The political response to the murder spike in London has been a violation of common sense, says the writer. Picture: 123RF/LITTLENY
The political response to the murder spike in London has been a violation of common sense, says the writer. Picture: 123RF/LITTLENY

Two months ago, London’s murder statistics sailed past those of New York. While nowhere near Nyanga’s on the Cape Flats, commentators caution that the British capital’s body count is approaching that of Detroit.

The majority of victims and perpetrators are young and black. Most of these murders involve gang warfare ("postcode") and occur within some of London’s most deprived areas.

Explanations do exist for the violence but few dare express them: broken or bad parenting, difficulties of migrants’ adjustment and the absence of fair order or opportunity. As a gratuitous explanation, the reluctance of the tech firms to monitor videos celebrating gang violence is also to blame.

Structural bias, not exclusive to black communities here, still determines that prospects for people like the former home secretary, Amber Rudd, are stronger than they are for everyone else. Despite her ineptitude, Rudd was a career-long beneficiary of shadowy establishment protection and promotion. That she lost investors more money than she made in her previous career as an investment banker and kept some curious company did not impede her ascent to the top.

London’s black communities should resign themselves to going this alone

Frustratingly, that useless people such as Rudd and so many others before her succeed, possibly at the expense of talented ones, remains a fixture seemingly impossible to dismantle.

Yet the political response to the murder spike in London has been a violation of common sense. Black Lives Matter UK has not uttered a word. Ditto Diane Abbott. The veteran Labour anti-apartheid activist condemns private schools, but sent her own son to one (as I understand, to avoid the consequences of gangsterism).

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed that those responsible included middle-class white people with hungry noses: "The demand for cocaine in Notting Hill is contributing."

David Lammy, another Labour MP, blames "Albanian gangs in East London". The mayor complains about federal budget cuts to policing.

But the argument that the liberal left (and London is a city of the liberal left) is incapable of solving problems such as these is nonsense. In fact, the greatest example of a city overcoming a violent crime epidemic belongs to the liberal left. That was Bogota, Colombia.

Antanas Mockus, the child of Lithuanian immigrants, was a mathematics prodigy who became mayor in 1995.

At the end of his tenure he had reduced murder by 68%, improved the city’s natural habitat and championed the role of women. Mockus employed unusual tactics, humiliating pickpockets and speedsters by hiring mime artists at crime hotspots to ridicule perpetrators.

Knowing that vanity was a weakness, he sought to confront gangsterism not with violence or exhausting and expensive social programmes, but with embarrassment. If it could happen there, why not here?

Unorthodox as it may be, a campaign aimed at cheapening gangsterism could work; derision in various forms could chip at the status fabric that makes gangsterism so appealing in the first place.

But that won’t happen.

The response is a consequence of this age of heightened offence and pandering, reducing multiple tragedies into a kind of farcical political examination that seeks to solve a problem while being too scared to name it.

The curse of political correctness is flourishing in a bloodbath, and it is being used as a crutch to advance the prominence of some people. London’s black communities should resign themselves to going this alone.

It is pointless talking about strategy, or researching proven initiatives, orthodox or unorthodox, if you’re too frightened to acknowledge that the problem even exists.

• Reader works for an energy investment and political advisory firm.

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