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Did a ‘feral Underclass’ Spearhead the Riots?

Posted on the 06 September 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Did a ‘feral underclass’ spearhead the riots?

Hackney, London, August 9, 2011. Photo credit: Alexander Tsangarides

Writing in The Guardian, Clarke said that three-quarters of the convicted rioters over age 18 were known criminals whose previous punishments had failed to change their behavior. The “dreadful” penal system had helped create a “feral underclass,” argued Clarke, who argued for a renewed focus on rehabilitation of offenders.

  • Clarke and Cameron don’t see eye to eye. George Eaton at New Statesman’s Staggers blog seized on Clarke’s “feral underclass” comment: “How such language helps tackle what Clarke rightly calls our ‘appalling social deficit’ remains unclear.” Regardless of Clarke’s tough language, Eaton insisted that Clarke’s message is strikingly different from David Cameron’s blunt call for zero tolerance. “The two remain irreconcilable. Officially, the coalition still plans to cut more than 2,500 prison places but Cameron has vowed that the government will provide ‘the prison places necessary that the courts decree.’” Cameron’s position creates “not ideal conditions for Clarke’s justice revolution. But it could take a (prison) riot before Cameron changes course,” concluded Eaton.
  • We need an inquiry to better understand riots. Fraser Nelson of The Spectator’s Coffee House blog suggested that Clarke’s analysis is overly simplistic. “But is this the whole story?,” queried Nelson. “How many of those convicted finished school? How many were brought up in a workless household, how many by a lone parent, how many in one of London’s welfare ghettoes? Did their racial composition match that of their neighbourhoods (I suspect it did, and that race is not a factor in the riots). How many are deemed to have belonged to a hardcore, and how many swept along with the mood?” Nelson argued that without a proper inquiry into the riots, “everyone will be repeating whatever they thought before but louder and referencing the riots. This is not the way that lessons are learned.”
  • The right-wing Old Holborn blog, a staunch opponent of political correctness, argued that, “they are a feral underclass because our Political masters MADE them an underclass whilst telling them they were equal to hard working, honest, law abiding, ambitious citizens. They were entitled to all the trappings of success because no one had the courage to tell them they were not successful, they had failed” Old Holborn rejected Clarke’s calls to focus more on rehabilitation and urged the government to get tough: “You will not remove this underclass by prison sentences or ‘rehabilitation’ or yet more ‘diversity.’ You will only remove them by removing their entitlements. Refuse to work? Face the consequences – no money, no support. Refuse to study? Face the consequences. The only work you will ever find is manual, minimum wage. No Disneyland for you, no Nike trainers, no iPhone … They have to be shown the cold, hard facts that all of our ancestors knew. You get out of society what you put in, no more, no less.”

“Once this generation have run out of shops to loot, they will come for YOUR stuff because they genuinely believe, as they were taught by endless armies of bearded sandal wearing Lesbians, that they’re entitled to it,” warned the somewhat alarmist Old Holborn blog.

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