Letters: Rich get richer, poor get poorer – riots are no surprise

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These youngsters are alienated, they do not feel they have a hope for a better life in our society, they do not want to improve their lives by "decent" means, they have given up hope of getting a job they can enjoy doing and earning a salary that would allow them to enjoy the goods they crave.

At the same time, we see rich people getting much richer every year. We are told we are all consumers and money is the ultimate value. What self-esteem can someone working on the minimum wage have?

Adverts state: "Because you are worth it", so you think that if you cannot afford it you are worth nothing and you do not deserve it.

We must not condone burning people's homes or other horrible acts, but we have to understand and change society to prevent its collapse. It is increasingly divided into haves and have-nots.

Abelardo Clariana-Piga, Southampton

It is disappointing, though not surprising, that the Prime Minister, having interrupted his holiday in Tuscany because of the riots, is immediately talking the language of retribution. We can't avoid noticing the contrast with Norway, where the first response to the recent mass killing was to reassert the value of democracy.

It must occur even to Conservative politicians that the rioting here is a product of a culture in which most of us, and all of them, collude. It is well know that in the UK the division between the privileged and deprived is widening. Even last week it was reported that the Government, despite frequently proclaiming the need for widespread cuts in expenditure, was considering reducing the top rate of income tax to 45 per cent, which would further widen the gap.

When underprivileged people find it increasingly difficult to find a purchase on the way of life that we are all encouraged to aspire to, it is not surprising that they lose hope and believe that society is not their friend.

Society is not a club and it must incorporate all of its members. Most of us share in the ostracism of the underclass when we support inhumane policies because the Government tells us they will save money, and in that way we are implicated in the riots.

Dennis Leachman Reading

In the past few years we have had the MPs expenses scandal and the banking bail-out. Huge bonuses continue to be paid to bankers. The police appear to be in the pocket of newspapers

Is it any wonder that the "have nots" think, "Well everyone else in on the take; I want my share"?

Brian Roffe, Sunderland

A whole world of bad examples

As a teacher, parent and now grandparent I have always been acutely aware that personal example is of the utmost importance when relating to children and young people. Also of high importance is the building of mutual respect.

What then do young, vulnerable minds make of pictures constantly on our television screens of war, unrest and revolutionary behaviour in countries around the world, which emphasise destruction? What image is formed by the reference to soldiers as the epitome of heroism? What example do they pick up on home soil from MPs' expenses scandals, the awarding of obscene bonuses to financial magnates even when they have fallen short, hacking scandals and so on?

The message is clear, forget respect for humanity and our precious planet, anything goes. Greed, exploitation and destruction are the way to show your real worth.

Of course in the days before television and instant media there were no such images to copy, only the example of one's parents, relatives, friends and neighbours.

John Hunwicks, Marnhull, Dorset

Sadly I, like many others, saw these riots coming. Parents, the police, teachers and courts are not respected by youngsters and are seen to have little control. The right of individuals overrides the common good.

War games on computers, the constant media obsession with celebrity, bankers' bonuses and the focus on getting rich as the key to happiness will inevitably take its toll on developing minds.

Communities are living in fear of gangs and cannot escape the drugs culture, and they know there are no jobs and painful cuts to come. What have these kids got to lose?

Never mind. When order is restored we can paper over the cracks until the next time.

H J Burton, Brinsley, Nottinghamshire

Punishments to fit the crime

As the country's cities are reduced to looting, arson, general violence and criminality, the predictable mantra from the liberal apologists is that the perpetrators are a deprived section of society.

I never realised that deprivation in the UK today meant walking the streets in top-end trainers and designer streetwear, and that the only way to alleviate this state of affairs is to burn down other people's businesses, thieve other designer goods and generally trash anything that you can get your hands on.

The overwhelming numbers of criminals that have been arrested will simply walk away with insignificant fines under public order offences that will be no doubt be paid for from the proceeds of their designer goods sales in a pub near you soon.

Many Londoners have attempted to restore some semblance of normality by cleaning up after the riots. The very least that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary should insist upon is that these scumbags should, before appearing in the courts, be made to clean up their mess, using designer brooms of course.

Derek Ross, Blessington, Co Wicklow, Ireland

Despite my usual liberal mindset, I cannot help thinking that the much-criticised "kettling" technique of the police would be usefully deployed in detaining the looters and thugs sufficiently close to a burning building to instil in them the terror and despair which their actions have inflicted on members of innocent communities.

Jackie Hawkins, Bedford

No-nonsense policing

My wife is from Bogota, in South America. As we watch the nightly horrors of these riots on TV news, I find she has an interesting perspective.

As feral scum were emptying an electrical shop, she said: "Doing stuff like that is exciting for a 15-year-old. The boys in Colombia would do that if they could."

"So why don't they?" I asked, inwardly admitting to myself that, after 6pm, I feel infinitely safer in downtown Bogota than I ever do in the streets of central Northampton.

"Because they're scared to. Our police are not gentleman, like yours are. They have water cannon, gas and guns and they use them."

K P Staples, Northampton

I find the general lack of support towards the police from the public more than distressing.

There have always been, are, and always will be, rogue members in any organisation, but the police officers, all of whom have parents or siblings or partners or children , deserve to have far more help and understanding from their communities.

They regularly have to put themselves in the front line and face the most appalling abuse and violence from the most appalling, ignorant thugs. All forces are stretched to the limit trying to protect our society from criminals, with the additional problems of potential terrorism.

Wouldn't it be nice if, just occasionally, people stuck up for them?

Farida Wilson, Macclesfield, Cheshire

Applying logic to a large dollop of hindsight, Boris Johnson belatedly acknowledges that the police cuts, put into place by this government and predicated by the previous government, cannot help to maintain order in chaotic times.

One wonders if Mr Johnson can apply his joined-up reasoning by also reversing his position on reducing the top rate of income tax. How can we hope to maintain our emergency services without first paying for them? Shall we wait for the market to put out the fires?

Angelo Micciche, St. Erth, Cornwall

No one respects the rules

I have no wish to excuse violence, robbery and wanton destruction, but Old Etonians Johnson and Cameron harping on about the need to restore respect and discipline in young people is hypocrisy writ large.

It is clear that for a large number of rioters simply the lack of external restraint of law and order has been sufficient excuse for them to act so badly, but are they unique? Lack of external restraint led to banker's greed causing untold economic misery, lack of external restraint led to widespread fraud and criminal activity among MPs, lack of external restraint led to criminal hacking in the media.

It is highly questionable who has done the most harm to our society, the rioters or the aforementioned groups, who unlike the rioters actually have power and influence. If the powers that be wish to effect change they should lead by example not by lecturing.

Dr Dave Morris, Sandwell, West Midlands

Wrecking communities, trashing businesses, making people homeless, walking off with loads of loot – who gave these lads permission to behave like bankers?

Tony Cheney, Ipswich, Suffolk

Carry a gun at your peril

It is my understanding that the law is pretty clear about unauthorised firearms. If an individual is carrying a gun that in the judgement of a police officer is loaded then the police have the right to use lethal force to prevent potential loss of life.

The gun does not have to be fired and does not have to be used in a threatening manner. The question as to who fired first is immaterial. Are people suggesting that the police should let suspected gangsters take the first shot before they feel justified to return fire?

I completely understand why Mark Duggan's family want answers from the IPCC, but they need to provide answers of their own as well, one of which is the justification for Mark Duggan carrying a loaded gun.

Alan Gregory, Manchester

On the altar of the market

Government think they can wholesale dismantle public infrastructure that holds society together and there will be no consequences. They think they can do this, on the high altar of the mighty markets, then all go off on summer vacation.

Housing benefit slashed, education and schools support slashed, youth and community group funding slashed. Whole generations of student debt sold to the banking sector. One million youths in UK unemployed and government expects these masses to meekly bow down and live on £68 a week and not be raging with bitter resentment.

What we see is youth self-empowering with modern technology and the ruling classes, and middle classes, are astounded. These youths are in the end the product of our society. This is what our super commercial world creates.

Jeff Williams, Poole

Children of Captain Morgan

On a day on which your journalists and letter writers lament the looting and destruction wrought in Britain's cities, you published an article on Sir Henry Morgan, who, among many misdeeds, looted ships and shelled Panama city (10 August). What is the moral difference between what the rioters were doing and what this subject of historical research did? There is none.

Morgan, though, did his looting under the English flag. Morgan did not attack Englishmen, his "in-group", but he attacked Spaniards, an "out-group". This is what the rioters were doing. Mainline society is outside their social group, so they loot it. They are probably quite kind to their grannies.

Francis Beswick, Stretford, Greater Manchester

Parliamentary gesture politics

The Prime Minister has taken the extraordinary and doubtless expensive step of recalling Parliament. Unless he proposes to declare war, this seems to be gesture politics at best and panic at worst. Isn't this the sort of thing he and the Home Secretary are supposed to deal with? He should realise that he is a big boy with a big job – running the Big Society.

Bernard O'Sullivan, London SW8

Testament of yoof

A teenager interviewed on the radio claimed that the police in Tottenham had not "interacted wiv da yoof". I thought the job of the police was to prevent crime, and the role of "da yoof" was to keep their heads down, earn a crust and obey the law.

Allan Friswell, Cowling, North Yorkshire

News from a strange season

Some silly season. The Murdoch scandals, the economy, Europe in turmoil, America downgraded, Middle East in revolt, and now riots in London. How I long for the old Loch Ness Monster stories in the silly seasons of yore!

Eddie Johnson, Long Melford, Suffolk

Oiks on the rampage

I find it ironic that the former hell-raising members of the Bullingdon Club, now running our country, are so horrified that young members of our society are following their example – but without wearing the correct uniform.

David Foster, Whatfield, Suffolk

Looking forward to the Olympics

I have just received an email from Travelodge informing me that August 2012 is going to be a very exciting time for London. With August 2011 in mind, I would prefer it to be very peaceful.

Ivor Yeloff, Norwich

The essential difficulty

You have kitted out a man for well over £500 (Fashion, 8 August), deeming the clothes to be "everyday essentials". No wonder there are riots and looting.

Rob Dunford, Manchester

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