Socialist Worker

New Labour offers no hope for young people over crime

Issue No. 2046

New Labour offers no hope for young people over gun and knife crime

In a terrible sequence of events, seven under-16s have been murdered in London since the end of January. Fourteen year old Paul Erhahon died outside his home in London over the Easter weekend after being stabbed.

The reaction to this latest killing was predictable. The Metropolitan Police spoke about the growing threat of gangs.

The day before Paul died the government introduced yet more criminal justice laws, and after his death used the local election campaign to pledge yet another a “crackdown on yobs and criminals” by “getting tough”.

The solution on offer from politicians and the media is one that has been proven to fail time and time again.

If longer sentences reduced crime rates, Britain would have the lowest crime rate in Europe. Instead we have the highest prison population and one of the highest crime rates.

After each high profile death the police work “alongside the community” and hold thoughtful meetings. What follows is a more visible presence on the street – meaning increased stop and search and more harassment.

From a very young age many working class children face deprivation and hostility from the authorities. They are rejected, ignored, criticised and seem powerless to affect the institutions of society.

Faced with the prospect of dead end jobs and being poor in a society that exalts capitalist success, a small minority of black and white young people turn to violence and crime.

The people they are most likely to hurt are themselves.

It is the young, those living in poverty and black and minority ethnic communities who suffer the most from gun and knife crime.

Any serious strategy has to address the causes of violence, which means eradicating inequality, insecurity and social deprivation. It means tackling the racism and alienation suffered by young working class people.

But that’s the one thing we can guarantee New Labour won’t try.

British power

Losing the argument

For most, the release of the 15 Royal Navy personnel by the Iranian government was an occasion for relief or indifference – but the right wing press responded by obsessing over whether Britain had suffered a “national humiliation” at the hands of Iran.

The spat over sailors selling their stories to the media underlined this unease. “The image of British servicemen rifling through their Iranian goody bags after their release is difficult to banish from the mind,” wrote the Telegraph on Monday.

Behind the warmongers’ frustration lies their bitterness at losing the political argument over the war.

The Telegraph put it starkly, “We have reacted to Iran’s provocation with a resigned shrug... Part of this indifference has to do, disgracefully, with anti-war sentiment.”

“There is a feeling that we have no business being in the Gulf, and that we therefore are in no position to complain when things go wrong,” it concluded. Well quite.

So to answer the warmongers’ question – yes, there has been a humiliation here. But it isn’t “Britain” that has been humiliated, but the British ruling class’s imperial delusions. And the force responsible for that humiliation is the anti-war movement.

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What We Think
Tue 10 Apr 2007, 18:35 BST
Issue No. 2046
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