I don't often get the chance to write about things that happen in the 'real world', however, due to the events of recent days leading to the postponement of several football matches today, I have an, albeitrather weak, excuse to do so.
Lets start at the beginning. Saturday; A policeman shot a local man dead in Tottenham, North London. The family of the man, Mark Duggan, and some locals organised a peaceful protest at the fact that a policeman was able to shoot dead a civillian, although he was a local gangster carrying an illegal firearm. Anyway to cut a long story short, peaceful protest turned in to a mass riot which has now gone on every night since saturday. Businesses have been burnt to the ground, shops, homes and cars have been set alight and destroyed and town centres have been looted. People have woken up to find their livelihoods snatched away from them. Businesses they built up from scratch razed to the ground in the space of a few short hours and for what?
On Sunday night for the first time I reposted a 'chain status' on my facebook account. To cut a long story short, it was about how proud I am to be British. A fact which, at the time, I would never doubt or dispute. However, owing to the actions and scenes which I, along with millions of other British citizens have witnessed, My pride and faith in Britain, and England in particular, have been completely shattered. No more does this country deserve the moniker Great. To see the images of destruction,vandalism and criminality of the people of our country completely embarrased me and made me ashamed of the minority of the young people in this country.
The worst part about all of this is that it seems to have no meaning to it at all! OK, the peacful protest on saturday has some grounds, and maybe even the first night of riots. Fine, draw a line under it there. Maybe your point got across and things will change for the better. However to see this continue on to Sunday and Monday evening and spread throughout our capital and across the whole country is nothing short of ridiculous.
The only thing worse than this is the reasons that I have heard given by the mindless thugs that have been perpertrating these acts. One young girl claimed she was 'getting her taxes back'. A girl who looked like she hadn't even left school yet and wouldnt even be paying taxes. I have also heard people say it is because of the gap in wealth between the rich and poor getting wider coupled with a lack of opportunities for the young people. Now, I am sorry, but this a country of Wren, Brunel and Stephenson. Three men who both started out with nothing, even less than the young people of today. And yet they went on to create St. Pauls Cathedral, the Clifton suspension bridge and the steam engine respectively. All of these things helped make this country the best in the world and yet, all the pride that these images invoke have all been wasted, sullied, destroyed by the thugs who have been running amok recently.
Today David Cameron was kind enough to return from his holiday in Italy (two days too late if you ask me) to address the situation. To be fair, I was a little impressed with his response. increasing the police force to 16,000 on the streets of London is certainley a step in the right direction, although it does leave the rest of the country terribly exposed, and I like the sound of "if you are old enough to do the crime, you are old enough to do the time". However only time will tell if any of this makes a difference. Until then, the country remains gripped in fear of another night of rioting, looting and generaly senseless behaviour.
One thing that has also annoyed me about this is the statuses on facebook telling the people to go to Afganisthan if they really want to fight. Clearly the people who are posting this do not realise that the thugs dont want to fight. They are taking advantage of a severely stretched police force to comitt as much vandalism and robbery as they can. If these people were to go over there then they would not survive 5 minutes, although I guess that is a plus point.
I suppose all that we can hope for is a swift end to all of this carnage, that our police force show themselves to be the best in the world, to bring all of the yobs to quick and strong justice and make us all proud. Who knows, maybe in time we will be able to put the Great back in to Great Britain.