Who are the Real Looters: rioters or MPs?

September 15, 2011

The UK riots can show us a great ridiculous double standard in the UK. John Harris, on 18 August 2011, wrote an article in the Guardian, “Who are the Real Looters: rioters or MPs?”, and had a look at this matter. John Harris’s article can show us two important things: (1) A great problem in the UK (2) The difference between the Mullah regime and the UK regime. If some one writes some thing like “Who are the Real Looters: rioters or MPs?” in Iran, s/he not only would be arrested and tortured and then confess that s/he is a CIA agent, but after a while his/her dead body would be found in the prison. Anyway, lets take a look at excerpts of John Harris’s article:

“One thinks, for example, of the London apprentice riots of the 1590s, 1688’s Bawdy House riots, 1769’s Spitalfields riots, 1780’s Gordon riots, the Swing riots and Bristol riots that took place between 1830 and 1831 or any number of other disturbances, most of which resulted in a part of the riot-script now being followed to the letter: a great spate of draconian punishment, forever captured in the English archetype of the bloody assizes, a phrase first used in the wake of the Monmouth rebellion. So, we now watch once again as good sense is set aside. Those two herberts from Cheshire are given 4 years each for incapably trying to foment disturbances that didn’t actually happen(as the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire puts it: “Bad drivers who kill kids do less so do yobs who end a life with a punch then say they never meant to kill anyone.”). The Mancunian mother-of-two Ursula Nevin is facing 5 months inside for handling a pair of shorts, looted from a city-centre shop by a friend. 23-year-old Nicholas Robinson took a £3.50 case of water from the Brixton branch of Lidl: he was credited with previous good character and credible remorse, but is still going down for 9 months … In response, it is worth highlighting yet another English tradition: that of cant and double standards on the part of some of those fond of whipping up authoritarian storms. And as jails fill up and politicians continue to talk tough, it’s perhaps illuminating to go back through the dossier of MPs’ expenses claims . There are interesting moral questions here, which we’ll come on to but first, some examples from the weeks and months that followed the first news of the expenses scandal . You could certainly be forgiven for comparing the fate of the Facebook pair to the MPs jailed for fraudulently taking tens of thousands from the public purse whose average jail sentence came in at around 18 months [!!!] . But it’s arguably even more instructive to look at those who merely paid back hefty sums for claims they clearly thought had been indefensible, many of whom are now cheerleading for the sentencing craziness that has seized the courts. The then shadow education secretary, Michael Gove, lately heard bemoaning an “absence of discipline in the home and in the school”, agreed to pay back 7,000 GBP, spent on furniture and fittings for his house in north Kensington. They included a £331 Chinon armchair, a Manchu cabinet for 493 GBP and a pair of “elephant lamps” worth 134.50 GBP … David Cameron repaid a 680 GBP home repair bill. Oliver Letwin returned 2,000 GBP, the cost of repairing a leaking pipe under his home tennis court. Hazel Blears stood up in the Commons last week and said: “For me, the politics of law and order and of security and protecting our citizens have never been about the difference between right and left; they have always been about the difference between right and wrong.” She should know: in the summer of 2009, you may recall the iconic image of her holding up a cheque for 13,332 GBP in repaid capital gains tax, having apparently come to the conclusion that it wasn’t hers to spend … All this leads on to the kind of questions one hears in undergraduate ethics tutorials, or on Radio 4’s Moral Maze. Of course, rioting involves criminal damage and disorder. There again, as the Nevin case proves, plenty of people are currently being sent to jail for eyebrow-raising stretches for offences that involved neither. And so the question arises: if you effectively help yourself to fancy chairs, rugs, tennis court pipe repairs and whatever else, and your wrongdoing is sufficiently clear-cut that you volunteer to pay back the money, might you be in the same moral ballpark? If so, might that be proof of the fact that if the riots are part of some “slow-motion moral collapse” (cheers, Cameron), the people in charge had better take their share of the blame? And if that’s the case, might our politicians find a slightly more nuanced way of holding forth? In fact, come to think of it, all this might suggest a more sensible way of dealing with the riots’ aftermath than cramming our prisons to bursting point … why has no one suggested offering an amnesty for those convicted of stealing goods up to an estimated value of, say, 500 GBP? This could be called the Hazel Blears option: an offender in full public view hands into the court a cheque for the amount of the goods stolen

Some British comments about this important issue, are interesting: “The rank hypocrisy of the bastards is contemptible, but entirely predictable … Who are the biggest looters ? Bankers! … But our MPs didn’t think they were doing anything wrong, because it’s only wrong if you are poor. Which is why they’ve handed down punitive sentences to the rioters as an object lesson for our betters … The Best Looters are the Bankers, The MPs Second & The Kids Last … We have yet to see the biggest looters, banks, punished for sending the world’s economy into a downward spiral. Tax evasion and avoidance have not been adequately dealt with either … David Laws lied about his expenses so he could cheat tax payers out of 40,000 GBP. He didn’t go to prison, he wasn’t even prosecuted. He was suspended from parliament for 7 days Cameron and Clegg didn’t have any worries about ‘morality’ . Cameron didn’t think is was ‘sick’ when he went on record urging David Laws “to stay in public life” … John is right. He is not saying “don’t punish the looters”. He is saying punishment should be fair across the board … Hysterically funny replies from the right. They just can’t cope with the concept that someone can think BOTH are criminals, MPs and looters. It’s either one or the other for them, and by the God and the Queen’s curlers, they know which one it is … They hang the man, and flog the woman, That steals the goose from off the common; But let the greater villain loose, That steals the common from the goose … I personally think the expenses scandal was worse. A lot of these people being prosecuted were just being opportunist. The MP’s on the other hand, did what they did coolly and clearheadedly over months and years. I’d use the 6 months for 3.50 GBP as a base line. As such the PM owes us 390 odd months in prison … If he’s black and young, shoot him with a gun. If he’s Oxbridge and dumb, cal him your chum ! … The main causes of recession set out by JK Galbraith in his book ‘ The Great Crash 1929’ were bad income distribution and a business sector engaged in ‘ corporate larceny’! … The UK has one of the highest violent crime rates in the EU and it is estimated nearly half of all black youths are out of work. The majority of young people feel they have no platform and see their parents losing their jobs and that overspills into the rest of the family. There is nothing to lose if you have no job and the average parents cannot even stop their children going out … As an Arabic linguist I know a proverb that goes like this’ hameeha harameeha’ which translates literally: ‘ its protector is its thief.’ Our politicians and our bankers are indeed the thieves in our midst … MPs have repeatedly broken the law and cheated money from the taxpayer … Any body who steals and loots illegally and with intent to deceive is a criminal whether he sits in a high chair or walks on a street with a hood on. They are morally and ethically bankrupt”