The rioting that has engulfed London and several other cities should have come as no surprise, given the huge numbers of unemployed and idle British youth.
A recent report from Britain’s Office of National Statistics indicated that joblessness among people between the ages of 16 and 24 has been rising steadily from 14.0 percent in the first quarter of 2008 (at the onset of the global financial crisis) to 20.0 percent in the first quarter of 2011 – an astounding 40 percent spike in just three years.
Thus, there are at least 1 million jobless youths in Britain.
Moreover, given the draconian cuts that the government has imposed upon the public in an effort to reduce the national deficit – in tandem with a history of violence erupting in urban areas during the summer, and simmering tensions between inner-city youths and police – the spate of riots was almost inevitable.
Earlier this year Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, warned: “These grim jobless figures show that rising unemployment is more than [a] blip, and that it could get much worse in 2011. With more than a fifth of young people out of work, we face a real danger of losing another generation of young people to unemployment and wasted ambition.”
Similarly, Paul Brown, director of the youth charity of The Prince’s Trust, admonished at that time: “Youth unemployment is like a dripping tap, costing tens of millions of pounds a week through benefits and lost productivity. And, just like a dripping tap, if we don’t do something to fix it, it’s likely to get much worse. It’s now crucial to give young people the support they need to prevent them from falling into the downward spiral of long-term joblessness. Transforming these young lives will have a huge impact on their families, communities as well as on Britain’s economy.”
During the current riots, Diane Abbott, a Labour MP who represents the riot-torn Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency of East London, told reporters: "These young people, who seem to have no stake in society, are trashing their own communities. We cannot continue to have increasing numbers of looters on the streets night after night."