Friday, 30 March 2012

Last summer's riots: were they really caused by bad parenting? Or was something bigger going on?

Earlier this week the commission set up to examine the cause of last summer's riots published its final report, blaming social exclusion and 'poor parenting', rather than police violence, for the disorder.

It had been thought that the death of Mark Duggan, the young man shot dead by police in Tottenham for no apparent reason, lay at the root of the trouble.

Blaming parents certainly takes the heat of the Met, who seem to be a little under the cosh at the moment: just a few days earlier we heard that we'll probably never get to know why they really killed Mark Duggan (too many secrets at stake, apparently) and, just a few days later, we hear how corrupt officers at the Met have been systematically deleting evidence at the behest of criminal gangs.

I don't know whether parenting or police violence was to blame - more likely that it was  a combination of all sorts of factors. An estimated 15,000 young people took part in the rioting, and there were probably no fewer than 15,000 reasons really.

But I'm amazed that the report hasn't mentioned the  revolutionary movements in the Middle East at all. I'm not saying the rioters were attempting to overthrow the Government, but how can daily coverage of young people taking to the streets and protesting against their voicelessness and near-invisibility in society not have had an impact?

I reckon that in the long run we'll look back at last summer's riots and remember them in the context of the Arab Spring, the worldwide 'Occupy' protests and other revolutionary movements and 'moments' across the world.

Long after we've forgotten the Tories' 'troubled families initiative', I think we'll remember 2011 as the year a global revolution touched England. Discuss!

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