Sunday, 14 August 2011

Letter sent to South London Press for weekend edition 12 August:

As people begin to assess the causes for the events in south London in the past few days (“This is something Cops thought might happen”,  SLP 9 August) the leaders of the main political parties seem uniformly committed to both supporting the need to increase policing and just as fervently denying that ‘the cuts’ had any bearing on what has happened.  

Even if we were to ignore the police killing of Mark Duggan last week and the ongoing doubts about the role of the police in the death of local reggae artist Smiley Culture, South Londoners shouldn’t be surprised that things ‘kicked off’. We live in a country where greed is well rewarded if you’re a banker or one of the 1,000 richest people whose fortunes increased by £333 billion last year alone. If you’re one of the forty people chasing every job vacancy in Peckham & Camberwell –and soon not even a Job Centre to visit if the planned closure of the Camberwell office goes through – getting into employment is three times as difficult as it was 12 months ago. And they say ‘the cuts’ haven’t made a difference!

For those who are saying that it is family breakdown and community support that allows riotous behaviour, can anyone really believe that south London boroughs cutting 20% from early years’ intervention schemes is going to help? Or that the recent scrapping of two anti social behaviour projects by Southwark Council will help communities devastated by high unemployment?  Cuts have made things worse, and they will get worse still unless we challenge those politicians who are prepared to justify cuts when the finance sector in the City of London is awash with money.

Those of us who remember the riots of the 1980s will also recall that those involved were branded as ‘mere criminals’ just as many of the student protesters demonstrating against the withdrawal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and tripling of Tuition fees were last winter. The people involved in the events of the past week may or may not have considered their actions ‘political’ but one thing is certain, it is the politicians who need to provide the funding, resources and the employment that is needed, and it’s everyone’s job to campaign against them when they try to cut these things.

Chris Kelly
Secretary, Southwark save Our Services campaign

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