Friday, August 19, 2011
Glasgow's Gangs and the Riot that Didn't Happen
When the riots broke out in England, I thought it would only be a matter of time before they spread to Glasgow. Because that city has a lot of poverty and inequality, and some of the toughest street gangs in the world.
Gangs that regularly charge at each other armed with baseball bats, knives, machetes, and swords. And have more facial scars than you dare count.
So when the city wasn't sacked by the so called ned hordes, I was puzzled. And glad to see that I wasn't the only one wondering, why didn't Glasgow burn?
Now I think Taylor is wrong to dismiss the progressive policies of Scotland's SNP government which has refused to dismantle the social safety net, unlike the Cons in England. And she probably doesn't give the Strathclyde police force enough credit for the tough but progressive way it has worked to reduce gang violence.
But this is true:
Officers with experience in the field say the nature of gang violence in Glasgow is completely different to that of London and Manchester. For a start, it's primarily all about the fighting. Not drugs, gun-running or bling, just what cops north of the border call "recreational" violence. The pure enjoyment of the fight, Clockwork Orange-style. Guns aren't prevalent in Glasgow but knives certainly are, which in itself changes the nature of the violence.
I know because when I was a boy one of them stabbed me after a football game. And for years I loved fighting too much myself.
Also, sadly, this could be true as well:
The drugs of choice among the young and deprived in Glasgow are also relevant. No matter how strong your constitution, heroin and excessive alcohol are not conducive to having the motivation to get off the sofa and go looting a couple of miles away.
Because it is a measure of the despair that afflicts so many young people..
And yes, this is entirely possible:
One cop I spoke to had a different, more prosaic take on why the riots didn't reach Scotland. "The rain was bloody torrential, biblical, for days," he said. "What wee ned's going to leave the comfort of his X-Box and his bottle of Buckfast for that?"
Because sometimes you get lucky eh?
But for how long?
Oh well. The good news is Glasgow didn't burn. Nobody was hurt. The neds taught me some useful tricks to use against the bullies later in Canada.
And when Sébastien accuses me occasionally of being too wild or hot headed, I can still make him laugh by saying how can you say that?
When I've come so far...