Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Everyday life of the excluded ones on riot

Nineteen-year-old Louis James with a pale complexion told Landon Thomas Junior of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) that 'I came here to get my penny's worth'. He was speaking of the London riots in the UK. Mr. James has never had a proper job and only learned to read three years ago after he left school. He had taken a £120 Fred Perry shirt that he says he stole from a looted shop on the high street of Camden Town, which the IHT describes as 'a gentrified area of North London'. Today's IHT reports: ''On Monday night, Camden Town - along with other areas in east, west and northern parts of this vast city - became an urban battlefield that pitted the riot police and their dogs against angry mobs of bottle-throwing teenagers.'

The IHT notes: 'Politicians, police officials and many residents of the areas affected have been quick to describe the riots as criminal and anarchic, lacking even a hint of the anti-government, anti-austerity message that has driven many of the protests in other European countries that have sometimes descended into violence.' The IHT reporter, Landon Thomas, writes that 'to a large extent that is a fair assessment.' But, Mr Thomas claims: '... the riots shine a light on a deeper vein of alienation and hopelessness that is afflicting many young people in Britain, where on million people aged 16 to 24 are officially unemployed, the most since the deep recession of the mid-1980s'

The IHT reporter, Mr Thomas, claims: 'In many ways, Mr James is typical. He lives in a government-subsidized flat in North London and receives jobless benefits of £76, or $123, every two weeks even though he says that he has largely given up looking for work. His mother can barely support herself, his step-brothers and step-sisters. His father who was a heroin addict, is dead.' And 'he says he has been in and out of too many schools to count and left the education system when he was 15.' Mr. James says: 'No one has ever given me a chance; I am just angry at how the whole system works.' It seems that he would like to get a job in a retail store but admits that he now spends most days watching television and just trying to get by then he asserts: 'That is the way they want it', without specifying who 'they' are and he concludes that 'they just give us enough money so that I can eat and watch TV all day' and 'I don't even pay my bills anymore'.

The Landon Thomas writes that 'Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic & Social Research in London, says that Mr. James's plight reflects a broader trend here ... proper, more difficult students', and he says these 'have not been receiving the attention they should, because teachers, who are under pressure to meet educational targets, focus on children from more stable homes and those with greater abilities and social skills.' And, with more bosses demanding higher skills most of these kids have never had a proper job and have been excluded from the labour market.

The number of young jobless has nearly doubled since 2008, pushing youth unemployment up to 20% and with an economy that's stagnant and further budget cuts coming this isn't going to get better in the near future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two events in the catelogue of happenings during the present insurrection have not had any time spent on them to a satisfactory end. I refer to the reports of the right wing intervention in the events,i.e. The English Defence League. This was reported on TV, Ch. 4 news.[?] There is the shockng event of 3 young men being killed by a car being driven in to them. Am I alone in being suspicious of the event and the fascists?