Home Secretary helps launch book on political riots

John Reid last night helped launch the new book by respected Lobby Correspondent Ian Hernon on civil insurrection from Peterloo to the present day.

Some see Reid as a scary authoritarian but he made what even one jaded cynic saw as a very liberal speech defending detractors in the press who are doing a public service in increasing accountability of ministers.

I haven’t digested the book (published by Pluto) as a whole but had a quick skim through the chapter on the poll tax riot – the overall politics of which I was involved in back in the early 90s – and it’s both a fair and interesting account of how the Trafalgar Square riot came to take place. The book’s blurb says that “this lively book shows how the ugly roar of the mob has perhaps done more to change society than measured parliamentary debate.” I

’m afraid that it doesn’t cover the North (though he mentions that the RUC’s experience was closely monitored by other police forces) or Scotland but Riot seems like a very readable analysis of what Martin Luther King called “the language of the unheard” even if such language is rarely justifiable in conditions of full democracy.

Gary Kent is a graduate of international relations. After spells in management in British Rail and the Co-Op he began work in parliament in 1987 where he was active for two decades on Anglo-Irish peace activity against terrorism and now as secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which he has visited 27 times since 2006. He used to be a columnist for Fortnight Magazine and writes a regular column for the Kurdish Rudaw outlet and many other publications.