ISSN 2330-717X

Nightmare On London Streets – OpEd

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By Simon Lee

The winds of change have begun to blow in Britain as violence is creeping like a nightmare across the whole area. In fact, it is the worst violence in a generation in Britain.

Having deployed 16,000 police officers in London, the British government has exhibited signs of fear which is crippling a government which is at its wit’s end as to how to handle the crisis. British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened the use of water cannons to smother the flow which has swept Britain for four consecutive days.

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Unrest has been reported in cities including Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham, with stores and banks being looted, vandalized and set ablaze. Three men – two brothers and a friend died when they were hit by a car in Birmingham while they were protecting their property from being looted.

In a statement released outside No 10, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that police would be allowed to employ whatever resources they need to quell the riot. He revealed that: 1. Police are allowed to use rubber bullets any time they deem necessary; 2. Water cannons will be available at 24 hours notice; 3. Courts shall be conducting judiciary duties overnight to deal with riots cases. So far, hundreds of people have been arrested and interrogated; 4. Photographs of rioters will be published and their identities will be divulged. “Picture by picture, these criminals are being identified and arrested, and we will not let any phony concerns about human rights get in the way of the publication of these pictures and the arrest of these individuals.”; 5. Anyone involved in the riots will be sent directly to prison.

These desperate efforts by the British government represent a government in crisis, a government barely believing what’s happening in the country, and a government unprepared for such acts meant to play havoc with the social order and thus bring about radical changes in the system.

Expressing his ire at the events, Cameron has stated, “When we see children as young as 12 and 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of a young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear that there are things badly wrong with our society.”

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday morning, he said in a threatening tone that the police was “absolutely intent” on bringing the rioters to justice and that officers were already studying CCTV.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people, we have your image, we have your face, we have your acts of wanton criminality on film. We are coming for you, from today and no matter how long it takes, we will arrest those people responsible,” he said.

The present events are not at all irrelevant to the students protest some while go. What happened in London as student protest was not limited to the rise in tuition fees and among the protesters were people from all walks of life. Important among what they protested against were the rise in tuition fees, a cut in pensions and other social benefits and the growing rate in unemployment. In other words, the protesters demanded reforms in the social and administrative structures of the whole country while the British government turned a deaf ear to their demands and instead of judiciously tackling the problem and dealing with their demands, they resorted to brute force and crushed their protests.

Today, these protests manifest themselves in a different garment, the garment of rebellion. Vandalism is a social phenomenon; it is a type of rebellion and cannot be simply regarded as an act of hooliganism. It is a cry of protest against social norms. Yet, the British government prefers not to see that their rotten system is doomed to fail and that it has revealed it manifold threadbare superficiality. Their interpretation of the situation is so simple: the people on the streets are bunches of pyromaniac adventurists who seek no goals other than setting ablaze shops and public utilities and quenching their thirst for adventurism.

Undoubtedly, what is happening in Britain is not an Arab spring but it is certainly a heavy blow to the body of a ramshackle pseudo-democratic government in the West.

The winds of change have reached Great Britain though in a violent form and are proving that Great Britain is no longer “Great” and that it should put a stop to its wrong policies; British chickens come home to roost.

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