Friday, 12 August 2011

Parliamentary Knee Jerks- Are we endanger of making the situation worse?

Yesterday, with the return of Parliament David Cameron and the government have begun laying the foundations of restoring Civil order and the rule of law to be imposed but... and I don't believe that I am asking this... Are some of the knee jerk reactions going too far, not curing the problem and even making it worse?

A big cause of the civil unrest was the inability to listen to the people in the streets and a growing feeling of separation between the Government and ordered society with this separate culture that has grown up. As questions flew from around the house it was becoming obvious that retribution was the main theme along with compensation for those who lost property etc.

Now I completely agree with this. Those who had their property and business' damaged completely deserve compensation and I fully support the Government's policies and aims to help them. I can't imagine the hardships that are in front of those people, to be made homeless and lose everything and have to rebuild their lives. They do deserve justice and those that are responsible do deserve to be punished and shown that society has laws, whether you acknowledge the rule of the society's law or not. However the truth of the matter is that the Prison system cannot handle the massive influx of prisoners that will be put in and in the long run the revolving door policy will mean many are back on the streets by the end of the year. The prison system has long been in need of reform and reworking and now when it really needs to have space for a large influx there is none and it won't get fixed overnight.

Other punitive measures were bandied around such as the removal of social housing and benefits. This, on the surface seems fair, yet at the same time turfing the already poor out onto the street will solve nothing and if anything will cause those who already hate the government and law hate it even further. The same would occur with the removal of state benefits. After all they will get their money one way or the other through nefarious means if necessary. It would be better to show clemency at this time or even an alternate form of punishment. Would it not be better to get them to pay their debt to society by making them perform community service and clean up duties for their benefits so that they still get paid what they need, get punished and the community that they helped to destroy has hands to repair it?

Another question that worried me, and was nicely sidestepped by the Prime Minister was;
"Will those that were involved in the riots and are not to British citizens be deported?"
"Those who do not have a right to be hear will indeed be removed." - meaning any illegal immigrants will be removed.
The scary face of it was that anyone who isn't a British citizen, does that count for Commonwealth citizens or EU citizens?
I'm undecided on this issue. After all if you don't want to take part in British society and the way we live then yes Dover is that way...
However, this is someones home and I fear it as a right-wing knee jerk to get rid of Jonny Foreigner and that pushes me back the other way but that may be a reaction to my lifelong studies of Germany 1933-45. As I say, I'm undecided.

The one that I thought Nick Clegg would stand up and say something on, was the threat to freedom of speech. During the riots there was a brief freeze on Blackberry instant messaging to slow the coordination of the riots. Now there is talk of policing or banning Twitter and Facebook. This would be a direct attack on our freedom of speech. Yes it is awful that social networking and media has been abused by those who want to bring terror and crime to our streets but what of the rest of us who watched on in horror?
What of the commuters who are reliant, in Southeastern's ineptitude, on Twitter for update on travel information? Or Kent Police on dispelling the rumours and lies about riots in Maidstone and Chatham?
It was up to Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, to be the voice of reason and point out how Twitter and Facebook had helped to dispel these rumours. surely the majority of innocents should not suffer because of a handful of trouble makers? It is as if the Government feel that social networking sites are to blame for the riots and that before Twitter there were no riots. How were the riots in the 80's or Poll tax riots coordinated? What's next? Banning Mobile phones?
I think maybe keeping an eye on what is being said and preempting the rioters is a good thing but again there are times when the wrong end of the stick could be grasped by the authorities and a well meaning jab at sarcasm could be seen as inciting.
I once said to my baby daughter; If you break Daddy's model tank he will kill you - It doesn't mean I'm going to commit infanticide!

Other measures, such as giving the Police more powers to get groups to remove their hoods and masks, although an attack on freedom of action is clearly necessary. The Liberties of the individual have indeed outstretched the liberties of the group. The needs of the one are outweighing the needs of the many which is wrong.
The Police have come under a lot of stick in the past, if they are too gung-ho they are being oppressive, if they hold back for fear of public persecution they are being cowards and ineffective. Clear lines need to be drawn up and used so that they can react accordingly as the situation dictates.

Tracey Crouch MP
It would also seem that these people have no respect for the state and why should they? As Charles Kennedy has said, British Parliamentary democracy is impenetrable to the average citizen, even for some of us who are interested in it! For many all the parties are the same and Westminster filled with dry old grey suit wearing old men who have little interest in anything other than lining their own pockets.Politics needs to go back to being for the people and MPs need, like David Lammy, Tracey Crouch, Mark Reckless even Nick Clegg and David Cameron did, go out on the streets.

More importantly these people need to be shown what society is and that it includes them and that they can no longer do what they wish. It must start in schools where for too long pupils have got away with doing nothing if that is how they choose. I remember from my time at school that some pupils who didn't want to work got detention, if they didn't go to that more detention, if they avoided that they were suspended - a free week off! Something needs to be done to encourage kids to pull their own weight. Also Parents need to take an interest and be involved with their kids, they seem to just let them run the streets or get away with not doing home work, being rude to elders or people in authority. It is like society in parts of Great Britain have degraded. A cause must be found and treated like rather than lopping the head off this Hydra only to find in a year or two another one pops up.

It is easy to swing to the right on issues like this. I'm urging instead of swift and terrible justice, the careful considered approach that with a hearts and minds aim will win back this lost group to society and the rule of law rather than alienating them further. We must understand the cause so that it will never be repeated.

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