[NB - An attempt at parody. Ten years later it is far less funny than I thought it was when I wrote it…]
Following the violent, disgusting and utterly unacceptable events that began in London last Saturday night and continued to spread across England for several days, bloggers, tweeters, commentators, pundits, politicians, random acquaintances of old Oxbridge friends of Newsnight researchers and ordinary people with functioning larynxes, Facebook accounts, or both, from all over the world and beyond, have been queuing up to provide what our American friends would describe as their ‘take’ on it all. Literally hundreds of thousands of words and images have been written, spoken, uploaded, photoshopped or typed out in a big hurry about the riots and the looting. All in vain.
I say ‘in vain’ because it is, or it at least should be, quite clear that now is not the time for speculation.
We simply do not know what happened, nor who did it, nor why, and any attempt even to begin to unpick any of that is - as should be obvious to all right-minded people - to condone and to give succour to those evil criminals responsible for the violence and the property damage. That is not and cannot be acceptable.
Laughably, a map has been produced relating the flashpoints in London to areas of poverty and economic deprivation. It is far too early for such wildly speculative attempts at correlation. We just don’t know whether or not the people who were committing these crimes came from deprived areas with high unemployment and little or no prospects for the young or whether they drove in from large comfortable houses in leafy suburban areas using the car they received as a gift on their 17th birthday. While some information has begun to emerge, via the courts, with regard to the professions followed by the common criminals involved in the actions - already we have a ballerina, a primary school assistant and a law student - it is far to soon to make a judgement as to the overall make-up of the mob. We simply do not know whether or not the rioters were largely on below-average incomes or on benefits; even if they were it would make no difference, and speculation on this kind of thing is pointless and counter-productive to the point of offensiveness.
There have been those who have attempted to point to the role of gang culture funded by the illegal drug trade. This is completely ridiculous and, frankly, utterly ignorant. It is clearly not relevant in any way to anything at all that an international multi-billion dollar industry which has existed in some form since the dawn of civilisation has, through near universal prohibition, been placed wholly in the hands of criminal gangs who operate on a structured basis involving lower level sergeants and foot-soldiers operating almost exclusively in run-down areas of major cities, providing at least some form of employment, kinship, and protection in areas not otherwise noted for the opportunities provided to those of the younger generations, or indeed anyone. Moreover, it should be quite obvious that the increasingly successful efforts of the police to damage, destroy and disrupt these criminal networks, leading in particular to a number of large seizures over the last few years will - perhaps sadly - in no way have any impact at all on what happens to the gangs at street level.
Specifically, it is known that when a particular gang of drug criminals is eradicated, the other gangs consider the territory and clientele now left unserviced by the vacuum to be sacred ground of a sort; they leave it untouched as a kind of memorial to their fallen or imprisoned comrades and all the remaining or surviving members of the disrupted gang give up their illegal activities and start studying accountancy: this is part of what these criminals consider to be their own peculiar Thieves Code, a kind of perverted and inverse form of morality unrecognisable as anything of the sort from the outside. In any case, as police, community workers, and readers of both the Daily Mail and the Guardian alike are well aware, they are all much too busy getting high or stoned to take part in any activity other than dealing drugs, recording hit albums, and occasionally shooting or stabbing one another quite safely in their own areas of town, far away from the peaceful and leafy suburbs occupied by the rest of us, the decent and law-abiding citizen majority who would never dream of taking any drug not certified and sanctioned as completely harmless and risk-free by the government, such as alcohol or tobacco.
In particular, it is nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence that the fatal shooting by police of suspected drug gang leader Mark Duggan in Tottenham happened just before the first unrest took place. Those suggesting that this was somehow a ‘flashpoint’ or a ‘spark’ that ignited the events that followed are just as bad and morally bankrupt as those who smashed in the windows of Argos in order to steal plasma screen televisions There can be no connection whatsoever between the drug gangs and the riots, and even the most remote suggestion to the contrary should to my mind be investigated thoroughly as being tantamount to an admission of involvement in something illegal.
Worse still, some have attempted to make a connection between recent allegations of widespread corruption in the financial sector, in politics, in the media, and the Metropolitan Police force, and the fact that huge numbers of ignorant young people with nothing better to do spent a couple of nights earlier this week wandering about boarded up shopping areas to see if any thugs armed with sticks or baseball bats had broken into anywhere, leaving them wide-open for any curiously larcenous passer-by to grab whatever they could. As Britons, we can all understand that this is patently ridiculous and barely worthy of a response. Brought up as we are to ‘know our place’ it is simply not computationally or societally possible for the naturally keen competitive nature and behaviour of those in the banking world or who sit in the House of Commons - falsely mislabelled as ‘greed’ by anarchists and ne’er-do-wells - to have had any impact on the worldview of ex News of the World readers or the audience of Sky TV. There may have been, it is true, one or two recent hiccups in the otherwise smooth functioning of the wise and warmly benevolent plans that the superior intellects of elite members of society have kindly devised for the rest of us, but - as the recent General Election amply demonstrates - there is no evidence to suggest that there is so much as the least awareness or understanding of any of this among the vast bulk of the population, and this includes both those innocents who were terrorised by the violence as well as those criminals who perpetrated it.
It is too early for any kind of speculation about or analysis of recent events, and quite frankly there will never be a time when it is not too early for any kind of speculation about or analysis of what went on. All of those involved in the riots without exception are nothing more than a evil cancerous growth on our otherwise healthy and flourishing society; they are, from the youngest to the oldest, nothing more than the worst kind of common criminals who should all rightly serve long custodial sentences and then, afterwards, be banned from ever receiving any kind of welfare benefit, having a roof over their head, being allowed to enter or leave the country, to use public transport or any other kind of transport, to take their handcuffs off, or to cross the road. Only in this way can innocent law abiding people and members of the ruling class alike protect ourselves from these scum in future.