10 August 2011

Manchester Riots

The definition of a riot involves the gathering of eleven or more people for the violent pursuit of an unlawful enterprise. The scenes in Manchester, London and elsewhere were certainly riots.

The BBC persistently described these rioters and looters as protestors. BBC television and radio filled their airtime by parading apologists who ascribed the riots to Government cuts, an uncaring society, the neglect of the poor, the MP's expenses scandal and the banker's bonuses.

When the riots were described as criminality, the BBC presenters were scornful and described this view as simplistic.

A BBC producer on Radio4 this afternoon was unapologetic when faced with the suggestion that television coverage had made matters worse. That the presence of the cameras had aggravated the situation and that the BBC had been instrumental in attracting more people to the incidents. She insisted that the BBC's purpose was to report and that it had no other responsibility. It might have been suggested that the worse the riots the better the BBC coverage looked but she was being interviewed on the BBC and the question wasn't asked.

These were not protestors, they were looters. They were not poor, they were bored. They killed people and destroyed livelihoods because they knew that, even if they were caught, nothing much could be done to them. One of them summed it up by saying that all he would get was an ASBO and he could live with that.

So, this is what all the appeasement politics and Human Rights legislation has brought us to. The inability to defend the rights of decent people against a lawless minority.

There were, however, three positive aspects that struck me:

First, the mobilisation of clean up squads. Young and old, sweeping up the debris in a spirit of community.

Secondly, the inspirational behaviour of our Asian communities. They epitomise decent, law abiding, family oriented society. Recognition that they provide a bedrock for Britain and not a threat is long overdue.

Thirdly, the way in which the looters are being condemned by every part of society. I get the impression that anyone offered cheap electronic equipment or designer clothes is now more likely to call the police than grab themselves a bargain. The old myth of victimless crimes, of robbing the rich, has been dramatically exposed.

I am sad about the BBC. It has been telling us its own version of the truth for a long time and now its agenda has been clearly exposed.

We can defend our cities against this threat. We can respect and empower our police force. We can foster a sense of community in our children. We can demonstrate by our own actions that quality of life and happiness are not a function of money and possessions.

Our children will not enjoy the resources and wealth that we have. It doesn't mean they can't lead much happier and rewarding lives.

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