About Last Night

The events that unfolded last night across London and in other cities. Was that social unrest of the disenfranchised? Or was it is opportunistic looting?

Ken Livingstone said some very interesting things on the BBC, these London Boroughs have faced and are facing huge spending cuts.
But is this about cuts in services? What have we become as a society?

Bankers who played fast and loose and with what consequence? Who picks up the pieces? A massive spending review, significant cuts, who loses services and opportunities? The poor and the ordinary people.

MP’s fiddle their expenses a few lose their seats, a couple faced the courts. They saw an opportunity and they exploited it. They thought it was OK. The consequences haven’t been hugely significant, a pat on the wrist, promises to pay back.
The media want a story, they wanted something that wasn’t their’s they saw an opportunity, they hacked the phones, they took the information for their own gain, to sell more papers and feed our greed for tit bits and gossip, at the expense of the victim.

I’ve seen TV images of angry young people attacking cars and buildings and the Police. People are angry, people may feel they have no voice.

When the Spanish youth, the Spanish people had a problem with Government and the state what did they do? They build peace camps, they took the streets in their thousands – voices together. Yes, there where some clashes with the Police but looting and destroying property and businesses? (click here).

I’ve seen a Police force overstretched and overwhelmed. I’ve seen TV images of looters, exploiting an opporunity, a planning which shop to hit next, what item to grab. Is that a protest – or is it pure opportunistic greed.

What I saw last night, was for me, the worst aspect of consumerism, the worst aspect of a society with a bloated celebrity culture. It was about gaining the latest ‘must have item’ by smashing a window. Community took a place a long way back, it didn’t matter. Individual gain mattered.

Clearly, those people, youths, grown-ups took the stuff they looted home, I don’t see reports this morning of parents/partners bringing it back? They looted with their friends, they took the stuff home to their families. There seems to be a whole swathe of people who think that’s OK.

What messages are we giving our young people, our children? We have gone very wrong somewhere? How do we put it right? What are our values? because today I feel that I’m living in Country where exploiting an opportunity without care for consequence seems to be OK for many and for many more is the opposite, it is abhorrent. Huge numbers have turned out today to clear up, that’s a very positive and powerful message but how can we engage all?

What are our values as a society? Because right now it’s lost on me and I fear for the future.


  1. working london mummy

    what a good summary. I have the same feelings. This is people who are just thinking about ‘me,me,me’ I have no sympathy for the causes of this it is not a protest it is criminality gone mad. At least not too many innocent people hurt.

  2. mum2babyinsomniac

    I haven’t got a telly at the moment and to be quite honest, I am quite glad. Lately watching the news scares me a lot, it scares me even more because I have brought someone into this world who is going to be left when I leave. What kind of world is this turning into? A not very nice one. I also fear for the future, great post x

  3. Julia

    A well written piece Gemma. I am really angry at what has happened because for me it is not about the cuts or being treated unfairly. It is about, as you say, opportunism to get 15 mins of fame on the backs of others folks homes and hard work. Very few of those rioters have any affiliation to a cause let alone the desire to make a difference!

  4. mothersalwaysright

    Great post, you echo my thoughts exactly.

    I understand that there are many who are angry about spending cuts and disappearing services, but I don’t see how smashing a shop window and taking a TV will make a difference. Once there is calm and this is all over, I think some big questions need to be asked about what is wrong with our society for this to have happened in the first place. We need to ask this question so that it doesn’t happen again.

  5. Frankie Parker

    Good piece. We now have a generation that expects things in life and when they can’t get it they think it is okay to go out and get it. there was a group on TV saying that they want respect, respect for what? Show the rest of society how you can contribute and then perhaps you will earn and get respect. Like the rest of us have to. The last few nights has been nothing about what happened last Thursday it is about opportunity, greed and criminality..

  6. Anna

    I tried to write something along these lines, but failed to do it as eloquently and comprehensively as you. I have no idea what our society has become, or why, or what we can do. I fear for my daughter too..what will our children have to deal with? What will they learn? It’s all a bit much really, and it’s upsetting and infuriating, and really what can we do?? x

  7. Amy

    This is ‘their’ (the perpetrators of the violence and theft) cultural mentality. They genuinely think ‘them’ against ‘us’. The ringleaders have had no opportunity or moral guidance. They don’t have a perception of what they can achieve as they have no concept of how things work. A business to them is owned by someone rich, not leased and managed with in most cases limited resources. They have no concept of the consequences of their actions. They have misguided beliefs of immigration and entitlement. When they rob they think it’s from the rich. Not someone who works to pay for their mobile phone / their possessions. Who might have real difficulty replacing them or have their work impeded when their possessions are nicked. Whole thing is pissing everyone off. Maybe ‘we’ can change things and this is the catalyst for people like me who do nothing to do more. I’m not advocating a Cameron big society that prick also needs to throw in some resources – though he can leave mentoring off his list in my opinion.

    1. helloitsgemma

      Thanks for the comment Amy – brilliant!
      The thing that makes me scream is all this was organised on ‘blackberry’ mobiles – the poor mans mobile – I think not. Clearly they are organised.
      Maybe we do need to do more, but perhaps that’s the problem – the expectation that someone else will do it. Cameron is so out of touch – Big society for whom? for what? All those fab people who cleared up – would have no impact on the youths that made the mess in the first place.

  8. Blue Sky

    “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
    Plato, 4th Century BC

    I’m not trying to downplay what is happening in the UK, but this has happened before. And it seems that some of the people before the courts are middle class and employed. I think too many people are jumping to conclusions – the number of articles I’ve seen saying that this is all the fault of immigrants and single mothers! – and what is needed is a proper analyis of what happened and who was involved and to try and found out really why they did it – and not just provocative sound bites for TV!

    1. helloitsgemma

      Thanks for comment – very true and loved the quote.
      The whole single mother/immigrants thing is so predictable.
      It seems the focus is punishment – which is understandable, but we need to understand why and make fundamental changes. They have alienated so many people with their behaviour that it is difficult to see beyond that – had they chosen a different way to express their issues I am sure many people would stand with them.

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