Not the Big Society

but something else, something better. Today I went down to Hackney for a couple of hours to help with the cleanup. I was amazed by the lack of damage. Other than the Western Union/off-license in Clarence Road (see below), you’d have been hard pushed to identify it as a the location of a riot just a few hours beforehand. A good reminder that the mainstream media have been fairly sensationalist about some of the specifics. (This is also a good reminder that the mainstream media has a very specific agenda).

Mare Street

A lot of windows have been replaced this morning (I assume) and a few were in the process of being fixed. It’s a great testament to public sector workers – fire crews and street cleaners in particular – that the damage has been kept to such a minimum and so rapidly cleaned up. Are people really still banging on about their non-existent ‘gold-plated pensions’?

Appetite for Destruction (sorry, bit obvious)

Other than several shops being closed it was a normal morning in Hackney. Except there were people all over the place with marigolds and brooms. I found a small group clearing up the remains of a burnt out car on Goulton Road. The rubber tyres had melted and stuck the wire inners and pieces of glass to the road. It stank, improbably, of fish sauce.

Estate agent with smashed door. Renovation opportunity.

Two local workers from an electrical repairs firm were coordinating as it was outside their shop. About five other volunteers were there, sweeping up, chipping rubber, glass and metal off the road, and washing the tarmac down. Eventually a street-cleaning vehicle turned up and gave the whole area a good hosing, and off we went.

Cleaning up

I will be furious if Cameron even thinks about hijacking the cleanups in the name of the ‘Big Society’. I feel I only had to be out there because the ‘Big Society’ has failed so abjectly to give our youth anything better to do of an evening than trash their neighbourhood. I don’t support the police, who I feel are deeply culpable in all this, nor the government which has done all it can to slash and burn what limited resources were available to those in poorer parts of London. I was there because this is my community and it’s about time I started acting like it. (By the way, many of the clean-up crew were committed lefties, from various conversations I had, and of various stripe.) Tomorrow, we clean up Tottenham.

The looted and burned out shop on Clarence Road

Cleaning up is only a tiny fraction of what needs to be done. Youth services must be restored, the EMA must be reintroduced, and we must push for a strategy which has full employment as its aim instead of a vast reserve army of disgruntled, alienated people – people young, old, and of all ethnicities and genders.

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Three cheers for the #riotwombles. Sorry I can’t be out there.

    • It’s a small thing but it can help, I think. Interestingly (predictably?) most cleaner uppers in Hackney were white and audibly middle class (and mostly hipster looking). Possibly motivated by guilt and recognition of the structural factors at work…? Don’t know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: