Three weeks ago, I said the Olympics couldn’t come soon enough as the economy was in the very slough of despond. In light of this week’s riots, even the Olympics seems a forlorn source of salvation.
Around the world, images of yobs in mobs around the capital looting and pillaging were being played. To owners and shareholders in foreign-owned retailers such as Aldi and Lidl, the attacks on their shops sends a pretty dismal signal for the future, while friends in the US have expressed relief that England’s self-immolation replaced their own debt and credit rating crisis on their screens.
But my biggest fear is the message these riots send to potential visitors to the Olympics next year, who are far more valuable. Who would blame them for cancelling?
In an eerie echo of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black - with business already very slow due to holidays, the miserable summer, declining confidence, the threatened collapse of the euro, superpowers such as the US and now France under renewed financial strain, blah blah depressing blah - a number of shops around the capital, and the country as a whole, were shuttered or, in worst-case scenarios looted and burnt down, while people have died protecting their communities.
If this week’s indiscriminate attacks on shops and businesses and homes and people prove anything, it is that the destruction of Tesco’s Stokes Croft site earlier this year was not an outpouring of “moral outrage”, as the bleeding liberal intelligentsia had implied. It was, like these more sustained riots in the past week, a mindless and criminal act against humanity itself.
As I’ve said in the past, I don’t blame people for feeling anger I’m angry myself, with bankers and their bonuses, MPs who fiddle their expenses, journalists who hack into phones, and the police for their seedy collusion.
But these rioters stand for nothing. And we must all stand against them.