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Keir Hardie's Cat

Riots and Sentencing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Ellis   
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 11:28

The recent riots and public concerns on anti-social behaviour have raised lots of issues. It is true that we should be tough, very tough - and the public demand it - on anti-social behaviour. But we do need to be thoughtful to ensure that the treatment of the behaviour does not produce worse results than the "disease" itself.

We also need to deal with all the elements of anti social behaviour and their causes as well.

On the first matter, stiff prison sentences for rioters in general are not the answer; we need more community restitution orders. Putting thousands of young people into prison is hugely expensive (costing more than sending someone to Eton!), pays nothing back to the community, and more particularly just enforces loss of social engagement (87%, I think, of ex-prisoners reoffend, and are unlikely to have improved the tools or skills to engage back into society). To be frank, aren't the stiff prison sentences more likely to produce the conditions for anti-social behaviour and riots in the future? They are just a knee- jerk Tory reaction, not a measured tough view of how to deal with this element of anti-social behaviour.

On the second matter we have to deal toughly with the more general abuses. We have to deal with those presently powerful who seek to corrupt our press and police. Why should Murdoch get away with behaviour which is so anti-social, and indeed Cameron hire a leading employee from him? Also, why should the very richest in society be able to be so anti-social as to avoid paying tax into the public purse for the benefit of all of society? 220 out of Britain’s top 700 companies arrange affairs to avoid paying any corporation tax. 49 out of 50 of Britain’s richest people pay little or no tax! What example is this of an obligation to contribute to society? The Thatcher ethic of "there is no such thing as society" has grown and grown and Cameron and Co, who are part of it, also, are taking no action on these matters.

There is a clear case that the very rich and powerful do set a scene of "me now and damn everyone else" that others, actually a minority, mimic.

Then we have to deal with the causes. After the riots of the 1980s, Lord Scarman's report found that the root causes were poverty, unemployment and social deprivation, which required urgent action to prevent them from becoming an "endemic, ineradicable disease threatening the very survival of our society"!! Since then wealth inequality has increased, sharply under Thatcher and Major, less so but still up under Blair and Brown, and rapidly so under Cameron and Co. So poverty, unemployment (up again and with 40% or more youths aged 18 to 24 without work in the poorer areas of the UK) and social deprivation are the problems. Cameron called these issues "tiresome" in Parliament, so it’s clear he doesn't get it and won't deal with the causes. So Labour will have to, and Ed Millband's comments on poverty as a cause are welcome and in the present press frenzy a little brave.

So think this, if tax avoidance loopholes by the very rich were closed (and this can be done, it’s a matter of will) then £3,000 for every adult would be collected for the public purse, which is presently anti-socially avoided. In Pendle that would mean a public purse increase of £300 million per year, over 10 times the budget of Pendle Borough Council! Think what opportunities for our communities and options available for Pendle People that would bring! Think also what that would mean in providing antidotes to poverty, unemployment, and social deprivation in communities across the UK.

We need real, tough, and comprehensive action on anti-social behaviour.



# Keir Hardie's Cat 2011-08-19 06:31
Tim, the editor of the New York Times agrees with you!

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