Whatever the root causes of the unrest in English cities one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that there is a lot of anger among some elements of society. What surprises me is not that they are angry but why on earth aren’t the rest of us angry?
When Darcus Howe said that he wasn’t shocked by the riots he was asked if that meant that he condoned them. His reply “ Of course not … what I am concerned about is a young man called Mark Duggan…the police officer blew his head off”. The IPC found that there was no evidence that Mr Duggan had fired at police and an eye-witness said that policeman had him pinned to the ground when shots were heard. If that happened in your community wouldn’t you be angry?
But this is not an isolated incident. There is the death of Jean Charles de Menesez and that of Ian Tomlinson. In fact, since 1998, 335 people have died in police custody and not one officer has been convicted of any offence. Why are we not all out on the streets protesting at this situation?
We were all, rightly, horrified that the voicemail of the murdered girls Millie Dowler had been hacked into by those sub-contracted by News of the World to find stories to fill their pages. It has become clear that the police failed to investigate the initial allegations fully. At the same time the close personal relationships between senior policeman and senior executives at News Corporation have been exposed. While the two things may be completely unrelated there is, surely, a chance that there is a link? Why are we not all out on the streets demanding a full investigation and prosecution of all those concerned?
Our MPs were quick to denounce feral youth. What about the feral elite? By common consent bankers brought the whole world economy to the very brink of total meltdown. Taxpayers all across the western world are paying for their greed yet they are still paying themselves huge bonuses. A commission is about to recommend that investment banking is separated from high street banking. This will have at least two huge benefits: ordinary savers will be protected from the risks taken by investment banks and banks will never again be too big to fail, which will protect taxpayers from having to pick up the bill when the gamblers lose. But even before publication of the report banks and their big business allies are going in for a campaign of special pleading, claiming that changes to the banking system will undermine growth. Growth will come from small businesses and the banks are refusing to lend to them. Why are we not shouting our anger from the rooftops?
And the politicians seem prepared to go along with the banks argument, kicking reforms into the long grass until after the next election, hoping that we will all forget about it. And the thing is …. we probably will! Why aren’t we out there demanding that bankers bonuses are restricted or heavily taxed or banned completely? We own these banks now. Why aren’t we angrier at the way they continue to behave?
And the politicians. Oh yes, the expenses scandal, cash for questions, cash for honours, overseas tax havens, millionaire donors … the list goes on and on. Why do we just shrug and let them get away with it?
So the question is not why there is anger but why there isn’t more.