Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/476/2114
South London shootings
The bitter effect of poverty and alienation
THE SHOOTINGS of three school age children in south London have caused great concern. Parents and others in the community are appalled but not over-surprised.
Rob MacDonald, Lambeth, south London
Tony Blair says it's not a metaphor for today's youth and blames it on a small criminal element. The truth is that although these shootings are rare, they are the tip of an iceberg that sits deep in our communities.
The blame lies fundamentally with the situation many youth face: bad housing conditions, a choice of low pay or unemployment, lack of facilities and a general disregard of their needs. Drugs are often taken in an attempt to escape from reality and for some are a way to make quick money and can be a route to crime in general.
Many don't see society offering much in the way of respect or quality of life. This type of outlook can go along with the idea that the more aggressive you are the more likely you will get what you want. Isn't this the message of capitalism? Look after yourself, push to the top and be a winner, whatever the cost!
Blair has announced more police to root out the gangs and is adding tough jail penalties for 17-year-olds. 100 extra police have been deployed with increased use of 'stop and search'. More police on the street could antagonise the situation if they harass youth simply for wearing hoodies or hanging out on street corners.
South London has a serious schools crisis, with hundreds being left without places. Schools also rid themselves of 'problem kids' through exclusions, and in reaction to limited budgets and 'sink' schools, there's a culture of bunking off school among youth who see no point in going, or who fear violence there. This leaves 14-16 year old youth on the street.
Cuts and privatisations of services are at a haemorrhaging level. Lambeth council leader Steven Reed said that youth services have been underinvested for over 20 years. He neglected to mention that his party - New Labour - is largely to blame for that.
Rather than investing, Lambeth has suffered cut after cut, recently including £750,000 from adult services, £2.3 million from Lambeth College and millions from mental health. Their 'investment' is in fancy wine bars and gated housing, while housing stock is sold off or left to rot.
We need an alternative to blaming a few bad apples and of the only answer being more police and lies about investment. We need all the cuts and privatisation to stop and be replaced by serious investment in all poverty-hit areas.
The horrific shootings are one of the end results of the social conditions of poverty and alienation, now endemic in the capitalist system. We need to organise against this system and fight for a society that values all our youth and puts people before profit making.
In The Socialist 1 March 2007:
Socialist Party news and analysis
War and terrorism
Socialist Party congress
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis