Can we find the tipping point when protest becomes riot?

When some people have a serious grievance like an alleged (don’t foreget that “alleged”) wrongful fatal shooting, they rise up in their just wrath and –  trash the place.  A hideous non sequitur to you and me, a “protest”  to many  in places where we don’t live. 30 years ago I covered the Brixton riots which were sparked – not caused  –  by a minor misunderstanding and  false rumours. When I and my crew were packing up in a side street  after a very hot day in 1981, along came a bunch of alarming looking whites, dressed in punk S&M. I was sure we were for it. Then one of them, naked below his leather studded waistcoat, pulled it back and spoke into it … Agents provocateurs or what?

Much has changed, not least police riot techniques. “ Institutional racism” has been analysed and  much reduced.  But how much has really changed on both sides?   Ploddy cops and doublespeaking “community leaders.”  Crime is crime versus the police were at fault.  Sus and Broadwater  Farm in 1985, stop and search and Broadwater Farm in 2011. But this time, no police officer killed – yet.  “Doubts emerge” over the police version of the shooting of Mark Doggan on Thursday evening. Winston Silcott had his conviction quashed for the murder of PC Blakelock in 1985 but not for another murder. It’s all a grim reminder of how thin is the veneer of civilisation. What is the tipping point when aimless or angry youth  throws off restraints?  Local lessons apply. But what ones exactly?

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  • Scáth Shéamais

    The Guardian has suggested some potential sparks for the riot that were overlooked by the BBC report above:

    Duggan’s relatives are said to have left the area when the rioting began. His brother, Shaun Hall, distanced the family from the Saturday night disturbances.

    He said there may have been a “domino effect” from the unanswered questions surrounding his brother’s death, but said the family “don’t condone at all” violence perpetrated in his name.

    Others present said the spark for the rioting was a specific incident involving a 16-year-old woman, who stepped forward to confront police around 8.30pm, demanding answers, but was attacked with shields and batons.

    “They beat her with a baton, and then the crowd started shouting ‘run, run’, and there was a hail of missiles,” said Anthony Johnson, 39. “She had been saying: ‘We want answers, come and speak to us.'”

    Laurence Bailey, who was in a nearby church, described seeing the girl throw a leaflet and what may have been a stone at police.

    Bailey said the girl was then “pounded by 15 riot shields”. “She went down on the floor but once she managed to get up she was hit again before being half-dragged away by her friend,” he said.

    In some ways, the truth about the alleged incident involving the 16-year-old did not matter; the rumour that police had attacked a girl was incendiary enough.

  • Cynic2

    “who stepped forward to confront police around 8.30pm, demanding answers, but was attacked with shields and batons.”

    Yeah yeah ….so where is she? Has she been on camera?

    And now we have the narrative that it’s all the police seeking to oppress the righteous yoof protesting about the police shooting a gunman in an area where black on black gun crime is endemic and ‘community leaders’ demand that ‘something must be done’.

    Perhaps Mr Duggan was the wrong kind of gunman for the police to confront given that he was so popular that those protesting seem to have burned down a lot of the local area, of course, after looting the shops to rob the designer clothes, TV sets, laptops etc..

  • oracle

    Shows yet again the criminal psychotic trash employed by government bodies to act as legalised assassins.
    But sure so long as he’s Black Muslim or an Brazilian lookalike Muslim on the underground who gives a fuck, just a handy whitewash with the turned eye of a subservient media and hey presto.
    I guess since Gibraltar all these treacherous sneaky evil dead people carry “button-jobs”

    Do you not think that these steroid pumping muscle-bound uniform wearers that bust a gut to get to brandish a Heckler and Kock MP5 amongst the public should be stopped from doing so just for wanting the job in the first place.

    There is little or no difference between official gangs and criminal gangs when it comes to mindsets both are powerful through weaponry, both desire to kill, and both have comrades willing to lie through the teeth to hide the truth from the public… namely you!

    When you have an oversized heavily muscled gorilla wearing a state uniform and carrying a firearm then you have the wrong person in the job!

  • At least, Brian, the Metropolitan Police didn’t apologise to the rioters afterwards. which, after Short Strand flag stunt, is some progress. I was living in London in the summer of the brixton riots, but in northwest of the city.

  • One of the saddest aspects of the past 40 years (and London has been catching up quickly) has been the emergence of “community leaders”.
    Everytime I hear the phrase, I just “groan”.
    The interview with a hoodie using his red hoodie to good effect…….mumbling something about Mr Duggan would not be crazy enough to shoot at police……was a low point.
    Likewise Community Leaders spoke about this not being the “uprisings” (sic) of the 1980s.
    But not too far behind was David Lammy MP for Tottenham who toured the scene, talking about outsiders coming into Tottenham.
    Every inch the “New Labour” MP, Lammy showed that he is no Bernie Grant. For all his faults Grant would never do “double speak”.

    Im an annual visitor to London and frankly Ive never liked it. Suburban commuters sit on the Tube with the people who make London work. And yet they never actually connect. Two ethnic groups. An Overclass and an Underclass. And every visit there reminds me that for seven days I am promoted to a kinda Overclass of Tourist and I dont much care for it.
    Tipping points?
    A certain amount of recreational rioting…….and it has to be said “looting” which is seemingly something our local rioters have not quite fully grasped as a concept.
    Recereational and Opportunistic…..there is no point in thinking that anyone making down the street with the latest laptop or 40 inch plasma TV is actually interested in Mr Duggan……except of course to thank him for the business opportunity his death gave to so many.

    Indeed I dont know the circumstances of Mr Duggans death.
    They seem less questionable than the death of the young Brazilian guy in 2005 and nobody rioted “for him”.

  • ..just to add it does ot bode well for next years Olympics which increasingly appear like a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Apart from accidents of geography, I fail to see immediate parallels between Brixton/Tottenham then and Tottenham/Enfield/Brixton/Hackney/Wood Green/Walthamstow now.

    North Tottenham today is not what it was in 1985. Thanks to the “troubles” (NI doesn’t have a monopoly) in the the Balkans, in the near and middle East, in West and East Africa, many waves of incomers have diluted the Black Caribbean population. And introduced new and inventive ways of extracting tribute.

    Take a look at the several sites which identify and even laud and applaud the gangs of North London. For those too idle to google for themselves, start here. You may notice that the “Yardies” (on the whole they weren’t; but were prepared to talk the talk) have been surrounded by even more violent and unconscionable others. The loss of turf (and revenues) may not entirely be unrelated here. “Purple City” (you’ll find that explained, too) owes more to an X-rated console-game than any Guardian-reader’s notion of “community”.

    The other difference is communication. The use of Blackberries for networking is now the norm. The hard men, those infamous “godfathers” are now more spread out, but they have their BMWs and (as Nick de Bois, MP, complains, their GTIs). Via the Blackberry messaging system (not Twitter — that’s too transparent) they can summon their foot-soldiers. It will be the PBI of these gangs being arrested and threatened with the full venom of Theresa May’s tut-tutting crack-down.

    What is going on here is greed: no more, no less.

    So take a look at which shops, which homes, and the ethnic origins of their owners that are looted and torched. This isn’t entirely random. The PCWorld store in North Tottenham was well and truly done over: the Apple Mac gear went AWOL first. This is larceny by brand name.

    Can it be stopped? Yes. Will it be so by present means? Perhaps. In the long term? No — unless there is widespread acceptance of a change in attitudes to authority. “Zero tolerance”, we are told, breaches the policing norm that is serving the community, safeguarding lives and property, protecting the innocent, keeping the peace and ensuring the rights of all to liberty, equality and justice. You’ll find that cited on wikipedia and its numerous rip-offs as “Robinson, 2002”: it actually comes from Matthew B. Robinson’s Justice Blind? Ideals and Realities of American Criminal Justice. I’ll bet the majority of Londoners (like Belfasters, Derryers and others) wouldn’t ming a bit of the ZT tonight and always.

    So, back to the old reliables: CCTV and the odd unfortunate PC in a hospital bed.

  • I cant pretend to know London well. But oddly the once-a-year trips (much more frequent when I was single) makes me more aware of changes.
    My interest has moved sarf of the River from Kilburn/Harrow Road to Rotherhithe/Surrey Quays……and oddly last May a wave of nostalgia and a big red bus brought me back to the Harrow Road and Portobello Market.
    Very odd…… has a totally different “vibe” from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    But it seems that protest marches and riots have no…or should have…….no connexion. No “tipping point” at all.
    We enter into a contract when we go on a march. Ignore the traffic lights and walk on the Road. And actually facilitated by the Police.
    When it works … works well.
    When it doesnt…..that “tipping point” its often because of the mutual animosity.
    A minority of marchers might want to havea go at the “Pigs” and the “Pigs” might want to crack open a few skulls of lefties, anarchists, blacks, vegetarians or just Guardian readers.
    Its often not how it is in the A Levell course on the British Constitution.

    But what begets this lawlessness…..beyond the faciliated right to ignore the traffic lights…… general most of us are inhibited from illegality by having a conscience. Those of us who need the additional inhibitor of The Law.are doubly sure to keep on the right side of it.
    But it strikes me that there is no “tipping point”. This was too manipulated and todays disturbances are not any part of a “tipping point”.
    Im not a big fan of ex-Scotland Yardie John O’Connors appearances on Sky News….but it was refreshing to hear him call it like it is.
    I have no knowledge of Tottenhams “community leaders”.
    I know our own too well. Equally divided between the “sincere” and “spoofers”.
    Yet these looters are feeding off Human Misery……and its anti social and illegal.
    But in another part of London commodity brokers and bankers who are feeding off Human Misery…..and its all very social and even legal.

  • Thanks for that, fitzjameshorse1745, my Jacobite hero and friend.

    I have to — in the short term — live in Norf Lunnun. The youngest of the tribe commutes daily through a couple of these trouble-spots.

    I am no friend of this present Government. Yet, oddly enough, for the first time since May 2010, I wonder if “events, dear boy, events” could overthrow this administration a lot sooner than 2015.

    There is a genuine fear of something different this time. I doubt there are many homes across London (or even Birmingham) not obsessed tonight with the feeds off BBC News and Sky News. In many ways this is more traumatic than 7/7: at least then there was a terminus ad quem. Tonight — so far — there is only more of the same.

    Blasted Boris is back: whoopee!

    Cameron will chair a COBRA tomorrow. Whoppie-doo.

    I await the headline: The third London Blitz — I offer that one, for free.

    Tomorrow, many of the London suburbs — not all of them the reservations of the underclass — will still reek of stale smoke, and have their burned-out sites.

    All my NI friends will be saying, “So what?” Yeah: but this time the Sturm und Drang came a wee bit closer home. Say a 20-minute tube ride to Westminster. So … watch this space.

    My guess: the recruits at Sandhurst are on call. After all, they’re about the last reserve left.

    In the short term, the Great London Public will require “confidence measures” — a Heckler & Koch, for example — on view.

    In the middle term (say tomorrow night) this must all be stopped.

    In the not-too-distant term, a whole parade of individuals will be sent away for extended periods, at Her Majesty’s Hotels.

    If Cameron and his crew fail on any of those, retribution follows. And — by the way — the more Liberal LibDems are decidedly restless.

  • Rory Carr

    We had one of the less liberal LibDems in Tottenham earlier today telling us all that Saturday night;s riots and subsequent unrest had nothing whatsoever to do with the police shooting of Mr Duggan.

    Even our crawly Blairite establishment toady of a local M.P. did not risk swimming quite so far from the shores of reality. Whatever of the lack of justification for the continuing rioting, arson and burglary (the buglary I see seems to be of particuar concern to our Acting Commissioner at the Met) and looting and its spread to other Greater London (and indeed other metropolitan areas) the catalyst for Saturday night’s riot was the shooting of Mark Duggan followed closely by prevarication, lies and a rush to cover up by those involved . The apparent beating by police of a sixteen year-old girl at the otherwise peaceful protest at Tottenham Police Station seems to have been the immediate catalyst that kicked off hostilities.

    We are speculating here that the poor police response might be explained in part by a tactical consideration on their part not unconnected with their ongoing dispute with the government over…er, terms and conditions.

  • Rory Car r@ 11:00 pm:

    Sorry to breach all the usual rules of discourse, but …

    There are times when, if you don’t know what’s the score, you sit down, you watch, you wait to catch up, but above all … you shut up.

  • Interestingly I phoned my sister in Rotherhithe when I saw Simon Hughes her MP saying things were not good in Walworth.
    And my sister was able to say that the Yoof had been called to the Elephant & Castle and at the Surrey Quays. Although neither of these are on TV.
    And yet the bus (10C) from Victoria to Surrey Quays is an odd experience.
    (As indeed is the other bus that goes via Bermondsey).
    And really says all that is hateful about London.

    Between Victoria and the River, council blocks mingle with upmarket houses around Pimlico. Young white children (with strange French berets) get on the bus with their nannies and young mostly black kids from the local comprehensive get on St Thomas’ Hospital and for a people watcher, its two classes on one bus. Down Tooley (?) Street and down Jamaica Road (wasnt that the name of the main thoroughfare in Dixon of Dock Green?) and people getting off at either the council flats where Jade Goody lived or the posher waterfront converted warehouses.
    London in a nutshell.
    In my little obscure village, there is but one shop and the villagers can afford to shop there.
    And in the local town . Or even Belfast. More or less.

    Yet walk thru an arcade near Piccadilly and check out that the stores dont show prices. If you need to know the price, you cant afford it. Or walk from Piccadilly Circus up Warwick Street (excellent Jacobite history) to that Sqyuare where the chauffeurs stand around waiting for the Posh People.

    And thats London. So class ridden that it gets to an old class warrior like me. Why dont you folks do something I mumble where everything is about MONEY…..the poorest Londoners, the street cleaners and bus drivers existing purely to provide services to the Chelsea people…or the people who get off at mainline stations.
    The Cheeky Cockernee?
    Frankly Ive never met a happy Londoner.
    They walk past shops……or even work in shops where they cant afford to shop.
    God awful place. Im surprised people co-exist there in the best of economic times.
    And no surprise that the facade is so quickly wiped away.

  • orly

    Moochin Photoman


  • FJH. All London needs now is a residents group with Gerry parachuted in. I can’t help thinking, while watching this on TV tonight, that I used to walk from Camden town market on Sunday afternoons up to Swiss Cotttage and coming up on Kilburn High Rd in the year of the Brixton riots, and the place was dead as doornail. I’d never have believed they’d be dealing with this now.

  • andnowwhat

    The government spent 30 years making citizens in to consumers and now we have the 21st century phenomenon of commercial rioting.

    The Met need to bring in Matt Baggot. He’ll sort it all out

  • Why not Hugh Orde…….he said last week that an American should not be Commissioner of Metropolitan Police on account of coming from a different culture and London need a person who fits into the culture………but er wasnt he the Chief Constable of the PSNI?

  • andnowwhat

    I was being sarcastic about Baggot FJH.

    He wouldn’t make it as a bouncer in The Early Learning Centre.

  • Hysteria ensues

    Well, fitzjameshorse1745 and others, you may jest about the Met’s next Commissioner, even if he/she isn’t the essential problem — “To lose one Commissioner, Mr Johnson, might be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

    That apart, I seriously, seriously suggest …

    1. Cameron is back in town. So is Blasted Boris. If this persists another night, if nobody gets a grip, both politically are cat’s meat.

    2. In my youth I used to trill (to the tune of Green grow the rushes, oh!) such revolutionary ditties as “Red flow the gutters, oh!”. They made more sense when we were emerging from a good night in O’Neill’s in Suffolk Street. In reality, I never expected, in my lifetime, to see the overthrow of the capitalist system.

    3. There was that old joke: “Things can’t be too serious. Kate Adie hasn’t shown up yet.”

    Well, I reckon the old girl (my present nod to NI in this post) must be on her way, because — short of something approaching martial law — they’re not getting the lid back on this one.

    The next twenty-four hours could well be a land-mark in English — that’s English — political history. One way or another, this is the Boy Dave’s Port Stanley moment.

    If you’re a long way from the action, enjoy. Just make sure your investments are well diversified.

  • Socialist Paradise Delayed I fear…..rather than Found.
    But 4am and I just spent interesting night watching Sky News and BBC News.
    Not quite sure its the End of Days but certainly the spread is interesting. Radio (Five Live & Talk radio) have actually been more interesting. Phone calls from residents, business owners and witha few BBC and Sky staff living around Ealing, their phone calls from their front doors has probably more effect than the Kate adie in a combat jacket.

    But stories where Journalists speculate on whether they should IGNORE News in order to make the situation better or whether they are needed to stem the rumours on “social networking sites” deserves some debate.

    TV does not seem to have caught up with the phone calls ..or maybe we should treat the phone calls as unsubstantiated and TV more reliable.
    But people saying things like “bring in the military” and paradoxically call for “national service” for the looters seems a bit odd.
    Its a storm…..I suspect it will blow itself out, mainly by people just going home and the police re-occupying the High Street.
    But the Olympic Games seems more like a burden now than a reward.
    Awarded a day before 7/7 in 2005 it was already going to be a nightmare for the police.
    More so now.
    O2, Vodafone, JD Sports, Argos, Currys would be foolish to carry too much stock during the Olympics.

  • Its a storm…..I suspect it will blow itself out, mainly by people just going home and the police re-occupying the High Street.

    A two-clause statement: the first part is a consummation devoutly to be wished; the second is wishful thinking. What these last two nights have shown is that the thin blue line cannot be everywhere, especially in the required numbers. The power of the Blackberry is that any shopping arcade anywhere can be threatened with a few electronic words. Until there are bodies in the dock, and heavy sentences noted by the media, the foot-soldiers will be answering the call for the pilfering. Now, a thought (on distraction tactics): while this was going one, were the odd ATM (with up to half-a-million on board) going missing?

    Socialist Paradise Delayed I fear….. Ah! ’twas ever thus.

  • Well its certainly not wishful thinking. Just an observation. I have no dog in this fight.
    But with an official from the British Olympic Association telling us about the healing nature of Sport……(and the police unable to police West Ham against Aldershot in the Carling Cup)…now thats what Id call “wishful thinking”.
    Of course immediately after the Olympics, London will have about 20% of its Police officers fired. And retired senior policemen saying that the PCs and sergeants are more afraid of ending up in the dock themselves than getting physically hurt.
    Of course some looters will end up in court…..but not a large percentage unless we have “Crimewatch Specials”.
    But there just isnt the prison space.
    They are “worse than terrorists” say the tweets to Eamonn Holmes and Theresa May says that Brish policing is not about water cannons.
    Meanwhile in a perfect metaphor, the Sky journo says he saw cops guard Barclays Bank while a shop across the road was looted.

    Confusion rules….not least because nobody dares mention race……just “inner city youths” but the footage I have seen shows a disproportionate amount of young black youths…but the good folk from BBC, ITN & Sky dare not say it.

  • Charminator

    “Confusion rules….not least because nobody dares mention race……just “inner city youths” but the footage I have seen shows a disproportionate amount of young black youths…but the good folk from BBC, ITN & Sky dare not say it.”

    Agree entirely fitzjameshorse. I suspect we’ve all noticed the obvious theme that’s being projected and the elephant “omission” in the room. That, coupled with the parts of London we’re hearing mentioned…. Peckham, Brixton, Tottenham – instead reveal a particularly unsettling ethnic theme to what’s happening. Whatever about the trumpet blast from the hard Left about equality of opportunity or as one activist leaped to the next logical step – equality of aspirations – I think we need to see this for what it is. Pure criminality without a cause by a great many who wouldn’t do a day’s work in a month of Sundays!

  • Neil

    The way we police in Britain is not with water cannon. The way we police in Britain is on the streets and with the communities.

    Theresa May

    No water cannon in Britain, nor rubber bullets either. Save that kind of carry on for the bog wogs what what.

  • …but the good folk from BBC, ITN & Sky dare not say it.

    Possibly because it’s not true.

    My (equally casual and not up-close-and-personal) impression is that the London mobs are now much more representative of the generality of London street youth. Only 1% of London’s population claims to be “Caribbean” any more. The gangs are emerging from the housing estates and high-rises where, for much of the time, they are invisible to “nice” people like us. In itself, that is symptomatic of something.

    Of course, your distance may vary.

  • This video is all the more chilling when you consider that it is in broad daylight

  • Serious typo alert: for “only 1%” try “only 10%’.

  • Charminator

    “My (equally casual and not up-close-and-personal) impression is that the London mobs are now much more representative of the generality of London street youth. Only 1% of London’s population claims to be “Caribbean” any more.”

    Does the “now” suggest that the riots are more representative as opposed to what they were at the outset…?
    In any case, I suggest you have a closer look at the parts of London where the rioting is most intense. Then perhaps have a quick look at the ethnic breakdown and see if there are any “interesting” features that we dare not allude to in any greater detail.

  • Charminator @ 8:49 am:

    My corner here? Forty-two years a London resident — all but seven in Haringey — and three terms as a Borough councillor.

    So, refer to the first three paragraphs of my post on 8 August 2011 @ 6:34 pm.

    Then do as you yourself say: have a closer look at the parts of London where the rioting is most intense.

    East Ham? Enfield? Perhaps you need to define what you imply about those “interesting” features. We are not so squeamish in our terminology.

  • pippakin

    Guido Fawkes is gleefully reporting that the British parliament has been recalled.

    I grew up in the east end of London and its unrecognisable today. Its not the fault of immigrants its the refusal of various and successive governments to recognise the need for people to assimilate to, if you like, muck in. Enclaves of this or that nationality have flourished as if even a common language is unnecessary.

    Its only a couple of months since the inquest of another man killed by a policeman, Ian Tomlinson. The policeman is to face trial for manslaughter. It took time, the police denied responsibility, the DPP declared there was not enough evidence but Mr Tomlinsons family worked quietly and tirelessly to ensure justice was seen to be done. No riots, no looting.

    These riots are nothing to do with the poor young man who died.

  • Charminator

    Thanks Malcolm.

    East Ham? Has the Jewish community taken to the streets en masse? I’ve certainly also been following what has been happening – and perhaps you might come back to us with an ethnic breakdown of Peckham, East Croydon, Tottenham?

    If what you’re suggesting (as seems to be the case) is that the composition of the rioters is proportionate to the Afro-Caribbean community’s proportion of the London population (I note you referred to 10% above), then I think you’re sadly wrong. A great many more than one in ten of the rioters was black. That is my contention. As to the backdrop, the whole “equality of aspirations” narrative, and the rest of the jargon, I’ll leave that to others to parse and analyse.

    But yes, a fairly greater proportion of the rioters – than the population as a whole – would very much seem to hail from London’s Afro-Caribbean community. (On that score, as a former councillor, I have little doubt you’re very well aware of the crime stats in this context too).

    If, of course, you’re assuring us that your 42 years as a London resident has demonstrated to you that everything is fine with London’s Afro-Caribbean community, then I’m sure Chuka Umunna and David Lammy will be thrilled to learn that. With such 42 years experience, I might also add, you’re aptly qualified to be Mayor, Home Secretary, and Prime Minister, all rolled into one, since none of the three can rely on such a wealth of wisdom.

  • DT123

    Viewing any of the uploaded videos,or news coverage will show that the majority of these “rioters” are Afro-Carribbean.The skirting around this fact by commenatators is pathetic.

  • Charminator @ 11:24 am:

    Don’t push it.

    Are you equating “London’s Afro-Caribbean community” with “non-pale-pink-persons” or some other mental disturbance? Anyway, a large preponderance of “London’s Afro-Caribbean community” are British-born and bred.

    The demographies of the London Boroughs are easily accessed on line. Check’em out: you might be surprised.

    Incidentally, I never realised that “Jewish” was an ethnic group. I thought it was a religious one.

    Lammy is of Guianese stock: does that qualify as “Caribbean” (except for cricket)? As for Chuka Umunna, to which group would you attribute him? His grandfather, Helenus “Buster” Milmo came of Sligo origins, was WW2 MI5 and a prosecutor at Nuremberg. Hmmm … this ethnic stereotyping gets tricky, doesn’t it?

  • Rory Carr

    As Malcolm Redfellow wrote earlier:

    “There are times when, if you don’t know what’s the score, you sit down, you watch, you wait to catch up, but above all … you shut up.”

    Such a pity, we might think, in his absolute refusal to recognise the evidence before him, that he seems constitutionally incapable of taking his own advice.

  • This is a set of photographs from the MET page on flickr showing the folks they’d love to have a wee chat with as regards the violence and looting

  • Well, Rory Carr @ 12:49 pm, there’s news and there’s good news for you at the Met Police Flickr feed, where the CCTV stuff is now coming on line.

    But I’d hate your preconceived prejudices to be spoiled by glimpses of reality.

  • Charminator

    Thanks Malcolm.

    As for your “Don’t push it” reference, not sure what that means, but sounds more like the response of a rioter threatening violence, than a balanced commentator. Quite a response from someone who initially suggested “We are not so squeamish in our terminology.”

    Thank you for the Chuka Umunna family tree lecture – I’m sure a great many of us here are all well aware his grandfather was a High Court judge and we’re not going to be sidetracked by your idle parsing of what is or is not an ethnic group or what is or is not the appropriate designation of such a group. The same could be done with “White British” and “White Irish” (ie what of “White English” or “White Welsh”). But, really, it’s all a little beside the point.

    I reiterate and stand over my central point:

    “If what you’re suggesting (as seems to be the case) is that the composition of the rioters is proportionate to the Afro-Caribbean community’s proportion of the London population (I note you referred to 10% above), then I think you’re sadly wrong. A great many more than one in ten of the rioters were black. That is my contention. As to the backdrop, the whole “equality of aspirations” narrative, and the rest of the jargon, I’ll leave that to others to parse and analyse.”

  • Malcolm Redfellow,
    Im not quite sure what your point is.
    If only 10% of London yoof consider themselves Caribean, the impression I have from watching days of rioting is that more than 10% of the rioters are “black” (Caribean or African).
    Its hardly a point that Im anxious to make as my neices there have an Irish mother and Sri Lankan father…..and Ive proudly held their hand in East Street Market, Walworth Road, Elephant & Castle and helped clean up after their white neighbours paid a visit.

    The Press are falling over themselves to say that London is an integrated city and this is a blip of multi ethnic rioting.
    It isnt.
    Nobody wants to mention that awkward elephant in the room and spoil the image that London has built for itself over 25 years.
    Faux lets get alongerism is not just for Belfast.
    Its alive and well and living in London.

  • Charminator @ 1:06 pm:

    I was suggesting you were “pushing it” by over-generalising on superficialities. Try it this way:
    ¶ “Black” ≠ “Caribbean”;
    ¶ “Black” ≠ “Afro-Caribbean”;
    ¶ “Black British” ≠ “Afro-Caribbean”;
    ¶ “West African” ≠ “Afro-Caribbean” (most definitely so).

    Don’t over-simplify. Don’t stereotype. For example, as I implied above, I, personally — like many of my Jewish and Sikh acquaintance — am uncomfortable that, for historical convenience, the RRA includes Jewish and Sikh as “ethnic” groups.

    Because of differential fertilities, the overall demographics are not the same as youth demographics. Across London 30.4% of the population are under 25: in Haringey (which is where this all started) it’s marginally higher. In 2005 the fastest expanding cohort across London were the 5-9s: those are now entering their teenage years (and many were on the streets the last couple of nights — alas!)

    You, like others here, have this fixation with a particular assumption of “race”. Those last inter-census figures (2005) had the largest ethnic groups in Haringey as White British (47.6%), White Other (14.1%), Caribbean (8.3%) and African (9.1%). For London as a whole: White British (58.2%), White Other (8.8%), Caribbean (4.4%) and African (5.5%). Crawfordsburn this ain’t. Further, I suspect the latest census will show a significant influx of Somalis and others.

    Haringey School Equality Scheme Guidance might illustrate the problem of your limited definition with this:
    What is defined as a race?
    The term race includes: colour, ethnic origin, nationality, national origin and citizenship.

    What is going ignored is the other dimension: “class”, which interprets as employment and economic status. In Haringey, for example, there is a distinct cleavage along the East Coast Main Line. That means, for example, that the equivalent of three large comprehensive schools migrate daily east-to-west across the Great Divide. A similar number go out-of-Borough from the more prosperous western wards. Now compare that with average house-prices for the various parts of the Borough. You might notice something, a differential up to greater than twice.

  • ‎”When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty and shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up and express their anger and frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard.”

    Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Rory Carr

    I’m afraid, Malcolm Redfellow, that whatever argument you believe you are having with me, judged on the basis of your comment at 1.05 p.m, is happening entirely inside your own head. But, please, don’t let that stop you., it’s beginning to be quite entertaining..

  • JR

    “It was good fun, we were just breaking into shops like” “Its about showing the poliece we can do what we want””it’s about the rich people, with businesses, we are just showing the rich people we can do what we want”

    Sorry MP I think rioting can also be the language of a mob who see an oppertunity for free drink, free jewelry, free mobile phone handsets, a chance to do something exciting and a chance to get on TV.

  • You’ll get no argument from me about that JR.
    I just think the quote does add something to the debate and is extremely prescient

  • fitzjameshorse1745 @ 1:51 pm:

    My “point” is:

    ¶ that I wish I could find anything as simple, unarguable and straightforward as many here find everything;

    ¶ that, just because the Daily Mail features an ethnic face for its featured front-page illustration, the answer isn’t “Black”, even if it fits so neatly into a dialogue box;

    ¶ that there simply aren’t enough “Afro-Caribbeans” (as I understand the term) to go round this whole swathe of mayhem across London — and I’ve just walked through middle-class Muswell Hill Broadway, where the Carphone Warehouse and the trendy kitchenware(!) shop windows are in;

    ¶ that the feral kid-mass isn’t racially homogeneous;

    ¶ that all the white kids aren’t nice, inoffensive and tucked up in bed with Teddy;

    ¶ that greed and destructiveness are not an ethnic trait.

  • Im clearly not suggesting that “black” people (and I dont get your redefinition of “black” as afro caribbean.) are bad. Clearly Im much too right on Guardian reader to say anything like that.
    But I think the Guardian (not out of the house today) might also feature black faces. Clearly Belfast has its feral underclass and its not Black… I dont want to be the Pot thats calling the Kettle…… afro Carribbean.

    As Ive made it clear Greed is not an ethnic trait. As I made clear, earlier in the thread “legal” Greed motivates the “Markets” and the mostly white faceless people who hang out around Spittalfields and Threadneedle Street.
    But anti-racists……and I have family reasons for making that a cause close to my heart……do their cause….my cause no favours by not acknowledging that a disproportionate number of the faces in the crowds of looters are actually black. As are the community leaders summoned to appear on Sky and Newsnight.

    In the interests of spurious multi ethnic “lets get alongerism” it is (I cant improve on the term already used) the elephant in the room.
    And frankly ignoring it will do more harm than good.
    Because Im sure theres more than “right on” people like myself who has noticed it.
    Sooner or later those nice English Defence League and BNP types in Burnley and Oldham will notice it……and say it.
    The surest way of making it a “race issue” is for people to ignore the obvious……..unless those live pictures feeding into BBC24 and Sky News are being edited by Daily Mail types.

    It would be counter-productive if liberals/lefties ignored the black looters and allowed the Daily Mail to set an agenda of sublimal images of (white) Mums Army types cleaning up.

  • ..and nice to see that David Cameron made his Downing Street speech in front of a black police officer on guard. (unlikely to have been placed there by the Daily Mail).
    Likewise when the Police release stills from CCTV for broadcast to catch culprits, we might learn the very rough proportion of black people actually involved…….not of course a scientific sample but the CCTV camera is more neutral than the Daily Mail.

  • Charminator

    Thanks Malcolm.

    As I mentioned before, I’m not entertaining (or dignifying for that matter) some ethnic classification debate with you based on whatever label is currently fashionable. Some of your premises are mistaken and we all know (in Ireland possibly better than most) that ALL labels inherently over-generalise anyway (try White British, White English, then White Cornish….). Frankly, it’s entirely irrelevant to the point I’m making.

    Now you’ve said that “there simply aren’t enough “Afro-Caribbeans” (as I understand the term) to go round this whole swathe of mayhem”, that “the feral kid-mass isn’t racially homogeneous”, that “all the white kids aren’t nice, inoffensive and tucked up in bed with Teddy”, and that “greed and destructiveness are not an ethnic trait” but who are you arguing with there??? Who has suggested to the contrary??? You’ve set up your own make-believe arguments which no one else here (and certainly not myself) have advanced, only to then deconstruct them which, of course, is both a total waste of your time and everyone else’s, given that it’s the sort of claptrap which most reasonable-minded people would not disagree with.

    My point – included again below – is simple and it includes none of the nonsense you’ve raised.

    “If what you’re suggesting (as seems to be the case) is that the composition of the rioters is proportionate to the Afro-Caribbean community’s proportion of the London population (I note you referred to 10% above), then I think you’re sadly wrong. A great many more than one in ten of the rioters were black. That is my contention. As to the backdrop, the whole “equality of aspirations” narrative, and the rest of the jargon, I’ll leave that to others to parse and analyse.”

    I could say more. But I really don’t want to obfuscate the simple observation above.

    And, as an aside, a great many of us here likely also have Jewish, Sikh, and even Zoroastrian acquaintances. A great many of us here may also have life experiences of some pertinence to the discussion (such as your own 42 plus years, council terms etc), but I’m not sure such extraneous details are decisive in the persuasiveness (or indeed even factual accuracy) of commentary, however incidentally interesting it may be.

  • Blogicalcomment

    Interesting take on the situation. I am suspicious about the way in which these riots have spread across the country. Sitting in an office in Manchester right now I can hear police vans screaming down the street – things could kick off tonight.

    I do have some concerns that some of this may not be as organic as we;’re told but that could be my overly suspicious mind.If anyone has any information relating to agent provocateur involvement then please get in touch with me. If it can happen in other countries then it can happen here.

    Stay vigilant! To read my take on the piece then please visit I’d very much appreciate your views.

  • cailleachdearg

    It’s not enough to blithely condemn violence and looting as spontaneous thuggery or ‘ontic’ violence with no social context, every thing has a context, we understand nothing of the riots if we ignore the history and the context out of which they emerge….even if we adopt a daily mail analysis and agree that the rioters are aggressive, prone-to-violence, narcissistic, apathetic hoodies with an exclusive concern for their own immediate gratification, surely the question is how did society manage to create such a generation? Are we are witnessing the first generation of apolitical yet sophisticated consumer-driven looters who are rioting not out of a collective anger but out of a rampant individualism and greed…the peasants are indeed revolting…

  • Its not an Uprising of the Unemployed.
    Its an Uprising of the Completely Unemployable.
    We are told that their EMA has been withdrawn but they dont strike me as people who went to school that often.
    A good “dissertation” subject for student social workers and/or teachers.

  • JR

    You made the same mistake in spelling your name as Lamhdhearg. Cailleach is a feminine word so the dearg that follows should be aspirated.

  • Rory Carr

    “Its an Uprising of the Completely Unemployable.” Fitzjameshorse.

    Is it indeed How do you deduce this?

  • Well Mr Carr you will have to allow for a little poetic licence.
    It is NOT a Rising of the Unemployed……..I dont think “cuts” are an issue,,,,,,and certainly not THE issue.
    But I have a certain amount of sympathy for the view that their (illegal) displays of Greed are no worse than (legal) displays of Greed in the “City” around Spitalfields.
    Unfortunately Society finds City Greed of Bankers etc…..socially acceptable and even worthy and aspirational.

    But I think its fair to say that the looters show few of the portfolio of skills which would get them thru a job interview.
    Unless of course you actually want to employ a couple of them. ;).

  • pippakin

    fjh is right. If you can’t find work in London you are unemployable. Looting is not an expression of need its a blatant expression of greed and hatred.

  • Rory Carr

    “If you can’t find work in London you are unemployable.” – Ptppakin

    From Haringey Independent:

    UNEMPLOYMENT in Haringey has risen by more than a quarter over a four-month period.

    Latest unemployment figures for July 2009 shows there are now 9,451 out of work residents which is a 26 per cent increase since figures published in March.

    The borough is one of four north London boroughs which has an unemployment rate of more than six per cent when measuring those claiming Jobseekers Allowance.

    And it is Tottenham that has been hit hardest where there are now 15 job seekers for any one advertised vacancy.

    Keith Flett, president of Haringey Trades Union Council, said: “We need Government subsidies to employers to stop further job losses and we need a commitment that cuts in public services does not lead to a further rise in unemployment in the area particularly since the Thatcher Government destroyed industry in north east London, the public sector is now the major employer.”

    The shock new figures come as national levels of unemployment is tipped to rise to its highest peak since the second world war.

    Like everywhere else it has been getting worse since.

    Anyway, Oim orf to Zummerzet far zum zider…

  • Reader

    Rory Carr: And it is Tottenham that has been hit hardest where there are now 15 job seekers for any one advertised vacancy.
    Blimey – How many job seekers are there in Tottenham and how many vacancies are there in London? (I have a 1 hour commute, by the way)