First known as the London Riots, then changed literally overnight to the England Riots, the recent violence that swept the country now runs up against firm police resistance. This, of course, is all too late for the unfortunate victims of senseless destruction of property and livelihoods. The riots, apparently spearheaded by thrill-seeking teenagers, quickly became worldwide news as they were plastered onto TV screens everywhere.
When looking over this media sensation, and all the attendant scenes of mindless anarchy, one is almost at a loss where to begin. David Cameron’s resolution to tackle the riots? The deaths of three men as they protected their property in Birmingham on 10 August? Or Ken Livingstone’s cheap political point-scoring in blaming this affair on the Conservatives? The Prime Minister’s stance will prove a make-or-break position; the deaths of those three men, as with all the suffering felt recently, is tragic; Livingstone’s remarks, and those of his colleagues, are unsurprising.
…opportunistic Labour MPs passed the blame onto the Conservatives…
Though armchair radicals were, at first, happy to declare the riots a repeat of the student protests, even they quickly realised this was no glorious proletarian uprising but simple anarchy. Once that was clear, a number of opportunistic Labour MPs passed the blame onto the Conservatives – one such MP even somehow concluded (of course) that the example set by bankers was to blame. Shameful as it is to take advantage of innocents’ loss for political sound-bites, to say nothing of their doubtful nature, even such absurd fiction was eclipsed during this sorry episode.
On 9 August, Reuters reported that the Iranian Foreign Ministry had the temerity to call on the UK government to “exercise restraint” against the rioters. Moreover, a member of the Iranian parliament even suggested that a delegation of human rights monitors be allowed to observe the situation. One wonders if this is some grim joke, or if Ahmedinejad’s cronies have actually forgotten their own – or their Syrian ally’s – recent crackdowns. Iran, notably, was conspicuous in its absence of condemnation for the Syrian government of late; even Saudi Arabia, that paragon of individual rights, spoke against President Assad’s brazen despotism.
…remember how fortunate we are to live in a country such as this…
Though seemingly disparate, these issues, together, can hold significant meaning for us. That is, when considering the England Riots, we should still remember how fortunate we are to live in a country such as this. A country, where the worst we might expect to suffer is a pack of young nihilist thugs, not organised repression; a country, where the principles of liberty, reason and individuality still count for something. While we count the cost of the riots, that should surely be something worth being thankful for. Syrians and Iranians, sadly, cannot count themselves so lucky.