Agreement of People website

Sign here if you support the campaign for a real democracy

Our blogs


AWTW FacebookAWTW Twitter

Your Say



The story of a riot foretold

Riots across London are a result of rising anger against the corrupt and repressive Metropolitan Police, and against the poverty and unemployment hitting the poorest first.

The police version of the shooting of Mark Duggan after the Met's CO19 firearms squad killed him is falling apart. They claimed an officer was shot, but was saved by his radio – and then Duggan was shot in self-defence. Now it appears the bullet in the radio may have been police issue.

Duggan’s family was only allowed to see his body 36 hours after he was killed. When they and about 100 supporters stood peacefully outside Tottenham police for four hours on Saturday night waiting for answers, nobody was prepared to talk to them. Police instead formed a confrontational line across the front of the police station.

As the protests escalated across Tottenham, it appears that a 16-year-old girl was beaten when she advanced towards a line of police to remonstrate with them, saying all the community wanted was answers. An extreme sense of injustice rapidly built up, leading to two nights of rioting across London and opportunist looting as well. This fury on the streets shows that the issues behind Britain’s 1985 inner-city riots have never been resolved. The regeneration of estates like Broadwater Farm and other deprived areas is being reversed by the economic crisis.

The Coalition’s slash and burn budget cuts are affecting the poorest boroughs. The London Borough of Haringey slashed its budget for youth services by 75% after the Coalition cut its grant by £41million. Labour Councillors who voted for this must share the blame for the riots.

Eight out of 13 youth clubs in Tottenham – safe havens for youth trying to avoid “post-code wars” and crime – have been closed. Local youth at the end of July warned in a filmed interview that there would be riots. There are currently more than 50 people for each unfilled job in Haringey, and the number claiming jobseekers allowance has risen 10% this year. There are plans to cut as much as 25% from the budget for courses for 16 to 18 year olds at North East London College, with a big campus in Tottenham.

And Tottenham is not an exception. A sense of extreme alienation amongst tens if not hundreds of thousands of youths in London and around the country is simmering and will continue to erupt in explosive ways. Added to the sense of injustice is a lack of trust in the police and the political system as a whole.

Back in 1985 local MP Bernie Grant took the side of the community, when riots broke out after the death of Cynthia Jarrett. Yesterday, slick New Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, condemned the violence and looting and commiserated with injured police. He said nothing about the killing of one of his constituents.

The same political, police and media establishment that colluded to hide the crimes of the News of the World, is coming together to attack the youth. Small wonder that big swathes of the community feel unconnected from any political process.

Now the right-wing media are calling for strong leadership and a strong arm to put an end to the disorder on the streets and in the financial markets. It seems the Coalition is not brutal enough for them.

These are important warning signs. A bold approach to re-shaping society is urgently needed that will unite the youth and communities across the generations to challenge this rule while it is still possible to do so. Democratising the economic and political basis of society through the formation of local People’s Assemblies, which will self-police communities, offers a positive way forward.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
8 August 2011

Bookmark and Share

Your Say

Patricia Dodd Racher says:

The perverse impacts of globalisation include the rise of a class of super-rich whose primary and reinforcing aims are power and money. I echo Ian.

Breakdown: London looters and the death of community
August 8, 2011 · Filed under Politics, Economics · Tagged United Kingdom government, Democracy, Inequality, Riots, London, Looting

Unequal societies are either violently repressed or violently anarchic, before they descend into factional wars. It is nowhere near enough for the ‘authorities’ to claim that the arson and looting breaking out across London this week are merely criminality. Of course it’s criminal, but why is it so widespread? I can scarcely believe the TV pictures of burning buildings, today from Hackney in the north to Croydon in the south. The arsonists seem mainly teenagers, children even. They are breaking up society, reflecting a real breakdown that has been papered over with welfare and consumer goods. Cut the welfare, as the government is doing in its quest to reduce our national indebtedness (bankruptcy), and the paper tears.

Who buys property in London? The foreign super-rich. Well they did: the sight of flames replicating bomb attacks may make London less desirable as a ‘safe haven’ from the world’s many, many danger zones. Dangerous societies are unjust, ungovernable, ruled by the power of arms. Have we realised just how unjust and undemocratic we are becoming in our safe haven UK? The extent to which the illusion of democracy has replaced real democracy? People have a vote, but that vote means scarcely anything, and political parties make promises that they break so easily if they attain power. Look at the Liberal Democrats and their abandonment of their promise to oppose higher tuition fees for students. Once they were in government with the Conservatives, they accepted a three-fold increase as ‘necessary’. Who would trust a politician now? It’s all been about expediency. Is it any wonder, then, that children’s concepts of right and wrong are blurred when the whole ethos of our economic life – which has come to mean life, full stop — is to make as much money as possible? Company chiefs award themselves vast salaries, vast pensions, extravagant lifestyles, as rewards for ‘efficiency’ which usually means cutting other people’s jobs. When their global enterprises become insolvent, they call on governments to aid them, and governments raise the cash from you and me, the ordinary taxpayers. International capitalists like Rupert Murdoch have prime ministers virtually performing circus tricks to gain their approval,and Murdoch’s media appear to have important police officers in their cash-stuffed pockets. This is not the example to set our children, who have been landed with the repayments for our casually accrued mega-debts.

It is time to reduce the extremes of wealth and poverty. If chancellor George Osborne goes ahead and removes the top rate of income tax, as is rumoured, it will reinforce my perception that this is becoming an obscenely unequal state, without a strong sense of community and without values other than grab-what-you-can.

The anarchy in London is a warning. We are all going to become poorer, as the resources on our scarred Earth become scarce. At present we do not have the shared sense of purpose that we will need if we are to make the transition without terrible violence.

Iftikhar Ahmad says:

A small black child carried a sign during the L.A. riots and it read, "No Justice No Peace".

The child's sign holds true in gaza, L.A. and the world. No justice triggers revolutions.

My belief, justice will come sooner or later. And, late justice comes with a high price.

London's rioters are the products of a crumbling nation, and an indifferent political class that has turned its back on them. The meaninglessness of the riots speak of problems with deeper roots than just material need: an underlying lostness in our culture around issues of identity and relationships. Alienated young men and women, some of them barely more than children, have taken this as an opportunity to steal, riot, burn and to generally kick against authority.

British Muslims, estimated at nearly two million, have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police and discrimination by the British Establishment and society for no apparent reason other than being Muslim. Just a few days ago Norway suffered the wrath of a right-wing extremist. We have been told that this was ‘unexpected".

Whether it is a group of people blowing up the twin towers in NY, a group bombing the London underground, an individual murdering children in Norway, or rioters and looters in London; these and other groups have a single objective in mind, to protest – not lawfully, but through any means possible, irrespective of the consequences of their actions, be it the loss of life or the destruction of property. The problem is, every time society suffers in this way, it is so much easier to blame someone else than to reflect on whether we were part of the problem in the first place; e.g. spending billions on wars which many of us did not believe we needed in the first place all the while basic services are being cut.

Dylan (of the underclass) says:
Patricia is right. Society in England is totally breaking up. When I work in Europe, for example in Austria or now in N. Italy its obvious there's a community & a togetherness that has long gone in our country.
Much of this is due to following US style capitalism as far down the road as we can. What a cul-de-sac its made for us. We are yelling & screaming to get out - as the recent riots have shown, but we can't get out, as not enough are yelling & fighting back. Yet

Fiona says:

So far it has been confined to England, I wonder when, or if, the protesting/rioting/looting is going to spread to Scotland and Wales? I expect people in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil the town incidentally with the most unemployment in Britain, are watching with interest! Maybe when or if they get going they may have developed different strategies, even as the problems they face are very similar to those faced in England. Merthyr Tydfil has given us the heartening picture of young people marching, Jarrow like, in order to highlight their plight and make their demands. Only a few lines, didn't make the news really. Rioting certainly would have but like simply marching would not have solved their problems either. We shall see. Interesting times as they say! Except for the tragedies in Birmingham to add to the death at the hands of the police in London which sparked it all - more than merely interesting for the friends and families. Condolences to those affected.

David Payne says:

At last THE BLOODY RIOTS - If only …

Whether it be Students or Streeties, as always it's only "Young Blood" doesn't feel it has so much to lose, it won't take a chance on the little it has. So, 'Oppositional' is probably as good as it gets, 'Insurrection' the grown-ups version, is just too brave for The British.

Watch and weep for there are two things you can be sure of –

1. The voice of Establishment (and it has the reach of a blue whale through the murky waters of modern life in which we all bathe in the fathomless propaganda of financial privilege and concomitant power), will use its vast intellectual resources to the end of keeping the majority public bemused, fast-fingering the stacked deck of economic life with dizzying slights to keep our attention from the fundamental causality that gives rise to the present symptomatic, social-lashback.

2. That voice will be silent on the matter of the relentless, rapacious and rampant inequality, a resident malaise of which the present violent outbreak like herpes, is an evidential sore under the condescending nose of wealth, which has at best indifference and worst contempt, for the majority poor and their pitiful claim to a proper share.

My immediate reaction is not a recoil at this petty if hazardous pilfering, a spit at the face of injustice, but despair that the public at large has not blockaded government by any of the means at its disposal, for this populace, made impotent by a history of class / financial oppression, supinely positions itself for whatever punishment Authority deems appropriate and My God, what a barbarian, financial thrashing we are taking in order to protect established wealth.

This disgusting condition is now truly global, $43 trillion (at least) rotting in private coffers so as to satisfy the egos of a stupefied few while images of famine which could have been simply lifted from archives of the 50s (to the extent of my personal recollection alone), play on our television screens like real News. Never mind Government contributions or charitable donations from the majority public who give spontaneously from the small change that is their incomes (no need for the emotional blackmail inflicted on them by gangs of charities), a single, paltry £1 in £1000 of this present fund which is growing at a fabulous rate and almost all of which will never be utilised in any way, would cover the entire cost of relief for all of North Africa.

Nothing has changed in my lifetime. It has been said you can take the man out of the jungle but you can’t take the jungle out of the man. His primaeval instruction says “dominate” and has found through great guile, its system of ultimate control in the international monetary system, running on the illicit steroids of global trade for which the antidote of civilisation is a pale remedy and used as dress to lend sartorial credence - but a thug in a suit is still a thug. Greed is God, money means power, power corrupts and the circle is closed.

As patriotism is refuge to the scoundrel, see the self-righteous seek a scapegoat. At the first hint of ruckus, take a look at who is pointing the finger and never forget,


Michael says:

The Arab Spring , the greek debacle, the Israeli protests and the Thai red Shirts are expressed in the oldest capitalist nation in the freshest way, elementally as Corinna says, there is a great responsibility of all of us to train the spearhead and the engine of the coming revolution. To see Theresa May condemn the whole episode as criminality reminds me of the hilarious cartoons of Hobbes and the petit bourgeoise fear and hatred of "The Mob". I cannot condone the looting but I would suggest that the constant pressure to buy the latest Apple toy or Nike boots may be responsible, especially when those who have had it dangled in their face for so long without the wherewithal to buy them, decide that they have the power to take it. Its not a big leap when you know the police and politicians have been helping themselves for so long.

Ian says:

In Essence these problems of Social Injustice and Deprivation have been on - going since the 60's , 70's , 80's and right up to present day. The Working Class and the Poorest Sections of Society have a Growing Disrespect for Authority, they see their MP's Fiddling Expenses and Telling lies , Police taking Back-handers and selling information to the press, Bankers Looting Pension Funds and insider Trading. Capitalism is to Blame for this Decayed System ! the gap between the Rich and the Poor is becoming Wider and Wider and People want Jobs and a Future not to be Compressed into overcrowded sub - urban Council Estates . " MOST of all they WANT ANSWERS ! as to WHY this So Called DEMOCRACY has FAILED THEM . .

Comments now closed

We do not store your name or email details, but may inform you if someone responds to your comment.

If you want weekly update messages please indicate and we will store your details in a secure database which is not shared with any other organisation.

Your name

Your E-mail
(we will not publish your E-mail)

Do you want Updates?

Anti-spam validation:compare< Please enter these letters>