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Barabra Panvel reflects on the knife and gun crimes which have become endemic in our inner cities and wonders why those who are running our country are missing the obvious causes.

The latest spate of violence committed by the young against the young was described in a recent broadcast as ‘casual, murderous violence'. David Cameron said it was due to family breakdown and a Labour minister placed the blame on community breakdown.

These verdicts delivered from ‘on high' seem to condemn society in general. Apart from a few soundbites and strategy announcements the situation is not addressed and gets worse.

In fact those at the top of the financial, political, commercial, industrial trees have created and applauded an economic system which led to gradual changes in society after the Second World War - when incomes and living standards were far lower, but so too was violent crime.

As Bill Clinton in his successful pre-election campaign once famously said - ‘It's the economy, stupid'!

In two roads in a tiny village where I lived as a child there was a grocery, shoe, cycle and electrical repair shops, surgery, church, post office, railway station, school and printing press - all on a small scale.

A greengrocer's van travelled round offering a selection of fruit and vegetables, there was a reliable bus service to the nearest town and a canal with barges carrying heavy loads through the region. A little further away, within walking distance, was a farm which supplied the butter and bacon to the shop and larger workplaces: a lino works, a quarry, and two factories, making bricks and glue.

The value of the paid or unpaid work a person did was recognised - including the most uncoveted job, done by Mr Smith, who shovelled human excrement into a lorry for removal.

We now depend on imported food and goods. State generation and delivery of energy has been handed over, in many cases, to foreign corporations.

Those village shops and services have now gone. Green spaces have been crammed with houses and mains drainage is now universal, but people no longer know many of those around them. In a place where heads were once shaken over the notorious one or two who got drunk - but only at the weekend - one now hears tales of drug addiction, crime and imprisonment.

In towns solid terraced housing was demolished, leaving many marooned in high-rise flats, and then came Tebbit's injunction to 'get on your bike' and work at a distance, further breaking up family and neighbourhood circles - all in the interests of serving a system of production that has greatly enriched a few.

Because of these changes, our youngsters are growing up in a world which has no use or place for them unless their academic attainment reaches a certain level. Whereas earlier few of the poor and unemployed turned to crime, television now repeatedly imprints on young hearts and minds images of an expensive, status-offering ‘good life', which they cannot hope to get by legal means.

How many of us, growing up with such lack of hope for the future, would resist the temptation to escape into a drug-soothed world or to take what we cannot earn?

Time for change!

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