Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What's Worse - the Riot or the Revenge ?

The British people can be a vicious bunch at times. Apparently 32% would have been quite happy to see the looters or rioters gunned down at the weekend - David Cameron as Bashir Assad would have been laughable if it hadn't been so tragic.

The vengeful spirit of retribution abroad on blogs like politicalbetting sickens me. For all the wrong they have done and let's face it, they have done wrong, we are systematically destroying the lives of hundreds of people through the courts. Magistrates, who are either eagerly or less eagerly following the Prime Minister's edict to be harsh on rioters, are casually locking people up. E-Petitions are gathering thousands of supporters calling for benefits to be revoked, others want life sentences.

Meanwhile, the Police, enjoying public and popular support, are strutting round the streets "enforcing order" i.e: pushing people around they don't like and generally acting with the swagger of an occupying army. It's quite clear many of them wanted to "go in hard" on Saturday and Sunday nights but weren't able to. The consequences of "going in hard" would have likely meant deaths on the streets and let's not forget the death of Mark Duggan which still needs to be properly investigated and those responsible brought to book.

Unfortunately, the public are at their most vengeful and unpleasant right now. No one seems willing to listen to more rational arguments or to address the root causes of the looting nor even to consider the political and operational failures that allowed the disorder to proliferate. Instead, there is gloating at the potential destruction of lives for these people will be forever tarnished with their indiscretion. For them, employment and credit will be that much harder to obtain and their life prospects will be hugely damaged for what for most was a moment of madness.

Proportionality is or should be part of the legal system - it isn't worth destroying someone's life or propsects for a pair of trainers but that seems to be the public mood right now. One of the qualities for which the British used to be regarded was our sense of fair play - that seems to have gone up in smoke with a few shops.

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