When the political doesn’t count as political.

Remember this advert from the Electoral Commission?

"Politics affects almost everything, so…if you don't do politics, there's not much you do do."

The looting and rioting of last week – we are told – was caused by "criminality, pure and simple" and does not have political causes.

It can't be political because:

– the rioters did not make demands
– the rioters did not belong to political organisations
– the rioters weren't rioting, they were looting. Or "shopping with violence"
– the rioters weren't all unemployed
– the rioters weren't all poor
– the rioters weren't all from the same race or religion
– the "rioting morons couldnt even name the PM, let alone have political reasons for their actions" (Tweeter I'll leave anonymous)

It is important for the government to claim that the rioting and looting are not 'political' actions, because that enables them to dismiss the idea that there may be a range of underlying community-scale social causes and therefore social solutions. Instead, by claiming the only cause is "criminality" (as though that were actually pure and simple, and not itself a political notion) the government can focus on personal responsibility and manage that through the criminal justice system (also political of course) and moralising about family composition (er…political too).

Something can be "political" in both causes and consequences, even if those involved in it don't have or aren't able to articulate conscious political motives.

Of course the rioting / looting was political. As are the responses to it.

If you don't do politics, there's not much you do do.

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