Thursday, August 11, 2011

Riots always happen under the Tories.

  'Nothing excuses violence/it's all about the cuts'.  'Parents are to blame/society is to blame' The riots are the legacy of the Labour years/ riots always happen under the Tories'.  It's time we moved on from this sterile party political exchange.   Of course violence is inexcusable and has to be tackled by a robust policing, but that doesn't mean you can detach the riots form social circumstances in which they arise - in particular the lack of jobs and opportunities available to young males in inner cities.  We all share responsibility for social unrest by the dispossessed, but it would be ludicrous to ignore the role played by poor parentlng in breeding a generation of nihilistic young people who destroy their own neighbourhod.  Urban unrest has no party affiliation, and rather than scoring points, the politicians need to demonstrate that they are capable of rising above their own narrow interests


  Parliament meets today  in emergency session to debate the new British disease:  urban self-destruction  (and yes, I know that it is so far only English cities have been set alight, but I'm coming to that). MPs of all parties will be vying to show they are tough on yobbery if not the causes of yobbery. It will be a novel experience for the police, who are more used to finding themselves under attack from politicians for being too tough – as in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 and Ian Tomlinson in 2009 – or for being “institutionally racist”. Forget all that: now we want the gloves off.

I even heard Gavin Esler on BBC's Newsnight grilling a senior police spokesman over why they hadn't used plastic bullets at the weekend. If the police had used plastic bullets Newsnight would surely have been the first to condemn the injuries inflicted on rioters and the inevitable innocent bystanders. As with the calls for water cannon, which we will hear today from numerous MPs, the problem is that the police are not dealing with organised street fighters who stand their ground. They are dealing with flash mobs of looters and arsonists which are liable to pop up anywhere. That kind of riot control may be appropriate in Belfast, but not in Birmingham or Bristol.

And did I really hear Diane Abbott, the radical black MP for Hackney, saying there should be a curfew in her constituency? A curfew! Had that been suggested that after the urban riots in the 1980s, it would've been condemned by politicians like Abbott as an assault on black youth by a racist police force using the methods of a totalitarian state. “Red” Ken Livingtsone, the former London mayor, was out-bidding the Tories last week in calling for more police. So, this is a very changed political climate and a very changed Westminster.

David Cameron will insist that he never really wanted to 'hug a hoodie'. The prime minister isn't used to using the language of “loranordah', which helped give the old Tories the “nasty party” image, but he'll learn fast. We voters are fickle. We want criminals to be understood and young people given a chance – but not if it involves burning down shops in Clapham. Cameron has already indicated that he wants to see more prison places, which will bring him into direct confrontation with his Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, who wants to empty the prisons of young people sent there for relatively minor offences like, er, hooliganism, shop-lifting and breaking windows.

Cameron is also going to have to placate the police, who have been complaining bitterly about cuts, not least in their generous pensions. There have been ugly suggestions that the police allowed the cities to burn out of pique at the government's assault on their privileges. I''m sure that's nonsense. Nevertheless, Margaret Thatcher made a point of upping police pay before the miners' strike in 1984 just to make sure...

The ghost of Tony Blair will be stalking Westminster today, but MPs aren't looking for ASBOs any more but broken heads. That's really what we're talking about. If those police officers who were seen running away from the rioters in Woolwich had stood their ground, there would have been blood. They were clearly outnumbered and would've had to use maximum force to disable the rioters – and that means breaking bones and skulls with their batons. Their reluctance to use force thus far is only partly down to `'political correctness' and is largely because of the likely repercussions of any fatalities. Now that the revolution really is televised, by CCTV and cameraphones, police know that they are under surveillance as much as the rioters and they wear identification. .

Of course, Labour will try to have it both ways by saying the rioting was “mindless and inexcusable” and then blaming it on government cuts, as Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman did in that eye-popping encounter with the Tory Education Secretary, Michael Gove on Tuesday's Newsnight. Gove erupted in righteous indignation at her suggestion that people were robbing J+D Sports because the education maintenance allowance is being scrapped. But Labour know that they can score easy political points here. Lack of jobs and opportunities is a obviously a factor.  The rioters are the dispossessed of a society that is obsessed with material gain, bling, cribs whatever.. The hoodies see the government cuts while bankers enrich themselves, and even with their limited education can put together a spurious moral justification for theft, organised by Blackberry phones.

But not, it seems, in Scotland. Perhaps they haven't learned to use them here.   The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, said that Scottish yobs have not been trashing their towns because “we have a different society”. I hope those words don't come back to haunt him. I'd like to think that the abolition of tuition fees was keeping Scottish youth on the striaght and narrow, but I suspect the same kind of nihilistic alienation is being incubated in Scottish housing estates, even though we have a more social democratic politics here.  The Scottish yob doesn't tend to follow a lead given by the English, which I fear may explain the lack of copy cat violence in Glasgow or Aberdeen.

Of course, the unmentionable factor is that the Afro-caribbean community is much smaller in Scotland, and they tend to be the ones who have the most difficult relationship with the police. Remember that the trigger for the rampage was the shooting of the suspected black Tottenham gangster, Mark Duggan,last week. It was a protest against police delay in admitting that Duggan hadn't shot first that turned into the riot. It might take another factor, perhaps sectarianism, to spark similar violence among the white Scottish underclass.

So far as we know the Asian community is too busy running businesses to have the time to trash them. Now that three Asians have died in Birmingham trying to defend their stores, the police will be under even greater pressure to use whatever is necessary to protect lives and property. This is a watershed. Listen to parliament today, and you will hear a harsher, punitive almost Victorian approach to law and order. As John Major put it: they'll condemn a little more and understand a little less.    

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it is worth remembering that the rioting of the last week or so took place in English cities

tris said...

Typical Cameron. Push even more into jail, as if they didn't already have the biggest per capita jail population anywhere except America.. and the worst drug problems and the most recidivism...

So, does it work? No. But it keeps the Daily Mail happy.

David Cameron. Prime Ministering by Daily Mail.

I said from day one, that the only part of the job he would be able to do would be state dinners and the like. They teach them which fork and knife to use at Eton. As for the rest. God, he's useless.

And as for the Gove interview. I am Harman's biggest critic (can't stand the canting old bag), but she didn't say anything about the people who were robbing J&B and if he had an ounce of common sense, which, of course, he has proved that he doesn't, he would have realised it. She was saying that people are unhappy with a variety of things, including educational allowances (but not, I imagine, all Tory instituted).

The bottom line for the House Elf Gove and his Tim Nice-But-Dim boss is that riots don't happen in happy countries.

Poor people are being made to pay for the greed of bankers; the police are corrupt and incompetent; the government is incompetent; MPs have been corrupt; the lords are corrupt, the press is corrupt. The whole establishment stinks like filthy rotten fish.

And almost no one has paid...and even when they have they have been so treated with kid gloves.

It make ME sick, and I'm not underprivileged or excluded.

Anonymous said...

'Do as I say not as I do, did, or have done'.


" An excessive sense of entitlement" was what the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, ascribed to those looters, rampaging through his city and others across England.

But he could have been referring to himself - He like PM Cameron and his now chancellor George Osborne were members of the notorious Bullingdon club, the Oxford university "dining" clique that smashed their way through restuarant crockery, car windscreens and antique violins all over this city of knowledge and indulged in ritualistic plate smashing at unsuspecting country pubs.

Not unlike a certain section of today's youth they equally demonstrated a marked disregard for other peoples property.

When asked to comment on the actions of the looters Johnson said "This behaviour was criminal behaviour."

extract from article by Patrick Kingsley in the Guardian Thurs 11th August.

Anonymous said...

For 'Do as I say not as I do ... ' read 'It is called "Leadership by example".'

Lord Snooty said...

I was just about to reach for my keyboard when, reading the comments, I found that the eponymous anon made the basic comment I was going to do.

However, to reinforce it here is my tuppence worth.



"Urban unrest has no party affiliation, and rather than scoring points, the politicians need to demonstrate that they are capable of rising above their own narrow interests. "

This for me sums it all up.


The politicians cannot rise above their own narrow interest because they are fundamentally part of the problem.

What is the difference of the Westminster MPs looting the public purse, in the form of their fraudulent expenses claims. I don't mean the sacrificial sods thrown to the wolves, I mean the whole damn lot of them who "bent" every rule known to the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise, just because they were greedy bastards and could do so.


If you or I tried their fiddles we would be
a) Frogmarched out the building and job in double quick time.

b) Turned over by the VAT man, no joke, prosecuted and fined heavily or even imprisoned. Remember you are defrauding Her Majesty and these guys carry their own warrant card with permission to enter where they wish, when they wish without a search warrant. Try swagging Capital Gains tax by changing your official tax residence as often as some of them have done and not ending up in the High Court.

Still they did it, repaid a small proportion of their swag, say sorry and carry on regardless, after "reforming" their own system.

The Bullingdon Club's bestial behaviour in and around Oxford tells us all a tale as does one David Cameron's predilection for Arson.

As I said, they are the problem as much as the feral kids looting trainers flat screens and B & O HiFis(sounds familiar?).

The fish rots from the head.

Let's be done with Westminster

Lord Snooty said...

Sorry, I stand corrected, Nick Clegg's predilectionly, allegedly.

CWH said...

""Of course, Labour will try to have it both ways by saying the rioting was “mindless and inexcusable” and then blaming it on government cuts, as Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman did in that eye-popping encounter with the Tory Education Secretary, Michael Gove on Tuesday's Newsnight. Gove erupted in righteous indignation at her suggestion that people were robbing J+D Sports because the education maintenance allowance is being scrapped. But Labour know that they can score easy political points here.""

I saw this interview and my first thought was that Harman, and by extension Labour, were indulging in the same point-scoring, political opportunism that was such a hallmark of their behaviour in Scotland for the last 4 years and which they look set to continue during the next 5 years.

Does Labour have anything to offer other than rampant negativity?

Jo G said...

"And did I really hear Diane Abbott, the radical black MP for Hackney, saying there should be a curfew in her constituency?"

Yes you did. I heard her too and applauded her but you missed out her main point. She said those who cared about poverty did not trash their own communities. She was right there and saw what the mobs had done to their own in her constituency.

Jo G said...

"It was a protest against police delay in admitting that Duggan hadn't shot first that turned into the riot. It might take another factor, perhaps sectarianism, to spark similar violence among the white Scottish underclass."

Iain you really are losing it bigtime. This is a disgusting statement to include in any piece you write. It sounds like its a suggestion from you as to how we can kick it all off up here. How bloody irresponsible can you get?

CWH said...

Joe G said:
""Iain you really are losing it bigtime.""

Indeed he is if Mr McWhirter's Essay of the week in today's Sunday Herlad is anything to go by in which he claims 'Anarchy broke out in the UK last week'. Really?

Alas we cannot comment on Mr McWhirter's article - in the digital edition of the newspaper at any rate.

If we could we might, very reasonably, point out to Mr McWhirter that on Tuesday night in Glasgow, for example, 65,000 or so turned out to watch a football benefit match and in the process raised £300,000 for charity.

No one in Scotland is complacent about the possibility of rioting breaking out hear, or feeling in any way superior to our southern neighbours. Calling these riots English riots is merely describing the situation accurately and with clarity.

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