Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dormant social unrest looming for UK

Source: Press TV

The dizzying unemployment figures in Britain coupled with a recent analysis of the cause of summer unrest that put the country on a state of emergency show the government should brace for more such actions in the coming months.

Youth unemployment is at an all-time high in Britain while the rates of underemployment - that is working in a job capacity considered not good enough by the worker - have hit levels unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

The record unemployment levels mean a whole generation of young adults have their hopes for their futures dashed, raising fears that the resulting outrage could lead to a repetition of the unrest that put Britain in a state of emergency back in August 2011.

The social clashes have been recently found to be rooted in unemployment and poverty as well as in police brutality against certain groups of citizens.

A Citizens’ UK study from 700 local people in the northern London Tottenham area where the unrest began found that the police fatal shooting of a 29-year-old black man on August 6 was the trigger for the crisis.

However, the survey said the ethnic minorities’ mistrust of officers and public despair at the grave economic situation were responsible for the wave of protests that spread like wildfire to the whole country.

The minority groups told the inquiry that the police use of the controversial stop and search powers has been “excessive and disrespectful.”

The report also said some locals identified the disorder as a rare opportunity to take concerted action at a time when one fifth of all youths were jobless.

“It finally felt like all the people (were) coming together, united to do something, even if that something was ultimately destructive,” a 17-year-old participant in the survey said.

Britain has been an epicenter of social unrest for more than a year, which has featured massive protests every few months, beginning with the hundreds-of-thousands-strong tuition fee rallies in London in 2010.

The latest of such huge public actions were the November 2011 mass strikes by some two million public sector workers over the pension reforms and the closely-linked poverty factor, which triggered the August unrest.

With the factors fueling the public anger still in place, analysts believe the government should act to address the shortcomings or risk further trouble that could shake the foundations of the British society.

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