Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Riots Solved: Bring Back National Conscription

So there we have it, what started out as a peaceful demonstration against the shooting of a man in Tottenham has spiralled out of control into three nights of rioting that has now spread to other parts of the country.

And the commentators opinions being aired on the news vary from those wishing to condemn society for creating this situation and the fact that these people are the great ignored to those who feel this has nothing more to do with anything than criminality and opportunism.

As ever there seems to be a load of comments offering up reasons as to why these riots occurred but very little in the way of solutions; and not just ones to placate the people taking part in these riots either. It is as if people are afraid to put their suggestions on the table for fear of being pilloried for appearing to be too radical or insensitive to the situation.

Perhaps neither set of opinions are right but from the coverage I have seen one thing is for certain these rioters aren’t doing this for a statement; if it is then it is a fashion statement. They know the difference in value between looting a Poundstretcher or B&M Bargains and looting a JD Sports or an Armani shop.

To me what has evolved from that peaceful demonstration outside the Tottenham police station has nothing to do with the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham last week and everything to do with a coordinated spate of opportunism as people group together and take advantage of that incident for their own means.

The majority of the rioters caught on camera appear to be young, masked and extraordinarily knowledable about designer brands of footwear and clothing; there is no cause to be fought for here, just bundles of designer gear and cash.

So what possible solution can be tabled to stop this happening again?

There seems to be a lot of people on the various comment boards and social networking sites saying these rioters have nothing to lose and are a lost generation forgotten by society; fine then let’s give them something to aim for in their lives.

I see it as a gradual erosion of authority undermined by a small minority of school children who see the media-dominated landscape in which we live full of people (I shall refrain from calling them celebrities) making a living out of being basically good at very little apart from keeping themselves in the public eye, from which they somehow make a living; the Big Brother generation perhaps?

Young, impressionable children who watch these shows and aspire to the lifestyle seem to give up on their studies believing they can follow in their heroes footsteps and as a consequence leave school with little or no education and very little in the way of prospects. If they fail then society, via the benefits system and other mechanisms will bail them out so what is their risk?

I know I am simplifying the situation here but I think we have all seen enough young children on TV talk about their desire to become a WAG, a singer on X-Factor or a reality TV show star to grasp what is happening to these young, impressionable minds.

I would propose this: if you leave school at 16 or 18 then you either go to college, get a training placement, get a job or you go into some form of national conscription where you will learn a skill.

Being sat at home on benefits is not an option. So if you fail at school you have a choice of these options and hopefully you will be able to regain your self esteem and a skill that will provide you with employment and respect.

National conscription needn’t mean just going into the military either. It could mean working for the voluntary services, helping others in society who are in need of assistance and gaining respect in your community for participating in schemes that put back rather than just take out.

I know this is a very simplistic view but in principle and with a lot of debate and structure I think this is a sound basis from which we can build and stop our children leaving school and just sliding into a nothingness of an existence and make them more responsible for their own destiny rather than blaming everyone else.

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