Poverty…social deprivation…inequality…social tensions…alienation…a broken Britain…
Who would have thought that the European bastion of self sufficiency and stiff upper lips would watch sections of London burn in this day and age? Set afire by angry people roaming the streets the pundits are trying to find the right words to explain what happened. The world acts shocked that mobs of youth and young adults displaying antisocial behavior have taken to the streets in this venerable city.
They shouldn’t be shocked. The riots in London have been in the making for many years and the rampage is merely a pot bubbling over. In 2007 the New York Times wrote about pockets of social deprivation and alienation, absence of respect for authority, drug use, vandalism, criminality and broken families as being common across Britain. The country was ranked last by UNICEF among 21 industrialized countries for children’s well being. The measurement factors included health, poverty and relationships with family.
Alienated and poverty stricken youths are not Britain’s only troubled group of citizens. The poorest of the citizenry can be sorted by ethnic groups – Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Black Africans have the highest income poverty rates.
Now the stories about the London riots discuss how the city’s two disparate worlds have been revealed. There are the poverty stricken under-educated youth and young adults who cannot find jobs because there are none. Then there is the other British population that enjoys the luxury of employment, home ownership, and holidays in countries around the world. The wide division creates two worlds so vastly different they might as well be on opposite sides of the planet.
Poverty is ruinous. It erodes the spirit like a cancer. The cancer only got worse when the austerity measures were put into place and the social services cut as a result. The cuts are hurting people who live in a depressed economy all the time and not just during the current recession. It is why the British Prime Minister David Cameron used the term “broken Britain.” Something that is broken is not working.
People need to realize though that these riots are not surprising. There has been plenty of warning for years now. It was simply easier to ignore the chasm separating the two worlds of have and have-nots…maybe write an article here and there…mention the poor and alienated every now and then…and then plan the next holiday to France.