As we wallowed in the ‘commemoration’ of the start of the First World War (when does commemoration tip over into wallowing and celebration?), another anniversary slipped by largely unnoticed. August 2014 not only marked 100 years since the start of WW1, a conveniently long enough time to ensure that no one is still around to recall what a huge disaster it was, it also marked three years since the Croydon Riots. Take a stroll up London Road: the devastation is still apparent. The only green shoots in evidence are those growing out of abandoned and run-down buildings.
It is worth recalling that Boris Johnson, the then and regrettably still Mayor of London, was on holiday in the USA at the time. Our elites don’t like to stint on their holidays! After all, it cannot be easy to hold down public positions, well paid second jobs and consultancies at the same time as has become their custom and expectation. They also need lots of time to invest their grotesquely huge pension savings ready for the time when they will no longer be ‘serving’ us. In Johnson’s absence, the BBC turned to his predecessor, the principled and independently minded Ken Livingstone. Ken condemned the violence, but dared to point out that it was caused by depriving young people of “hope and opportunities”. For this he was roundly condemned in the capitalist press and media.
Ken, of course, was right. A report earlier this week from KPMG, an organisation that generally concerns itself with reducing in any dubious manner that remain just inside the law the taxes of corporations and wealthy individuals, not with the plight of workers, found that 22% of those in work receive less than the living wage of £7.75 an hour (£8.80 in London). in 2012 the number of teenagers staying on in school after the age of 16 fell for the first time in a decade and the proportion of 18 year olds not in education, employment or training’, so-called NEETS, rose by 8% in the same year. It would take a very optimistic youngster, not having been born into the 1% of the population that comprises our ruling elite, who did not to feel deprived of hope and opportunity by these findings.
Meanwhile, to end on a positive note, see you all at the Croydon Assembly on Saturday 15 November when we can discuss what is to be done about the mess we find ourselves in..