Two stories about the rise in knife crime. The first from Lizzie Dearden in The Independent, the other from Temi Mwale for DoubleDown News. One is direct and to the point, the other is not.
Polly Toynbee savages George Osborne, to his face
Not even a savaging from Polly Toynbee can wipe the smug grin off Gideon “George” Osborne’s face.
And Gideon’s cogent rebuttal to this savaging, “I disagree with all that”. That is not an argument refuting the charges put to him. That is the reply of the playground bully, “I’m right, you’re wrong, now shut up”.
Knife crime and homicide figures reveal the violence of austerity
James Treadwell’s article in The Conversation make for grim reading. I see the latest crime statistics are confirmation in reverse of arguments put forward by the “rogue economist” Steven Levitt in Freakanomic.
In Freakanomics Levitt researched the statistics on crime in the 1990’s. He realised that the legalisation around abortion in the United States in the 1970’s was the reason crime came down in the 1990’s. Put simply, the unwanted children of the 1970’s were not born. Twenty years later, these children were not there to be the criminals of the 1990’s.
The Tories can only see the world from their position of privilege. They are wilfully blind to the pressures on the most vulnerable, because they have never been venerable. Austerity removed services that helped the most in need. No services there to intervene, to help, vulnerable individuals can easily become involved in things like crime.
The Tories presume it’s a choice to become involved in crime, as if the most vulnerable can choose to hide huge sums of money in off-shore accounts to avoid paying tax. Crime for the vulnerable is not a choice, it is a consequence. No money, poor housing, disrupted education, this list could go on, and on, and on. Show me a circumstance and I’ll give you a reason why someone might end up getting involved in crime.
It’s not as simple as the Tory narrative would have us believe. What they’re doing is blaming the victim for the crime, without seeing the cause.
There are no easy fixes for the problems caused by austerity. It’s taken ten years for austerity to get us where we are now. It may take ten years after it’s ended, if it ever does, to see crime figures decline.
What if austerity continues? What will Britain look like with ten more years of rising crime figures? If it’s a “war zone” now, what will ten more years of austerity bring, an apocalypse?
The reasons for the recent rise in knife and gun crime
This article in The Guardian asserts that “Knife and gun crime has surged in England and Wales, but the causes and solutions are unclear”. I don’t think the causes are unclear. The blame rests firmly at the feet of the Conservative Party and their policy of austerity.
Austerity has meant local authority budgets have been slashed, cutting support for all kinds of social programmes, there to help “at risk” kids stay out of trouble. Even something as simple as a youth club can provide early interventions, offering support to young people, and stop them getting involved in crime.
Those who think the causes are unclear should look at the work of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in their 2005 book Freakonomics. They argue access to abortions in the USA in the 1970’s reduced the crime rates in the 1990’s.
Crime rates in the 1990s came down because there were fewer unwanted pregnancies in the seventies and eighties. Women who felt they were not ready to care for a child, were able to terminate the pregnancy.
Apply that same logic to the rise in instances of gun and knife crime in the UK. The Home Office blames “changes in the nature of drug sales and use, highlighting crack cocaine, social media and music glamorising violence as among the issues fuelling the problem”.
I’m going to say that drug sales, social media, and music, are not the cause of the problem but a consequence. Austerity is the cause.
Ten years ago austerity started to remove support for youth programmes.
We now have a rise in gun and knife crime.
Is it really that hard to see the link?
The ever-so slightly patronising coverage of Jeremy Corbyn
I, like many, was horrified by the recent election result which brought another Conservative government to power. The day after the election someone asked me if I was disappointed. National Health Service gone. Affordable housing gone. Welfare gone. As far as I can tell austerity is an excuse to dismantle the welfare state, and I can’t believe people voted for the worst version of it. Too right I was disappointed.
The person who asked the question replied to my predictions with the ever-so slightly patronising “we’ll see”. This from someone who has never really had it tough. I don’t mean “can’t decide which holiday to go on” tough. I mean “can’t feed your kids” tough. How do I know they’ve never had it tough? I once overheard them, in a conversation about how hard it is to find somewhere to live in London, say “I just pick up the phone, tell them how much I earn, and they give me what I want”.
That’s not unusual, it presumes because others haven’t achieved financial success they’re weak or lazy. This attitude is all too common. It’s a soulless attitude that takes no account of personal circumstances, or the hardships most people go though just to survive. In short, it’s an egocentric view of the world, at the core of a model of rampant self-interest, this nation was infected with since Thatcher.
For me it’s an attitude implicit in the ever-so slightly patronising coverage of Jeremy Corbyn. I, like most people, had never heard of Jeremy Corbyn before the recent Labour leadership campaign, but I keep finding things that make me say “this guy is interesting”. He seems to be offering a genuine, straight talking, alternative to rampant self-interest at the core of the current social and political landscape, an attitude that puts the values and interests of the very few at the top of this vast pyramid scheme we call capitalism.
This is just a small example of what I mean when I say “the ever-so slightly patronising coverage of Jeremy Corbyn”.