Crikey. Bit of Cleggy-bashing going on here isn't there? I don't mean to point out the staggeringly obvious, but when you go into a coalition government, it means compromise – if you’re the smaller party, you have less bargaining power. You have to ditch some of your policies to get others accepted and vice versa. The alternative is to continue doing nothing from the sidelines, but with your 'perceived integrity' intact.
At least this way they had a shot at making some real changes instead of doing their usual ‘also ran’ approach. It beggars belief that people across the country still think that you can have a coalition government with two opposition parties working together and no-one has to change a policy! Compromise is not duplicity – it’s a necessity when you don’t have majority in parliament.
Personally, I don't think the lib dems made all the right choices and dumping the tuition fees policy may well have cost many of them their seats in parliament at the next election (they were never going to get it through, but it would have been better to get agreement to abstain), but I would much rather have coalition government with the lib dems restraining much of the general tory right wing lunacy, than a full on tory government or the continuation of the new labour disaster.
Chris – hopelessness and despair there may be, but last time I checked everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. Hard times are a mandate for protest, they aren’t a mandate to go looting and destroying the livelihood of the local community.
As for the whole foreign nation thing; please try and have a sense of proportion. This isn’t Iran. The government aren’t perfect, but they ARE accountable – you get to vote for someone else every 5 years without fear of reprisal if you don't like what you've got. That’s a freedom that far too few people in this country appreciate and too many take for granted.
Yes – the govt is throwing stupid sentences at people and is going over the top in response to the perception that they waited too long to try and get it in hand. But the reality is, many of these people will be freed or have their sentences reduced substantially on appeal – a complete waste of money perhaps, but we’re hardly talking Iranian or Zimbabwean style abuse of human rights.
Our government rules through perception. If you want them to act sensibly and proportionately regarding benefits to rioters, you need to educate the 100,000 who signed the petition and the silent millions who nod in agreement. Govt’s do what they can to survive, they believe that they can do good in the background so long as they are seen to respond to the headlines. It’s hardly surprising, but the alternative is a dictatorship.
And if you want to stop people from looting; teach them the value of community and respect for others regardless of background.
My own belief is that the riots were largely a response to the legitimisation of minor crime. For years we’ve been telling everyone that all politicians are liars, all big companies are fat cats who rob from the people. Kids regularly download music illegally and justify it to themselves by accusing record companies of being ‘fat cats’ who deserve it. The way that kind of thinking comes home to roost is through the belief that it’s fine to steal from Currys or Debenhams or whoever – they’re fat cats. And they local newsagents – they have shops, so they must be fat cats too! And the Govt won’t punish you, because they’re all liars and criminals as well – just look at the expenses scandal. Forget the fact that the last election saw the greatest ever influx of new MPs into parliament who had nothing to do with it. Yes – it’s probably a simplistic approach, but there’s far too much ‘us and them’ attitude in our society; something that is perpetuated all too bl**dy often on these boards.
A little proportion and balanced judgement on all sides would do us good.