In the August riots of 2011 I had to experience something nobody should have to - I watched my home city burn. Politicos of all stripe were quick to condemn, but slow to explain, why the poorest communities in south London woke up one day and decided to destroy themselves. 'Mindless' 'Opportunistic' and 'Purely criminal' were the choice slogans of the Westminster village. This language proved the great British establishment either can't or won't accept the relationship between poverty and violence.
Ever since we gave human behaviour any serious study we've known that violence isn't a mindless business, it is a well understood process. The World Health Organisation has conducted studies on every sub-category of violence - self harm, collective or mob violence, interpersonal, familial and sexual violence and found that poverty amplifies every single one. Poverty doesn't just kill people - it makes them extremely angry.
Poverty has never been the sole cause of unrest - the under-reported Belfast riots of last week proved that religion and inter-generational blood-feuds still have a large role to play in the propagation of violence. Despite their celestial exceptionalism the real IRA 'martyrs' overwhelmingly came from impoverished backgrounds.
So acute is the awareness of destitution in both the Loyalist and Republican camps in Belfast that council housing allocation has become a political issue instead of a social one. The London riots had 70% of rioters coming from the poorest areas of London. The knee-jerk politicisation of social housing meant Wandsworth council started serving eviction notices against rioters. The limited response there has been from local government to the riots has been to punish poverty with more poverty.
So Britain's answer to this manifestly ugly problem? To measure it differently. Long before this happened Labour had effectively abandoned poverty targets by, in a very Orwellian fashion, inventing a new word for it. 'Social exclusion' came to replace the dirty word of poverty and suddenly problematic social skills were to blame for the record rise of food banks in the last 12 months. As people go hungry George Osborne condemns Liberal Democrat moves to institute an emergency tax on wealth. Is it right that people should go hungry to keep London as the global centre of finance?
The London riots, like all the 20th century riots happened in and were instigated by the poorest communities in the United Kingdom. The future debate around growth must occur against the backdrop of the debate about poverty.
Despite all the wonders of the modern, globalised and technologically driven world, we desperately need to face the fact we've created communities capable of tearing themselves apart. We need to recognise the process of violence will always be exaggerated by the consequences of poverty.
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