In the wake of the 2011 Tottenham riots, social media exploded as subliminal fears of anarchy erupted in the populace, myself included. I remember staying up late into the night watching twitter and the BBC news website for updates. After about 1:00 am, little happened, but many social commentators then gushed forth on the subject. The debate on the cause and cure, and indeed what actually happened, is still going on, but it is becoming increasingly irrelevant, as David Cameron is trying to become the nation’s moral crusader.
You see, things aren’t going too well for old Davey Camrun. The economy is flatlining, and his chancellor has no ideas where to produce growth from. The health service reform he is pushing through the commons has been successfully demonised, rightly or wrongly, and his ministers have had to make several U-turns in critical policy decisions. So what better than a moral imperative to distract the electorate?
No one could argue with the idea that the riots were bad, and showed that something was wrong with the youth of the country, whether it was their fault or not. This fits in brilliantly with Cameron’s “Broken Britain”, and the success of the e-petition to remove rioters benefits gave him some concrete support for punitive policies against lawbreakers. Now on paper this sounds fine, but in reality, it is quite questionable. Whether you agree with the idea of the policy in a social framework or not, it sets a dangerous trend, as the concept is very populist.
Populism may seen great at the time, and I can understand right-wing people’s wish to see things done firmly. However, you have to ask yourself, is this really going to help? It often wins elections, but rarely solves problems. The facts are, removing benefits may be more likely to increase crime and violent crime than reduce it.
Even more worrying is Cameron’s recent idea to cut the benefits of people whose children play truant from school, as it moves further down the road of satisfying the electorate while not actually solving any problems; benefit cheats pull all sorts of tricks to get their money, and this is likely to push more dependants into illegal methods which furthers the culture of illegality seen in some deprived areas. From an economic perspective point of view the amount of money gained from not paying benefits to the parents of truant children is going to be minuscule, compared to the national debt, which is the real problem that this country faces.
Beware the Stick, as it may be a disguised Carrot for you.
Other possible Carrots in Disguise:
- The idea that the army should have been deployed on the streets,
- Reintroducing hard labour in Prisons,
- Scrapping inner city outreach groups as they are a waste of money,
- Binning most sorts of benefits,
- Saying that the country is Broken.