Panic on the streets of London
By Chris Taylor
If I hear or read one more bell-end claim that the disturbance in London isn’t political but just about nicking and greed, I’m going to kick their windows in and nick their flat screen and all their shoes.
I have a vested interest in this. The Greggs that went up in Peckham? That’s my Greggs. That’s where I get my ham, cheese and pickle bloomers and sausage and bean melts from. It’s a ten minute walk from my door. The bus that got set on fire is the bus I take home from work.
When the violence spread to East Dulwich you would have been able to hear the smashing of glass and the bleeping of Blackberries from my front room.
Luckily for me I’m not there. I left London last Friday for a break back up North with the family, leaving the cat to push the dresser up behind the front door on her own. Watching the news is a doubly surreal event for me, because I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to go home to a burnt out shell of a flat, or just general post-apocalyptic savagery. But this is the Peckham border-lands remember. Post-apocalyptic savagery is the norm.
But of course this is more than kids just nicking. It isn’t about greed. Just because an act doesn’t have political aims, doesn’t mean this act isn’t politically motivated.
The long term marginalisation of the British youth has led them to feel oppressed, ignored, and hopeless. And if you make a section of society feel like ostracised outsiders, they’re eventually going to act like it. No respect for their community and their city? Well when have the community and the city ever showed them any respect?
Don’t believe me? Well look at how these rioters have been described. Some wanker from the Telegraph referred to them as an underclass. Feral has become the adjective of choice to describe the teenagers of London.
Many are seriously, without irony, calling for the deployment of the army on the capital’s streets. The continued and aggressive dehumanisation of the youth that kicked all this mither off continues unabated.
What you’re seeing in London, and Birmingham, and Liverpool is a mass outpouring of directionless anger. Anger at the institutionalised racism of the Metropolitan Police (Black youths are six times as likely to be stop and searched than whites, Asian youths twice as likely) and at the lack of opportunities available to them.
As Ken Livingstone (funny how the former mayor managed to be in the city, and the present, floppy haired, ex-Bullingdon club cunt of an incumbent didn’t) said, this is the first time the younger generation have fewer opportunities than their parents.
I’d never defend the arson, and the lootings, and beatings, and destruction of property and livelihoods. But I’d also never seek to condemn the perpetrators without at least trying to get a sense of what has caused their dissatisfaction. One rioter, shortly after the media dropped the term protestor, was asked whether he thought rioting was the best way to express his discontent.
“Yes.” The lad replied. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you? Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”
The government’s response to the trouble has been worse than pathetic. Cameron sunned himself in Tuscany for three days before even thinking of coming home. Boris Johnson has mercifully remained absent so as not to make things worse by dicking about looking and acting like a twat. No government representative could be found to comment on Newsnight. Just who the fuck is meant to be running this country?
But sadly I fear this won’t lead to the downfall of the government, but instead enable them to sneak in draconian and even more right-wing laws to control and kerb meaningful protest. A rightward swing of public opinion, egged on by the Daily Mail and the rest of the gutter press, will see to it that if anything the Tories will strengthen their position.
Already the odious Nick Griffin is using the riots as a way of furthering his disgusting political party, fingering ethnic minorities as the trouble makers. Meanwhile in Dalston members of London’s Turkish and Kurdish community lined the streets to protect their homes and businesses and to chase off any potential rioters.
Similar was happening in largely Asian areas. While the police struggled to maintain order across South London, elsewhere normal, working class people were pulling together to protect each other. As a philosophy it’ll never catch on.
Whether or not this trouble will spread to the streets of Manchester remains to be seen. There are rumours flying about that it has started already as I write this, but the news of two burning cars in Salford sounds more like business as usual than man the barricades.
I could, if I was being trite and trying to forge a neat ending with a microcosm of this story, link all this in to FC United and our role in Moston and beyond, but I’ll leave that for another time.
Instead I’ll just quote Martin Luther King Jr., who once said that a riot is the language of the unheard. Well they’ve been heard now, but is any fucker listening?