Archive for the ‘UK Riots 2011’ Category

UK Riots 2011

Mercredi, août 17th, 2011

Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, last week blamed Coalition Government cuts (which have not even taken effect yet!) for the riots in major city centres in the UK. This then conveniently ignores not poverty in the UK which is relative, not to blame and not anywhere near the deprivations experienced in parts of the developing world, but the failure of policies of the previous Labour Government in the key areas of schools, work and the home.
Wasted – The Betrayal of White Working Class and Black Caribbean Boys by Harriet Sergeant is published by the Centre for Policy Studies and quotes the damning statistics on illiteracy that came out just before the riots. These statistics showed that at the age of 14 years, 63% of white working class and over 50% of black Caribbean boys have a reading age of seven years or less; around 50% of 16-year-olds also have no basic qualifications in English or mathematics.
As an American friend of mine commented after watching on television the riots and resulting wanton destruction, everything seemingly of value to the rioters appeared to be looted and trashed apart from one lone bookshop which remained undisturbed! Indeed from the US Department of Justice there is evidence that the failure to learn to read at school can lead to such a level of frustration that, if sustained, can cause aggressive antisocial behaviour and delinquency. Thus according to Harriet Sergeant, half the prison population has a reading age less than that of an 11-year-old. Even if you are clever, the school system can still work against you when streaming according to ability is abolished as elitist and leads to boredom amongst cleverer pupils through lack of challenge.
There is also the effect of the change in the job market with a lot less jobs in manufacturing to absorb those leaving school at 16 years. In addition, our disadvantaged youths find themselves in competition with skilled and capable immigrants with a better work ethic. The generosity of the current benefits system is a further contributing factor in making the lower paid jobs taken by immigrants even less financially attractive for our own unemployed.
Finally there has been a failure in the home where politicians are demanding that parents control their children. However, whether at home or at school there is a lack of guidance and support from adults, particularly in the case of young single mothers, with the UK in addition having the highest rate for teenage pregnancies in Europe. As an example, mothers of young children considered at risk are five times more likely to be single teenage mothers. Despite this, since 1997 a single mother of two children has had her benefits increased by 85%. In responding to this financial incentive, young girls leaving school with no qualifications seem to get pregnant as naturally as their male counterparts turn to crime. The state has now taken over the role of both husband and employer in such homes where there is no family to even breakdown and where over 50% of single mothers have never even lived with the father of their children.
Harriet Sergeant concludes that for such young people to have a stake in our society, apart from the need for improved schooling we have to create jobs. This of course is one key growth policy aim of the Coalition to offset the effects of cuts in government spending.