The UK Government’s Marie Antoinette moment

Says the ironically-named UK “Community” Services Minister, asked about his government’s monstrously unjust and unbelievably stupid plan to impose extra punishment on the poorest rioters and looters by kicking them (and their parents) out of their homes, and cut them off any welfare:

Asked how those penalised would live, Mr Pickles responded: ”They could get a job.”

LET THEM EAT CAKE.

Seriously, how out of touch are these muppets?

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34 responses to “The UK Government’s Marie Antoinette moment

  1. Genius.

    1) Take a bunch of unemployable people who have shown they have no respect for the law and no sense of community.

    2) Throw them out on the street with no money, no home and no job.

    3) ?

    4) Profit.

    What’s the bet ‘?’ involves building a shit load of prisons?

  2. Splatterbottom

    Couldn’t agree more. The Community Services Minister should apologise for all the government short-comings that have caused this mess. The government has let these people down so badly. It should immediately send each rioter a full Adidas wardrobe, four pairs of joggers, two flat-screen TVs and a BMW. The fundamental cause of this problem is that multiculturalism has not been taken far enough. It is high time the government stopped demonising these close-knit communities as ‘gangs’. They have been made to feel like criminals by the rich fascist shop-keepers who are nothing more than a blight on society.

    The police need to get back to work and protect the rioters from the vigilantes who are inflaming the situation. The police need to re-engage with this down-trodden marginalised community. A good starting point would be for recreational rioting to be made a compulsory sport at all schools, with police donating their time to coach the students. Also, the self-esteem of the gang members would be greatly enhanced if they were given the role of providing security and enforcing discipline at schools and local communities.

    So enough of the vindictive macho posturing of the politicians. They need to understand that their role is not protecting the wealthy denizens of working-class neighbourhoods who already have a job, nor is it providing cover for rich shop-owners who ruthlessly exploit the less fortunate.

    Respect to Starrish Mark and his crew.

  3. Jeremy, everyone knows that history is a leftist conspiracy by university professors to undermine the glory of empire by publishing dry and boring facts about what actually happened. Why would David Cameron and his buddies read such tripe, let alone learn from it?

  4. God you can be boring sometimes SB.

    Obviously anyone who committed an offense should be punished, either with prison time or community service depending on the severity of their crime. No one is suggesting anything to the contrary.

    But i am curious as to why you think its fair that people on welfare be subject to additional punishment than that meted out to those rioters who were employed?

    I’m also open to suggestions as to what benefit you think will be gained by flooding the streets with thousands of unemployable homeless criminals?

  5. narcoticmusing

    Perhaps it is the hubris that those well off people who didn’t lose their housing and had no other motive than greed to loot can feel

  6. Pingback: Oh Penbo | Pure Poison

  7. Splatterbottom

    Duncan this particular knee-jerk response will not fix much. The whole welfare system needs a major re-think. It is not enough to give people housing and money and leave them to their own devices in welfare ghettos. I would be thinking more along the lines of offering gang-members a change of lifestyle away from London, coupled with some community service.

  8. ” I would be thinking more along the lines of offering gang-members a change of lifestyle away from London, coupled with some community service.”

    Thats kind of like what they did a couple of hundred years ago — it was called Australia ;o)

    I agree though, community service would be the best penalty for those involved in these riots, fines are pointless when imposed on people who have no money and jail time will just compound their sense of alienation and bitterness.

  9. Cutting welfare of access to NHS is populist BS and would never pass, council housing on the other hand is not a universal entitlement like the NHS and is only meant for the most needy. It is a condition of their tenancy that they not be involved in criminal behaviour.
    I think the rights of the other council tenants to live in a safe community if more important than cheap rents for convicted criminals, and for every criminal evicted an opening comes up for someone more deserving to move in. There is certainly a dash of populism in the rushed evictions, but fuck em. There are poor people that wait years and years for a spot in council housing, why should they keep criminals?

  10. narcoticmusing

    So comic, you endorse entire families being evicted for the acts of one minor?

  11. Splatterbottom

    So Narcotic how do you propose to protect the ordinary families who want a peaceable existence to enable them to get on with their lives and work to improve their circumstances?

  12. narcoticmusing

    I certainly wouldn’t start by provoking more violence…

  13. SB.

    Do you really think forcing thousands to become homeless and cutting their benefits so they have nothing to live on is going to help provide a “peaceable existence” for anyone?

  14. Splatterbottom

    Yes, but would you do, Narcotic?

    I admit haven’t got any clear answer to this issue, but I would be interested in any ideas you have for improving matters. I’m interested in finding ways to transmit strategies that have worked for other disadvantaged people and groups and enabled them to improve their circumstances. A lot of this comes down to values and attitudes.

  15. Splatterbottom

    Duncan: “Do you really think forcing thousands to become homeless and cutting their benefits so they have nothing to live on is going to help provide a “peaceable existence” for anyone?”

    Did I say anything like that? Or did I say: “I would be thinking more along the lines of offering gang-members a change of lifestyle away from London, coupled with some community service.”?

    I think it is time to re-think the whole welfare paradigm. Knee-jerk responses from opportunist politicians are not going to help much.

  16. narcoticmusing

    I agree with those last sentiments (that you’ve expressed on a few of the related forums on this topic). Certainly, we should look to where there are similar situations where strategies have worked – which would mean not looking to the US. Australia is often guilty of implementing policies here just because the US or UK have done it without considering if they worked.

    I suppose the first part of any strategy to address it would be to demonstrate that the rule of law is the same for everyone – rich or poor. To reinstall that sense of virtue that the law of the law. Which is why I am so fundamentally opposed to evictions of families for the deeds of a few; first of all it is a punishment outside of the court’s gambit; secondly it is collective punishment for the deeds of a few which will always imbue a sense of injustice (because it is unjust) rather than the aim; and finally because it says that the people with any reason of actually protesting/rioting will get punished simply for being poor – which is the exact trigger that started the riot (granted, rioting is not ok, but I am saying that some did it for a reason, others simply did it to take advantage of a bad situation). So step one would be to call for fair and just punishments; to ensure that everyone is given a fair hearing; to ensure that your social economic status does not mean you get additional punishment far more crushing than what the court could’ve provided.

    It is wrong to ask ‘what about ordinary families’ – those in the riots WERE ordinary families, from all walks of life. To protect ‘ordinary families’ we need to show everyone that the law is equal to all. That is not currently the case.

  17. “So comic, you endorse entire families being evicted for the acts of one minor?”
    I’m more comfortable with it than I am with the general consensus that parents have no responsibility for the behaviour of their children. There is a breakdown when you see kids of 12 or so rioting late at night, that’s a failure of the parents more than anything and they need to be held to account much more than they are.

  18. narcoticmusing

    So what if it was one parent? Or a couple? Should the ENTIRE family pay for that one independent adult’s choice?

  19. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic, I agree that rule of law is important. I was looking more at changes to make it less likely that this sort of thing will happen again. This article looks at one approach and its short-comings. Cameron has announced an inquiry to look at the issues. Interestingly Cameron announced welfare reform in February. I wonder if it was ever implemented?

  20. And? If you break the rules of a tenancy agreement in the private market the eviction notice wont be for just one person. Why should public housing be different?

  21. duncan
    SB.
    Do you really think forcing thousands to become homeless and cutting their benefits so they have nothing to live on is going to help provide a “peaceable existence” for anyone?

    It will for the small handful of people who don’t like thinking about the fact that “the poor” or “depressed communities” are allowed to exist.

    Not that I have anyone specific in mind – and certainly not the bloke who said this
    http://reasonablegrounds.blogspot.com/2011/08/david-camerons-2006-hoodie-speech-in.html

    Speaking of which, when Marie Antoinette was told that the poor had no bread, she never said “Let them eat cake”.

    She’s not on record as responding in any way at all.

    Which, when you think about it, is kind of worse.

  22. Are the families of looters not guilty of being both in receipt of stolen goods ( for items such as tv’s, stereos etc) and accessories after the fact ?

    Surely these “innocent” families would be questioning where their kids’ new pair of Nikes or iPad, or whatever other items they nicked came from and then would be returning those items to their rightful owners.

    Perhaps a lawyer could explain.

  23. narcoticmusing

    Again, I replied, but WordPress doesn’t like me atm. Sorry SB – would’ve made an interesting conversation :)

  24. narcoticmusing

    Actually comic jester, the covenants in a tenancy agreement are independent from one another, so there is not necessarily an eviction at the end of any one violation.

  25. narcoticmusing

    Gavinm – to be really simplistic and notwithstanding it could be slightly different int he UK, accessories after the fact would need to be involved in knowing reciept of stolen goods (which can include willful blindness) ie they’d need to gain some benefit and/or knowingly cover it up. Note the key here is that they needed to know it was stolen which is a subjective state (again I’m being overly simplistic because depending on the offence, the ‘reasonable person ought to have known’ test can kick in too).

  26. Thanks narcotic,

    It would make an interesting court hearing I suspect — it would be pretty obvious that the family would know that the looted items were stolen, (lets face it, new X-boxes & HD tv’s, for example, don’t just drop out of the sky – even in riots), but actually proving they know would probably be difficult. It probably would hinge on that ‘reasonable person ought to have known’ test.

    Which leads to something of a dilemma, as much as I don’t like the idea of evicting people, if there are rules about criminal behaviour surrounding their tenancy and they are aware of, and break those rules, then its hard to argue that they have more right to be in that house than a law-abiding family on the waiting list.

  27. narcoticmusing

    It is more complex than that Gavinm.

    Here are some issues to consider.

    a) diminished responsibility of a minor (ie can you then apply the penalty to the whole household)
    b) the impact on other children within the household (so if it is a parent and/or a sibling, why should other children pay – certainly the children cannot question the parents and become accessories).
    c) Why not just evict the ONE person who committed the breach? The whole family have not breached.
    d) Each covenant in a tenancy agreement is independent, one does not link to the other. So for example, if the landlord does not do repairs, you cannot just stop paying rent – ie they are not linked. There is recourse you can take, but not paying the rent is not one of them. Similarly, and this is where much of the legal controversy seems to be coming from in the UK, is that right to evict/re-enter is not linked to not committing criminal breaches (similar to landlord breach of duty is not linked to tenant paying rent). Thus, Cameron is actually restrospectively changing the agreement to enable evictions – that is why there is a lot on this. If it were already in the tenancy agreement that ‘if any occupant commits a crime the State reserves the right to immediately re-enter’ it would be different, but apparently that is not the case. For example, there are many tenants that have committed crimes and been able to remain, but those that committed a crim in the riots are being expelled – this is inconsistent and thus unjust. I’ve only seen tenancy agreements in a couple boroughs, and they very much DO NOT link eviction with criminality as per rent/repairs. I don’t know if others do, but if they did, then they wouldn’t have had to wait for Cameron’s actions.
    e) Shelter and tenancy in possession (ie home occupation interest) is a human right according to multplie human rights instruments that the UK have ratified.
    f) Many of those that were poorest had a reason to be outraged/revolt – ie, you could understand their anger. Why then, punish them MORE than someone motivated only by greed? Such as the middle class folk who just joined in later?

    Just a few issues to consider :)

  28. “I would be thinking more along the lines of offering gang-members a change of lifestyle away from London, coupled with some community service.”?

    Thats possibly a very good idea, but it could go badly wrong. If its too punitive it isn’t gonna help. The only thing that’ll work with those sort of people is to give them something worthwhile to live for. Give them a chance to feel like they matter and can contribute. Don’t just have em scrubbing dunnies and laugh at ‘em for it, or remind them how bad they are. Get em building stuff and helping people. The biggest issue with criminal gangs is that compassion and decency are considered weakness. If you can break that mental straightjacket then the rest will follow.

  29. All very good and valid points narcotic, I agree with you on the complexity of the issue and the desire to not punish the disadvantaged more harshly than the opportunists who joined in for the free-for-all – that’s the dilemma though, because whatever punishment is meted out will almost certainly affect the poor more than the more well off, especially given that there are a number of councils who have already said they want to evict those involved.

    I’ve also read that at least one family, (mother & son by Wandsworth council), has already been served with an eviction notice due to the son’s participation in the riots, so it would seem that at least some boroughs do have this rule in place — the eviction does have to go before the courts though, it’s the first one, so depending on the verdict, it will almost certainly set the precedent for more to come.

    Whatever happens, there’s no easy answers and when this all simmers down, unless there are some radical changes made to social policy over there, the underlying causes are still going to be there waiting to surface again.

    “Many of those that were poorest had a reason to be outraged/revolt – ie, you could understand their anger.”

    Although I can understand their anger – I don’t believe that anger gives them the right to smash up other peoples’ businesses and property, and certainly no right to kill people, throw missiles at drivers and assault and mug people who were just going about their daily lives, nor to attack fire brigade members who were trying to put out fires and save lives, including those of the looters themselves.

  30. narcoticmusing

    Nobody is suggesting their anger gave them a right to do any of what they did, I was merely suggesting that their motive is less dispicable than purely greed.

  31. Their motives may well have been less despicable than purely greed, but they have to be judged on their actions as well.

  32. narcoticmusing

    I don’t dispute that.

  33. But that’s what happens when public order fails (and/or police systemically arrogate power of punishment to themselves, which amounts to the same thing).
    The name of the game, failing all else, becomes “Getting Your Share”.

    Look at what got looted and/or torched. Not the owner-operated corner stores that accept milk tokens for any shop item (they weren’t touched); it was places like Tesco (which has been swollowing such places up from day one). Or Debenhams (an “appointment only” boutique). Or Foot Locker ($400 sweatshop shoes anyone?).

    It was never places that poor people could afford to go to. In much the same way that stop-and-search (for which reasonable suspicion is optional) was never used on whites.

    I know I’ve linked to this already, but it’s worth reading twice.
    http://reasonablegrounds.blogspot.com/2011/08/david-camerons-2006-hoodie-speech-in.html

  34. “Look at what got looted and/or torched. Not the owner-operated corner stores …”

    I’d suggest you look again, Lykurgus — I don’t think the looters were as discerning as you seem to think

    http://www.delootlondon.co.uk/list.html

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