I Heart Manchester, Salford, London

I see the bad moon arising

I see trouble on the way

I see earthquakes and lightning

I see bad times today

– Creedence Clearwater Revival

‘Bad Moon Rising’

I saw nothing of the riots and suffered no harm, except anxiety for the friends and family I have in London and Manchester. So there is little point in me writing about the events of the last few days. We don’t know the circumstances of the Duggan shooting. The police won’t tell us. But we know exactly why the riots happened, and exactly how to stop them happening.

The riots happened because of Tory cuts, the abolition of EMA, Iraq, the death of the nuclear family, consumer advertising, racist feds, absent fathers, the last Labour government, wealth inequality, rap music, political correctness, immigration, multiculturalism and Tony Blair.

To prevent more riots, all we have to do is overthrow capitalism, tax the rich, bring back the married couple’s allowance, send in the army, open more youth clubs, set up more CCTV, take down all CCTV, take rioters’ benefits, kick rioters out of social housing, bring back capital punishment, bring back National Service, arm the police with water cannon and baton rounds, close down the Blackberry messaging network, ban Twitter, Facebook, email, SMS, mobile phone lines, CB radio, carrier pigeon, morse, clacks and semaphore.

I’m exaggerating for comic effect, but only a little. The above list of ‘root causes’ and ‘solutions’ are taken from things I’ve heard on social networks, in op-eds, even in Parliament.

The biggest misconception to me is that the riots are a youth thing. It suits the left to say that because they can get a vicarious thrill of Da Yout risin up, a source of fire that they can channel into ideology; it suits the right because they can piss and moan and wail about Broken Britain.

Up here in Manchester, though, the age range of GMP arrests was 15-58. Out of 113 arrests only seven were under eighteen.

It would be interesting to see a pie chart of profession and income. Parading through London and Manchester’s 24-hour courts are a hairdresser, an army recruit, a charity worker, a teaching assistant, a forklift driver, a call centre agent, a scaffolder, a lifeguard, and the grammar school daughter of a millionaire.

So far, there has been little or no political content. The politics, if they exist, are libertarian/Thatcherite: smash a window, and take what you see. Manchester’s high street took a kicking, but so did independents in the Northern Quarter. In London the rioters went for family-owned independents and charity shops. Up here there has even been a suggestion that the far right were involved. If what happened was an uprising, why not firebomb the square mile?

As Egyptian revolutionary Mosa’ab Elshamy put it: ‘Egyptians and Tunisians took revenge for Khaled Said and Bouzazi by peacefully toppling their murdering regimes, not stealing DVD players.’

A couple more thoughts.

Remember the student protests, how thuggish and anarchic everyone said they were? Take note of the difference between a demonstration and a crimewave.

Also, can we have an end or at least a break to the constant moaning and shrieking about immigrants? It appears that the only citizens willing to stand up to looters and rioters were from immigrant/ethnic minority communities – Dalston Turks, Southall Sikhs, Haringey Kurds, Birmingham Pakistanis, Poles, Somalis and Bengalis in Whitechapel. Their bravery should be recognised. We should remember it before we lock up or deport people for the political crime of wanting to work here and make a life here.

I know I bang on about this, but it seemed an important point when I saw BBC footage of a rioter being interviewed in Salford, outside the trashed and charred precinct where I used to buy books and groceries. Why did you riot? ‘Gotta,’ he said. ‘All the Poles, coming over here, taking our jobs’ – yes the guy actually said that, rapped out that fucking cliché. And before you accuse me of looking down on the dispossessed white working class, remember that the working class were, overwhelmingly, the victims of this criminality and this carnage in terms of homes, livelihoods and lives.

Having said all this, context matters. In a crisis economy and under a radical rightwing government this was a bad story waiting to happen. The line has been crossed. It will be crossed again.

I hear the voice of rage and ruin. There is a bad moon on the rise.


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