Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Death at the sales

Seydou Diarrassouba, the teenager from South London stabbed on Oxford Street on Boxing Day in what appears to have been an gang-related incident, and Anuj Bidve, the postgraduate student shot in Salford in the early hours of the same day and whose killing is being treated as racially motivated by the police, were as far apart as you can imagine. One a petty criminal awaiting trial for theft; the other a middle-class Indian with a well-paid career ahead of him.  But their deaths were united in one respect: consumerism.

Both men were killed as a result of the Boxing Day sales: Diarrassouba was stabbed after an argument broke out out in a trainer shop and Bidve at 1.30 a.m. while walking through the Ordsall estate in Salford in order to be at the front of the queue at a shop in Manchester city centre.

The BBC and other media outlets talked of the "traditional Boxing Day sales", despite them having only started in the last decade.  Politicians also seem confused about whether consumerism is a good thing or not.  Last summer, it was blamed as one of the factors that led to the looting of shops in riots across England. Now, the ability of the British economy to avoid recession is apparently dependent on the amount of money people spend in high street shops.  The supposedly liberal Guardian even ran an editorial blaming the train drivers' union ASLEF for putting "thousands of jobs at stake" after its members struck on Boxing Day over bank holiday pay.

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