Nostalgia For The Eighties; It’s In Fashion…

Oliver Wright in the ‘Indy’ on the riots, desperately trying to proclaim them as the ‘inevitable result’ of lessons left unlearned after the last Broadwater Farm-related shindig:

When the ashes had been cleared, the events at Broadwater Farm lead to much soul-searching about community relations and the economic viability of one of London’s poorest areas.

How much has changed?

Well, it seems the answer is ‘Not a lot’.

Bernie Grant, then the leader of Haringey council and later the area’s MP, caused outrage when he reacted to the police request for plastic bullets to deal with future potential rioting. “The reason why the police are calling for plastic bullets is because the police got a bloody good hiding,” he told a crowd in the days after the riot. Turning to a handful of police officers who were standing nearby he added: “I hope you’re listening. There is no way I am going to condemn the actions of the youth on Sunday night.” By contrast David Lammy, the area’s current MP, said yesterday: “We have officers in hospital, some of whom are seriously injured. It’s a disgrace. This must stop.”

But, underlining the problems that still remain, the MP’s comments were met with cries of “the police want to see the place burn” from the crowd.

In other words, when the MP tells the rioting thugs what they want to hear, everything’s rosy. When he doesn’t…

Oddly, though I’ve no time whatsoever for the likes of David Lammy, I can’t quite see that as his fault, somehow…

Clive Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association, said this reaction was not atypical. “People feel disenfranchised. The police are a long way off representing the community.””While we wouldn’t want to use that as an excuse to justify that sort of violence, there’s no way we can ignore what has happened. There will be lessons to learn but this time we have to learn them. What we are missing is the issue of representation.

You have ‘representation’, but when he rightly points out to people the consequences of their actions, he is booed.

I wonder why Tottenham couldn’t seem to elect another Bernie Grant? Is it because, come election time, there were sensible, hard-working people who wouldn’t stand for it?

And now they’ve been burned out, will they get the ‘representation’ they seem to desire?

Tottenham is in Haringey, where more than 10,000 people claim jobseeker’s allowance. In Tottenham itself, recent government figures showed there were 54 people chasing each job.


Funny, they don’t seem able to catch one, yet the local papers are full of them…

Brian Haley, who served as a councillor in Tottenham for 16 years until last year, said the area had received a lot of investment after the 1985 riots – but that had not altered the fundamental problems. “Nothing changes,” he said. “Politicians are coming out saying it is different to 25 years ago but it is not. They were not there; I was. There have been promises but no delivery. Northumberland Park Ward [near the scene of the rioting] is one of the most deprived areas in Europe, it has been like that for decades,” he added.

Really? It’s more ‘deprived’ than some poor areas of Spain or France, with no running water or electricity, and only farm work? I find that hard to believe…

And since you’ve been a councillor for sixteen years, perhaps we should wonder what you’ve been doing to help?

“There is high unemployment, low educational achievement– but none of this is new.”The media will be gone in a few days and the people of Tottenham will be the ones who have to pick up the pieces,” he said.

No they won’t. The decent people will have all fled. The ones that will be left will be the ones looking to have other people pick up the pieces.

And there will be a flock of ‘community leaders’ looking to make their own fortunes (political and financial) on the back of it.

So, maybe it really IS just like the Broadwater Farm of the Eighties…?

12 comments for “Nostalgia For The Eighties; It’s In Fashion…

  1. Robert Edwards
    August 9, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Which is fine, as far as it goes. Bernie Grant, happily, is no longer with us and I hope he died an unhappy man and in great pain. I just heard that odious thug Simon Hughes (there is something deeply unpleasant about that man) on the radio calling for all sorts of escalation. Bloody obvious, really, but the risk here is huge; there’s much talk of putting soldiers on the streets…

    I think that as soon as you put soldiers on the streets you are in big, big trouble.

    Firstly, it’s a tacit admission that plod is not up to the job. They are clearly not, but a bad move, nonetheless.

    Secondly, the Army is not trained it riot control and if push comes to shove, there is only one outcome – bodies, and probably lots of them. I have no problem with that, but these people do not dick about. Ask the Taliban…

    Thirdly, given the inevitable outcome of a civil/military confrontation, I’m not sure it would be entirely fair on the squaddies, who have a hard enough time as it is.

    The police have sufficient resources to sort this out – cavalry, water cannon, TASERS, big slobbery dogs, etc. All it requires is the will to do it. That seems to be totally absent.

    But at least nobody has tried to decapitate a plod and stick his head on a pole, so perhaps we have moved on a bit…

    It’s tempting to call in the same firm who ‘dealt with’ the Warsaw ghetto, but that way lies madness.

    • August 9, 2011 at 8:42 am

      “Secondly, the Army is not trained it riot control and if push comes to shove, there is only one outcome – bodies, and probably lots of them. I have no problem with that…”

      Me neither. So long as it’s the right people. The people like the late, unlamented Mark Duggan.

  2. August 9, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I think that as soon as you put soldiers on the streets you are in big, big trouble.

    That’s so and did you see the Telegraph headline:

    Birmingham hit by riots as internet campaign encourages violence

    Ah yes, the internet – causes riots – needs to be regulated

    • August 9, 2011 at 8:42 am

      What are they going to say when they see the various hashtags on Twitter and FaceBook parties organised to clean up the riot-hit areas?

      Bet it doesn’t get half as much publicity….

      • Robert Edwards
        August 9, 2011 at 8:51 am

        WTF is a hashtag? Deeply confused…

        • August 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm

          On Twitter, if you preface a word with # it is then searchable. So #LondonRiots gets you every Tweet everyone’s tagged as such…

  3. August 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

    What I love about these riots is that afterwards all the commentators chip in their tupp’orth and try and explain who to blame and how to prevent it in future, but all they are really doing is trotting out their usual prejudices and predilections and adding nothing to the debate. And that includes you, Robert Edwards and presumably me.

    • Robert Edwards
      August 9, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Well, that’s probably fair enough, Mark. I don’t love anything about these riots, and my prejuidices are generally fairly well-buttoned-up(or at least, I like to think so) and I have no axe to grind. But I’m worried about my daughter, who lives up in t’smoke.

      But we are seeing, perfectly, the best and the worst of our population coming out at the same time. I find it curiously moving.

  4. Robert Edwards
    August 9, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I take your point, James. Liverpool? Big surprise. Bristol? Big surprise. Brum? I’m quite surprised at that.

    By the way, the Indy piece is pure Polyfilla. Total crap. Startled I was to read “additional reporting” by somebody called Calahan.

    “Additional reporting?” FFS…

  5. LJHills
    August 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Theresa May believes in “policing with consent” as a response to anarchy and impunity. BTW, these clips at won’t find their way onto the BBC but brought home just how nasty, personal and vindictive these criminals are.

  6. August 9, 2011 at 10:25 am

    The government has got to get a grip today – before nightfall.

    • August 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Yes. Sadly, there’s no sign of that happening.

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