Thursday, 8 September 2011

How not to stop riots

According to the Guardian, the government is considering allowing magistrates to withdraw social security benefits as part of its response to last month’s riots.  An epetition on the Government’s website to cut benefits from those found guilty of riot-related offences has attracted nearly a quarter of a million signatures.

Is there anyone who thinks magistrates withdrawing benefits, or councils evicting the families of convicted rioters, will make it less rather than more likely that rioting and looting happens in the future? It can only increase poverty, homelessness and hopelessness in already impoverished working-class communities.

Understanding and doing something about the social conditions that lead to rioting is not the same as thinking that they were a good thing ("a popular uprising" as some have misguidedly called them) or denying the personal responsibility of those who destroyed homes and businesses in their own communities. It is the only way of stopping them happening again.

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