2007 - 2022

Rorschach England

This has been an unprecedented explosion of anger. Not the anger of the ‘baying mob’ but of Middle England and all its fellow travelers. This has been England’s Rorschach moment, where the collective bile against the underclass that 30 years of neoliberal policy has created comes to the surface. ‘What we’re now seeing across the cities of England is the reflection of a society run on greed’. As we move from the Big Society to a Sick Society here are some other responses…

Seamus Milne writes of the riots in Toxteth and Brixton : “30 years ago the people of Brixton and Toxteth were denounced as criminals and thugs, but within weeks Michael Heseltine was writing a private memo to the cabinet, beginning with “it took a riot”, and setting out the urgent necessity to take action over urban deprivation.

This time, the multi-ethnic unrest has spread far further and faster. It’s been less politicised and there’s been far more looting, to the point where in many areas grabbing “free stuff” has been the main action. But there’s no mystery as to where the upheaval came from. It was triggered by the police killing a young black man in a country where black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than their white counterparts. The riot that exploded in Tottenham in response at the weekend took place in an area with the highest unemployment in London, whose youth clubs have been closed to meet a 75% cut in its youth services budget.

It then erupted across what is now by some measures the most unequal city in the developed world, where the wealth of the richest 10% has risen to 273 times that of the poorest, drawing in young people who have had their educational maintenance allowance axed just as official youth unemployment has reached a record high and university places are being cut back under the weight of a tripling of tuition fees.” Read the full piece here.

On Socialism or Barbarism...”We don’t think “these people” are “apes,” rats,” “dogs”.  But we believe that you truly see them that way, and that what happens now is not the reason for your belief: it is merely a confirmation of how you’ve always thought of those who are definitely more poor and often more brown than you.  As for the claim that your error lay in that “we should have helped the IPCC come closer to the Mark Duggan’s family more quickly,” it seems that you have already helped the police come plenty close to his family, in the worst way possible.  One can’t really say that it was the delay of the IPCC’s approach to the family that is the problem here, can we?  Doesn’t it have more  to do with the fact that he did not shoot at the police who murdered him?”

Darcus Howe’s interview on the BBC exposes the gulf in reality between state media and the people who live here…

Finally this view from Indymedia London: “Looters don’t give many press conferences. This made all of the conversations on today’s BBC morning show a little bit one-sided…The guy who showed up today to fix the smashed windows on Brixton Road may live just down the street from the shattered glass lying on the pavement; it’s unlikely that he’s a currency speculator or a hedge fund manager on the side. Any money he makes from fixing the windows will be mostly spent back in the local community.

The merits of endlessly sucking money out of the pockets of working people into the reserve accounts of the supercharged risk-takers at Canary wharf are quite a bit less clear to me, at present. The crisis is entering year five. Throwing hundreds of billions into the endless rounds of bank bailouts, corporate tax breaks, and other props for a global economy which increasingly resembles that of the USSR circa 1987 is not clearly a winning strategy.

The eruption of economic chaos in the Eurozone, and the police bullets which ripped into Mark Duggan, ending his life, are now two events which are bound together in a massive sequence of riots in London, the European continent’s largest financial centre.”

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  1. Michael Gardiner says:

    Dead right on rottenness reaping what it sows.

    By the way it took a struggle to get the BBC to stop calling them ‘UK Riots’ and to grasp the fact that these were indeed all in England (The Guardian, state-nationalist ideologues to the core, are still doing so). Is this important because Scots should feel a welling of ethnic pride at avoiding the riots – no, it’s important because England is the only nation in the UK with no body, not even a patchy and imperfect one, standing between it and the out-and-out theft of the political class.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Yeah, I agree Michael, there’s a total void between Hug a Hoodie / Hose a Hoodie – the Bullingdon Club Cabinet and the rest with a long drop down between most of society and the very poorest and most marginalised. I feel no comfort in there not being riots in Scotland and am not at all sure there wouldn’t be in our cities with some minor change of circumstances.

  2. Siôn Jones says:

    The rioters are only doing to the High Street what they have watched the Bankers do, with impunity, to the economy.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Tory Junta will use the riots to bring in hurried, ill thought out, and draconian draconian, illiberal laws, which won’t affect you in Scotland, but will affect us in Wales despite it being an exclusively English problem.

  3. esta es la respuesta a regimenes totalitarios instalados en todo el mundo los jovenes empiezan a reclamar sus espacios que les son negados por autoridades intolerantes observen en todos los paises hay protestas recuerden los echos de 1968 cuando se dieron situaciones similares que trajeron grandes cambios todos los gobiernos reaccionan de diferente manera los Britanicos como siempre con un gran respeto a su poblñacion los reprimen pero no los asesinan en Mexico de 2006 a la fecha van mas de 60 mil muertos registrados mas los no registrados mas los desplazados desaparecidos y que buscan refugio entre otros la situacion se torna imposible y aun tenemos que aguantar otro ano mas de mal gobierno

  4. Tocasaid says:

    Hoodies loot with a brick. MPs loot with fraudulent expenses forms. Bankers loot with… impunity. Media moguls loot our privacy.

    True, its a society run on greed but still with a huge gap between rich and poor.

    1. Ray Bell says:

      “Media moguls loot our privacy.” – Note how these riots are being used as an excuse for widespread monitoring of Blackberries and other mobile phones by the state.

  5. Ray Bell says:

    I think it’s because the British political system is rotten (and I agree with Tocasaid’s comment. De’n diofar?! I got really p-d off watching some of the MPs pontificating on this.)

    Not just those who claim to be right wing, but those who claim to be left wing. The right wingers can shoulder the blame for the poverty and the wastelands of retail parks and bland townscapes. The left wingers can shoulder the blame for not dealing with failures in parenting, education and community break down… Both are stuck in the middle class, one lot are stereotypically Telegraph readers with officer backgrounds, and the others are Guardian readers who bang on about equal rights, but are complete snobs all the same. There are also ethnic tensions as well in some cases, with different groups attacking each other (mostly black vs south Asian seemingly)

    There are some very sad things about these riots. The total lack of respect/morality the rioters exhibited towards completely innocent members of the public and small businesses, and the inability of the political class to realise that a section of English society (and Scottish and Welsh, if we’re truthful) has become completely detached. Neither group seems able to address the root causes properly, nor are they able to come up with proper systems to deter petty criminality and anti-social behaviour. In these cases, sadly, it’s the working class neighbourhoods which suffer the most, and the people in them.

    1. Tocasaid says:

      Dè an diofar gu dearbh? The British political system of which we’ve been part for too long is undoubtedly to blame – its obsession with power, hierarchy, greed, conquest and class has left us with an underclass that no-one really knows what to do with – hang them, flog them, lock them up or hug them?

      We may not have looters but the gap between the rich and poor (poor not just in a monetary sense) is probably wider in some parts of Scotland than in England. Certainly the low longevity of some Glaswegian men and statistics of violence in and around Glasgow particularly would say so.

      Independence with inclusive and progressive government/ local autonomy (think crofters and community buyouts and more) would be a start in sorting this mess.out. Like auld Reid said, we’re humans, not rats.


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