The establishment thought they could carry on laughing at the poor on Jeremy Kyle for ever. It turns out they couldn’t

August 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm (James Bloodworth, poverty, riots, socialism, the cops, youth)

By James Bloodworth; cross-posted from ‘Obliged to Offend’

The political reaction to the riots has already begun, with Cameron flying back
from his holidays amidst increasingly enthusiastic talk of the military being
deployed on British streets. Last night the rioting spread out of London and
erupted in Birmingham, Nottingham, and if reports are to be believed, Bradford.
The reaction of the media and politicians thus far has been a demonstrable sense
of not knowing how to react. As one Tweeter put it: “Simply repeating that the
looting is ‘pure criminality’ is like telling us the sky’s blue. We know that.
Why are our youngsters pure criminals?”.

It is a thoroughly dispiriting
sight to see large swathes of London engulfed in flames. Widespread looting is
taking place and the police everywhere appear overwhelmed by the sheer numbers
involved. To make a slightly fatuous comparison, it brings back memories of the
school playground on those once-a-year occasions when a sort of mass
disobedience erupted, the very psychological stability of the crowd
disintegrating as events unfolded.

Jody McIntyre has been sacked
from his position on the Independent for allegedly “inciting violence,” after a
Tweet encouraging the rioters; calls are being made to shut down London’s mobile
phone networks and target those using social networking sites to plan more
unrest; and the Etonions leading the country have been forced to fly back from
their European villas. I think I failed to mention that the stock market is in
freefall, too.

The response of the establishment thus far has been to
close ranks. Both Labour and the Conservatives are speaking in a unified voice
in a desire to attach themselves to the groundswell of reaction that is surely
on its way. Old Labourites who have accepted the “inevitability” of the
free-market can be heard dismissing the grievances of the rioters as “not
genuine,” rendering true the cliché that what was in the past “a response to
injustice” is always in the present “totally unacceptable”.

The reaction
of most comfortably-off people has been to dismiss the violent scenes as the
result of an over-indulged poor, giddy on benefits, feral and spoiling for
violence. This impression of the underclass, if you wish to call it that, is
acquired from television shows such as Jeremy Kyle and the reactionary press. In
reality, most people rarely come in to contact with those languishing on
Britain’s inner city council estates.

One ex-police officer on
television today remarked that the rioters appeared to be motivated by, not so
much a cause, as sheer, naked greed. The “greed is good” mantra is about the
only thing that has trickled down to the
very bottom of society in recent years. As Sean Matgamma points out:

“The deprived young people…have come out on the streets to fight
those they see as their enemy, the police, and to grab a little instant
prosperity…They live in a society where great robbers and swindlers are
admired whether or not they are legal, semi-legal or downright criminal. Where
they enrich themselves without any regard for other people.”

It seems quite likely that within a few days the talk will
move from reaction to offensive, spurred on, if I can say it without causing
confusion, by the forces of reaction. The law-and-order brigade is already
making itself visible in the guise of talking heads on the BBC news. The rioting
will give them the excuse to offer simplistic yet satisfying solutions to the
more complex problems of widespread poverty and the resulting hopelessness.
There are already reports of black people in London who are wearing new trainers
being stopped and asked for receipts, with the threat of arrest hanging over
their heads if they don’t provide them.

There is a lot of class hatred
swilling around right now; and however unpleasant the looting and destruction of
livelihoods is, the truth is that the hatred and spite directed for many years
at the underclass is being reflected back at so-called civilised society in the
crooked mirror of deprived estates up and down the country.

And therein
lies the establishment’s mistake: They thought they could go on laughing at the
poor on Jeremy Kyle for ever. As it turns out, they couldn’t

The Guardian has published a complete list of all the action, here. H/t: Roger


  1. Jim Denham said,

    Roger has just drawn my attention to this, by Kanan Malik, one of the more sensible and intelligent of the ‘Spiked’ / ‘Institute of Ideas’ people:

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Stafford Scott in the ‘Guardian’

    “First, looting comes from the belief that if you cannot get equality and cannot expect justice, then you better make sure that you ‘get paid’. ‘It’s all about the money!’ is the motto of too many young black men, who have given up all hope of attainment in a white man’s world. This is an absolute belief for those looting at the weekend – born not only out of their experiences but their parents’, too. They want to follow the rappers and athletes who live ghetto-fabulous lifestyles based on natural talents, as opposed to learned skills. They can’t see that coming through education: those who live on estates generally survive from one wage packet to the next. Sadly this mindset also makes it easier to legitimise the selling of drugs, as that too ‘brings in the money’.”

    Utterly depressing

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Self-important prick:

    Tuesday, August 09, 2011

    Al Jazeera on the riots, posted by lenin

    Al Jazeera interviewed me for this article:

    Tottenham, where Duggan was killed, is a Haringey neighbourhood which has among the highest unemployment rates in London – and a larger than average youth population. People of colour here have particularly felt the effects of deteriorating social services and targeted police harassment and violence, said author Richard Seymour.

    “There’s kids here who basically no one cares about, and nobody does anything for,” said Seymour, a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics. “When the rioters themselves are asked, they will say that they are abused by police, harassed by them, and nobody’s done a thing about it.”

    Seymour also explained that after many of the 333 deaths in police custody between 1998 and 2010 in Britain, “Large, peaceful protests in response [to the in-custody deaths] were more or less ignored” and not a single officer has been prosecuted.

    As a result, Duggan’s killing crossed a threshold for young people, angry with the systems that have left them behind, and tired of non-violent protest that goes without much response….

  4. Jim Denham said,

    From Janine

    This looks like a very positive event I think we should support it and take part in it.



    Give Our Kids a Future! A North London Unity Demonstration
    Gillett Square Dalston to Tottenham Green, 1pm-3pm

    This march is called by The North London Assembly, a temporary Assembly which saw 70 local community activists meet at the North London Community House on Tuesday 9th August to discuss our reaction to the riots of early August in Tottenham and Hackney. It includes people from many Turkish and Kurdish community groups, like Day Mer and Gik Der, and also the Haringay and Hackney Alliances for Public Services who are all supporting this march.
    We state that this is not us seeking to represent the community but it is our attempt to try to bring unity to the community in which we live. It is neither supporting nor condeming the events but seeking the most positive outcome from them.
    This will be a positive and peaceful march with an Assembly at the end for people to express what they are thinking about recent events

  5. James Bloodworth said,

    Seymour actually said to me recently on Facebook that he couldn’t have a debate with me because I am “nowhere near clever enough”. Self important prick indeed.

  6. Roger said,

    Actually if I knew Kenan Malik was part of the Milosevic-worshipping Spiked crew I wouldn’t have read his piece at all much less recommended it!

  7. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    malik is ‘loosley’ allighned with the spiked cunt mob of cunTS. speaks at there ‘engagements’ and the like. articles in ‘publications’ and the like. a fuckking cunt in other words.

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