‘Social chaos’ foreseen in October 2010

First published on Brand Republic - 9 Aug 2011

In my post dated 29 October 2010, ‘The Conservatives may be doing the right thing but in the wrong way’, I predicted that Government policies would lead to ‘social chaos’ in this country (third last paragraph).

At the time, I thought long and hard about writing this because it was a brave call. There hadn’t been rioting on the streets of London for several years.

Since then, this has been a recurring theme in my blog posts, particularly those published on www.Brand Republic.com on 12 November, 7 January, 11 February and 28 March.

As I have said so often, the underlying thesis behind this blog is that the skills and creativity employed in the marketing and marketing services businesses are more directed at gorillas selling chocolate and meerkats selling insurance than they are to the good of society as a whole.

So, as someone who works in this business which requires the understanding of human behaviour, and who takes an active interest in society outside the media village, these riots have been all too easy to foresee.

I take no pleasure in making this point.

In fact, I am very angry.

From my very first post, my interest has been ‘convergence rather than divergence’. Yet, today, our society is even more divided than it was less than two years ago. There are rioters on our streets – and there are those, of course, who are appalled and outraged by their behaviour.

So why are people behaving in this way?

It is an easy answer.

The Coalition are besotted by ‘the deficit’. It has been the excuse for every action they have taken. As the riots are happening, the BBC report ‘carnage’ in the worldwide stock markets.

Of course, the Coalition have had a job to do here. Savings have had to be made.

But they have failed to look back over their shoulders and consider the people the cuts affect.

And, because they don’t understand people, and have no feeling for how human beings behave, they have failed to realise that if you cut jobs and, at the same time, you cut benefits then you create the tinderbox for the fires we have seen on our streets this week.

Which way do you expect people to turn?

Well, the answer is that you have to start from a different place. You do not address the deficit with only the economy in mind. You have to care about people at the same time. As I have said before, Iain Duncan Smith had the opportunity to fulfil this role. But quite the opposite has happened. Under the cover of ‘welfare reform’, he has knifed into the poorest and weakest people in society.

It is their children who have been rioting. They see the hopelessness of their future, they know they are unlikely to achieve the glamourous, celebrity lifestyles they see every day in the media (you know, the lifestyles our politicians crave as well) and, frankly, they see these riots as an opportunity to have a good laugh and, if they are lucky, nick a few baubles too.

And do you know why they think it is a bit of a laugh? It is because they don’t care.

And do you know why they don’t care? It is because no one cares about them.  

That is the failing of this Coalition Government.

And it is why I am so angry.

Because I saw it coming and there was nothing I could do.

And now the more grown-up chancers are going to pile in so David Cameron has flown back from holiday to sort these events out. I am not a party political animal – even though I seem to be coming over this way – but, as I have posted before, I am afraid David Cameron doesn’t understand normal people at all.

Things can only get worse.

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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