Burning Niddrie

The scenes from Niddrie last night may have shocked many, but the pearl-clutching or condemnation won’t make them go away. Such banal dialogue about ‘banning fireworks’ – or sending in the riot police won’t ‘disappear’ the alienation that many young people in communities experience. Despite the media coverage this isn’t a phenomenon unique to Niddrie, this is a scene played-out in other cities across the UK.

This isn’t to say that firemen don’t deserve to be safe, or that these scenes were particularly political, but just that they are no surprise.

Given the state of Britain it’s only surprising there aren’t more regular outbursts of social disorder.

Comments (11)

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  1. Irene says:


  2. SteveH says:

    The UK is run by Graduate Elites. Elites who measure their status and capital by their education and the ranking of their university.

    Since Thatcher and Blair, the working classes and non-graduates have been steadily alienated, disenfranchised and undermined.

    Left, right, Tory, Labour, SNP – it doesn’t matter. They’re all part of the same arrogant privileged self-serving grasping gang. They have all lost the respect of the majority of the population.

    1. Satan says:

      I think that the term ‘working class’ was invented by the bourgouise to make the lower class feel better about themselves.

    2. florian albert says:

      The Harvard philosopher, Michael Sandel calls this ‘credentialism, the last acceptable prejudice.’

      Now the downside of it for the elites themselves – as opposed to the rest of society – is becoming clear. So many people are getting ‘very good’ degrees that they are devalued. It is necessary to add a Masters to your Ist Class Honours. In the 30 years from 1990, the number of people getting a 1st Class Honours Degree in the UK, increased nineteen fold.
      Further, Britain is in the grip of a productivity crisis and has been since 2008. All these graduates are failing to make Britain more productive and prosperous.
      And that is before looking at the way in which many universities are becoming citadels of intolerance.

      1. Satan says:

        Universitys are worlds unto themselves setting their own individual standards. A BSc from the University of the West of Scotland is a very lesser qualification than a BSc from an Oxford college. Government education statistics should be viewed in the light of reality. You don’t have to put the name of your your secondary school on a CV, but employers want to know what universitry you attended. However, any glorified college will get you out of the gypsy campsite in west Craigmillar, stop you tearing up Niddrie’s Braid park with a mini-moto, and having matress bonfires.

  3. Niemand says:

    I think a discussion with said firefighters and especially the traumatised Niddrie residents would offer a more useful ‘analysis’ than this. Some actual investigation in other words. There is only so much you can blame on ‘Britain’ before you start to look a bit ridiculous.

    1. Not really. As the Herald’s Neil Mackay has said: “so many riots I’ve lost count. One lesson I’ve learned: riots don’t happen in a vacuum. There’s always a reason. A riot reveals the dysfunctions of the society in which it takes place. So the violent disorder in Edinburgh needs taken seriously.”

      Pretending these things come from nowhere is what looks a bit ridiculous.

      1. Niemand says:

        Who is saying that it came from nowhere though? No-one that I can see.

        1. People saying it is ‘just hooliganism’ are

  4. florian albert says:

    There seem to be two – very different – explanations of why the riot took place in Niddrie on November 5th. One sees it as a classic case of hooliganism. The other, which Mike Small favours, sees it as the result of young people alienated from the society in which they live.
    I tend to favour the first. Many young Scottish males have a propensity to violence as can be seen in any Scottish town or city on a Friday or
    Saturday night. Alcohol clearly in a big contributing factor. Such behaviour has been endemic in Scottish society for generations. It does not need much to trigger it.

    Nevertheless, the problem of alienation is worth examining. (In the form we saw in Niddrie, it is largely unknown in prosperous areas.)
    At first sight, young males growing up in Niddrie are privileged. They have a free health service. They have free education, primary, secondary and tertiary. Recently, Nicola Sturgeon has added free bus travel. Housing is better than it has ever been in Scotland. There are jobs aplenty, especially in Edinburgh’s capital.
    Below this surface, things are notably grimmer. Education rarely provides a ladder to success for youngsters in Niddrie. The local secondary has, for decades, exemplified the attainment gap that – only recently – politicians started to notice.
    This means that employment prospects are limited. Further, school levers have to compete with people from Poland, Spain and far further.
    Often, the latter are better qualified and better motivated; they have uprooted themselves just to get to Scotland.
    Politically, the people of Niddrie are orphaned. The Left, which traditionally championed such people and the places they live, has lost interest in them. Thus, I agree in part with Mike Small’s analysis of alienation.
    However, rioting strikes me as entirely counter-productive. Following riots in Brixton in London in the 1980s, the late Peter Jenkins, political editor of The Guardian said that the options for young black men in Brixton were two fold; riot or integrate. If they chose the first, the state would crush them. It appears to me that young men in Niddrie have the same (lack of) options.

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