As the MSM frets and bothers in the wake of the riots, the real world outside the bubble gets on with the job of clearing up. A good friend of mine works at a 6th-form college not far from Croydon, and has some interesting observations.
Real people and their anecdotal evidence offer three advantages over journalists. They don’t have an agenda, they aren’t getting paid for their opinions, and they tend to live in the places hit worst by social unrest because they have to not, unlike many young journalists resident in Hoxton, Brick Lane and Hackney, because it’s hip. They see things happen rather than read about them on Twitter.
My friend – we’ll call him Paul – has three main observations.
Firstly, on A-level results day, the college was suddenly buzzing with student life again after the silence of the holidays [Paul works there year round]. The students had come in to get their results. More than that, though, many of them had clearly come in to show off their new acquisitions: box-fresh trainers, jewellery, designer clothing and other shiny things. Youth violence, Paul has overheard students claiming, is now increasingly about one gang trying to access the ‘horde’ of a rival gang.
Secondly, and also concerning gangs, is the revelation which disgusted me most. There are, at Paul’s estimation, 70 to 80 known gang members at the college. The teaching staff, in addition to the rest of their onerous duties, have to organise an entirely unofficial rota system to ensure that students from rival gangs don’t attend the same lessons. This wearying logistical exercise is, of course, unrecognised and unpaid.
Thirdly, Paul spoke to two rather sensible, grounded girls whose stories seemed entirely plausible. They told Paul about their area on the worst night of rioting. Two hundred or so locals had come on to the streets to defend their property and businesses. At one point, some wannabe looters had appeared on bikes and made for a local shop. One of them was quite badly beaten, in full view of the police, who took the failed looter away when the local people were finished with him. None of this made even the local newspaper. Even more than copycat rioting, the establishment fears copycat vigilantism, unless it is carried out by approved ethnic groups. As I once opined to a friend concerning Islamist terrorism, the one thing government fears more than radicalised mosques is radicalised pubs.
The testament of real people, bloggers included; accept nothing less.