in each other." Yes. this is addressed directly in the Spirit level, where trust in other people is found to be inversely proportional to the
inequality in society.

So - good. Constructive debate leading towards agreement. Sorry if I got a bit acerbic.

Anonymous said...

Mark Duggan, the man shot by the police (a normal family man) was a nephew of this piece of work:

25 unsolved murders. I think I'd have my finger on the trigger if I were a copper too...

DocRichard said...

Thanks for that info. It would go to help explain why the police shot first, as you say.

Gangs have got to be tackled as part of the whole response to this riot. There are plenty of models to go on.

Something has got to be put in place of gangs. All sorts, youth centres, music, art, literature and above all, good work that improves the community and environment. Cleaning, painting, gardening, helping. All sorts. Yes it needs money, but it is a better return on investment than you get in the City, especially right now. It can be done. Tax the rich. As I suggest above.

I am convinced that

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree.

(same anon as above) said...

This won't work in reality, that is what I suppose.