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  • Why there’s a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    by Sunny
    9th August, 2011 at 7:56 pm    

    I said this earlier on Twitter so I best justify it quickly:

    I’m going to stick my neck out and predict tonight will see a lot less trouble than yesterday. I think this has peaked.

    Of course there is a good chance people will read this later tonight and laugh. But that is the whole danger with predictions.

    My thinking is this. Whatever ‘alienation’ and ‘dispossession’ these youths feel from society (and why are they mostly men?) - the looting has flared up mostly because there is a widespread perception that the police cannot do much about it, and this is their chance to get some free stuff and have one over the police.

    This has become a socially driven event, where the expectation that they can get away with it drives it further. Without that expectation, it should in theory die quickly.

    I say ‘in theory’ because the other problem is that a lot is dependent on flash-points. Without the spark, a tense situation can easily dissolve into nothing.

    The police talking up their numbers and showing shots of them suiting up in heavy armour should have an impact. So will the raids last night on some of the looters.

    If London is much quieter last night - it will show that the flare up of the London riots (following Tottenham on the first night) was driven more by the sense of weakness with the police (or ‘shorting the law’ as Alison Charlton called it) than by deep rage (though I accept there is low-level rage present regardless).

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    1. sunny hundal

      Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    2. paulstpancras

      Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    3. Watching You

      Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    4. Roland Ellison

      “@sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked” Hope you are right.

    5. juliahobsbawm

      Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    6. Alison Charlton

      Hope he's right. RT @sunny_hundal Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the #Londonriots have already peaked #ukriots

    7. Andrew

      Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    8. Roger Thornhill

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked // who needs 8 TVs?

    9. Dick Puddlecote

      Sunny *nearly* admits that there really isn't any anger behind this - even fesses up to it just being about opportunity

    10. Romola Des Loups

      RT @sunny_hundal: Why there's a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    11. When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? | Liberal Conspiracy

      [...] is partly why the looting collapsed so quickly after the police showed force and the threat of vigilante protection groups suddenly appeared. The [...]

    1. douglas clark — on 9th August, 2011 at 8:28 pm  


      I’d have thought you are right. This is about opportunity not revolution. 0pportunity as in smart trainers or 42″ TVs, not confrontaion with a tooled up police force.

    2. Tim Hall — on 9th August, 2011 at 9:31 pm  

      What’s your take on the looting in Manchester city centre tonight? If the talk on Twitter is to be believed, it seems to be focussing on the stereotypical sportswear and mobile phone shops, which suggests it’s motivated by common criminality rather than any deeper sense of rage.

      Again, I know we shouldn’t believe everything on Twitter, but reports of things being highly organised are worrying.

    3. damon — on 9th August, 2011 at 10:34 pm  

      Yes it could well have peaked in London. I think a lot of these people will have fancied having a go at least once, just for the buzz of it and to have been part of it.
      So it’s in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich tonight, as they hadn’t had a go yet. These post code crews want to have something to brag about in the coming weeks.
      Like Harlesden and and White City haven’t done anything yet - but Croydon can say that they did the business. So that means Croydon is ”well-hard” or something and White City are wimps. I think that’s how the mentality goes.

      The ”Millwall Online” football site says that Millwall supporters (and EDL supporters) have met up to protect Eltham from looters.
      It gave a link to the Casuals United blog, and this photo from it.

    4. Sunny — on 9th August, 2011 at 11:52 pm  

      Nah, its dead now. I predict there will be precautionary police presence tomorrow, and then it’ll taper off.

    5. Don — on 10th August, 2011 at 12:16 am  

      In London, apparently. Seems quite active elswhere. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp - kick off a riot and grab stuff.

    6. Refresh — on 10th August, 2011 at 1:40 am  

      ‘It’s not a difficult concept to grasp – kick off a riot and grab stuff.’

      Am I the only one to think this is a strategy they’ve adopted from those in power. Not least the wars unleashed. I seem to recall there was some grudging respect on the street for Blair over Iraq, for just ‘doin it’.

      Wherever I look, riots, banks, corporate greed, personal greed, unaccountbale power - I see Rupert Murdoch.

      Geller, Fox News, EDL - I see Rupert Murdoch. Norway, Jerusalem Post - Rupert Murdoch.

      Greed is good - Murdoch’s epitaph.

    7. Don — on 10th August, 2011 at 1:51 am  


      Shades of Shock Doctrine?

    8. Refresh — on 10th August, 2011 at 2:23 am  

      ‘Shades of Shock Doctrine?’

      That must be the handbook.

    9. Kulvinder — on 10th August, 2011 at 3:25 am  

      Despite attempts to portray this as being a black/asian/immigrant event (re: telegraph comments) the rioters are not only surprisngly diverse but surprisingly cooperative in their pursuit of loot.

      I obviously accept that the gangs of hoodlums have targeted many vulnerable people but i for one consider it incredibly interesting that racial tension within the vandals appears to be far less significant than would previously have been thought; ie whilst black/white/brown (for lack of a better term) middleclass people/photographers/journalists/police have been targetted or attacked and whilst the looters have fought amongst themselves the gangs they’ve formed are ethnically heterogenous.

      This isn’t to say that ethnic identity has dissapeared for them, but it is interesting - and admist the chaos actually quite heartening - that dem yuth have coalesced into a relatively harmonious (though obviously still degenerate) whole.

      They all ransacked the country together; i have little tear of pride coming down my cheek

      *clicks confirm on amazon order for 34″ aluminium baseball bat*

    10. Kulvinder — on 10th August, 2011 at 3:37 am  

      nb i would also agree that whilst arguments put forward by people like Darcus Howe and Lee Jasper may have had relevance in the past the reality of the present is far far more nuanced.

      Theres is a shared sense of identity emerging which is both more complex and more interesting than the racial/class divisions we’ve seen in the past.

      Despite all the violence its also more hopeful.

    11. Golam Murtaza — on 10th August, 2011 at 7:34 am  

      I wonder what bearing all this will have (if any bearing at all) on the planned EDL demo in Tower Hamlets on August 27.

    12. Golam Murtaza — on 10th August, 2011 at 9:30 am  

      Hmmm….one of the adverts currently flashing up on the right hand side of the Pickled Politics page is urging us to ‘Date a Policewoman’. I know the police need a bit of love right now, but steady on.

    13. jamal — on 10th August, 2011 at 10:54 am  


      The new EDL slogan will now be it’s the moslems and errr blacks and ummm whites that are the problem!!!!

    14. damon — on 10th August, 2011 at 11:53 am  

      Kulvinder @9. That is interesting what you say about multi-cultural groups of looters, and that is true to a point. But you can only go so far with that observation. Yes, you can find people of all races in the looting gangs of London - but only those who adopt the hip hop street style and fit in - talk in the right accent - and are accepted.
      It will be obvious when people are not of that type, and they can just as easily become victims of the gangs. This widely shown vidio clip of a mixed race gang, shows just how callous things can get.

      Those people are of a particular culture, that is popularised to the point where it predominates in inner cities. And it is very different and almost incompatable with ”respectable” society.
      Sikh and Turkish shopkeepers organised (and armed themselves) to keep those people away from their businesses. And perhaps worringly, white football fans grouped up in Enfield and Eltham to keep the looters at bay also.

      If they tried that in Tottenham or Lewisham, there would be fighting between them and sections of the local population. So it shows spheres of influence between where the hoodie street youths (mostly black) hold sway, and where these beer drinking white football blokes hold sway. Which isn’t so positive when you think about it. The looters might have accepted getting chased off by the Turkish guys in Dalston, but if white blokes like those in Eltham had tried to stand up to the looters in Croydon or Hackney, it would have got really nasty and become about race.

    15. Peter Stewert — on 10th August, 2011 at 1:25 pm  

      Though the sex of the rioters is rarely mentioned there are the occasional “shocked” reports of the large numbers of girls involved in the destruction. I can only assume that we’d see more of these girls on news programmes, but since the news focus is dwelling almost pornographically on the looting you end up seeing mostly a load of repellent sausages.

    16. Cauldron — on 10th August, 2011 at 1:45 pm  

      Good call (hopefully) on the riots having peaked.

      And I think you’re right about the expectation of getting away with it being critical. But ‘getting away with it’ implies a lack of concern about being punished as well as a lack of concern about getting caught. You can address the latter with greater policing, but addressing the former needs a more robust sentencing policy. Getting nicked isn’t really a deterrent if all you’ll get is a slap on the wrists.

    17. fugstar — on 10th August, 2011 at 4:10 pm  

      Sunny, no need to stick your neck out.

      Each locality has its own racial riot-resistance dynamic.

      Hero Sikh brother from Sangam TV the only camera man to cover the Birmingham hit and run story (3 killed).

      socalled social medias balls just dropped.

    18. damon — on 10th August, 2011 at 9:30 pm  

      I was kind of expecting some huge analysis on these riots like happens on PP about the BNP and the EDL so often.
      Jai could do some series of posts with a dozen links, building up some theory or other I’d have thought.

      Or maybe it’s just a bit too complicated. And it is.
      There are certainly reasons of poverty and our modern capitalist society behind it. Where workers come in from Poland, to do jobs that kids from Tottenham and Peckham aren’t doing. I was reading about this book called ”The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better” - and it’s so clear that we live in a very unequal, rather rotten society.

      There are some attempts at decent analysis by Camila Batmanghelidjh and Zoe Williams in the Independent yesterday and the Guardian today.
      But there other sides to this too, that some of these same liberal people don’t dwell on too much.
      The youths of Tottenham who started off the rioting and who are said to be from serially deprived backgrounds, have also to a degree - ”self ghettoised” in my opinion. Or their parents did 25 years ago.
      Mark Duggan was from Broadwater Farm and wasn’t even born 30 years ago when there was mass rioting then. He has four children growing up there, so the culture of poverty and the ghetto is passed on. You can’t just blame that on the police and social services.
      The young unemployed men have turned their noses up at crap jobs such as entry-level positions in the West End hotels for example.
      Even though, starting out as a young guy in a big international hotel chain actually has lots of career opportunities. And while these lads are kicking about unemployed and feeling all oppressed, their sisters and mothers are often holding down jobs.

      Then you can be a bit more ‘crude’ in your ananysis, and talk about the divisions in culture at a street level.
      In London, the looters and rioters came in all colours, but were predominately black - or at least follow the Hip Hop street culture that has it’s very own vernacular. So, I’d hazzard a guess that the white scum bag who robbed the bleeding Malaysian student in Barking, talked like Ali G, not a ”cor blimey guvenor” cockney.

      On a football site I read, many of the guys there talk of those hoodie street youths from places like Lewisham as ”Rude Boys”. Which is perhaps controversial and has hints of racism about it.
      But I’m sure the Sikh and Turkish business owners who have defended their shops also have some terms for the kind of people who they were standing up against.

      For a site that loves to talk about the EDL so much, I haven’t heard that much of this cultural divide. You have ”Rude Boys” in inner London, and white ”EDL types” in places like Eltham, Enfield and Barking and Dagenham. A common thing I hear from these football supporter like people is that they don’t like the ”rude boy” culture.
      That in itself would be an interesting discussion.

      When I see the scenes of looting in Birmingham, I’m reminded how hostile a reception two dozen EDL guys got when they were drinking in a pub in the city centre.

      It’s a pity the looters couldn’t have been chased out too. But who would actually have done it? Not the guys chasing the EDL I think.

    19. Kulvinder — on 11th August, 2011 at 3:28 pm  

      but only those who adopt the hip hop street style and fit in – talk in the right accent – and are accepted.

      Whilst i don’t disagree (apart from the ‘hip hop’ reference which is a little dated); every ‘grouping’ or ‘population’ of people that associate together tend to share a similar dialect, slang or mannerisms.

      I also accept that the landscape across Britain is complicated and the picture of where we’re going is incomplete but there is enough evidence to show that on the whole the simplistic dogmatic politics of class and race that was seen in the past is wholly inadequate.

      Whilst once the right wing press might have been able (perhaps justifiably) to paint - in broad brushes - accusations of ‘minorities targeting whites’ or of a problem that was based largely around matters of race and ethnicity they now have to accept such simplistic arguments are wholly archaic. Similarly id also say the types of arguments put forward by ‘community leaders’ or spokesman in the past that this was an issue based solely on race are equally outdated.

      In the midst of vast social unrest which saw the police forces in major cities across England stretched to such a point that there was a de-facto absence of any state control we saw remarkably little racial antagonism between the rioters and vandals.

      As reprehensible as their actions were it is, in my opinion, very significant that they associated amongst themselves in complex layers which on the whole did not view skin colour or ethnicity as an over-riding issue of antagonism.

      I’m unsure whether such a situation would have existed in say the US or continental Europe.

      All issues of condemnation aside the riots provided truly fascinating empirical evidence of underlying social connections and tensions that come into play when civil order completely breaks down - and the one things that was clear was that on the whole these were not race riots.

    20. damon — on 11th August, 2011 at 5:12 pm  

      Kind of Kulvinder. This guy who reported from Clapham Junction for Sky could easily have been beaten up.
      He doesn’t fit in, he’s too square and doesn’t talk right.

      The woman who jumped from the burning building in Croydon is from Poland and worked in Poundland.

      Many of those looters couldn’t hold down a job in poundland.
      I’m from Croydon, and walking up London Road at night has always been dodgy, as these looters live around there. See from 55 seconds into this film.

      I really wouldn’t want to walk past the local Thornton Heath ‘posse’ when they were out on monday. They rob blokes like me for fun.

      And they’re just kids. Some of the older ones are even worse.

    21. Refresh — on 11th August, 2011 at 5:33 pm  

      Letter in the Independent:

      “Wrecking communities, trashing businesses, making people homeless, walking off with loads of loot – who gave these lads permission to behave like bankers?

      Tony Cheney, Ipswich, Suffolk”

    22. Don — on 11th August, 2011 at 6:52 pm  


      An interesing observation, but I think you may be giving it more weight than it can carry.

      While it seems to be the case (based only on media presentations of the events) that the looters showed little racial antagonism between themselves (they were focused on looting and any antagonism was aimed at non-looters) it does also seem to be the case that asians were disproportionately victimised. OK, it may be true that a high proportion of small businesses in the affected areas are asian run, but why were small businesses such as hairdressers and dressmakers targeted? There was no cash or high value goods to be had. Just trashing years of hard work. Really, why were they targeted? Resentment at those who responded to difficulty by working rather than whining?

      I’m not getting any sort of optimistic message from the looters, but I am from those communities who have come together to preserve what they have built up.

    23. Kulvinder — on 11th August, 2011 at 11:58 pm  

      it does also seem to be the case that asians were disproportionately victimised

      I’ve seen no evidence of this; there may have been more asian owned businesses in some areas than others but i haven’t seen any widespread claims of targeting them - correlation does not imply causation they just happened to be owned by asians.

      I’m not sure which dressmakers you’re referring to but most custom made dresses are worth ££££; hairdressers are always looted - mainly for the weave, extensions, and wigs but also for the hair care products which really are worth ££££ (you’re showing a lack of knowledge of contemporary female grooming ;-p )

      Regarding communities working together this was heartening; but im weary of community empowerment leading to vigilantism in the future.

    24. douglas clark — on 12th August, 2011 at 12:44 am  

      Kulvinder @ 23,

      I feel pretty well alienated from all of this but these deaths were Asian, were they not?

      Are these folk not the true victims of this insanity?

      A few 42″ TV’s do not equate to peoples lives.

      Just saying…

    25. Refresh — on 12th August, 2011 at 1:29 am  

      This from an exceptional article:

      ‘The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretches right up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police and large parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needs a moral reformation.’

      I only differ on this one point, that it is the feral elite which has damaged us and our youth.

      ‘The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom’

      Peter Oborne

    26. Kulvinder — on 12th August, 2011 at 2:23 am  

      I feel pretty well alienated from all of this but these deaths were Asian, were they not?

      yes but those problems were essentially local ones focused on birmingham; given the scale of the disturbances across england and the fact there was a complete breakdown of law and order the number of deaths was tiny.

    27. Don — on 12th August, 2011 at 10:40 am  

      (you’re showing a lack of knowledge of contemporary female grooming ;-p )


    28. Refresh — on 12th August, 2011 at 10:50 am  

      Thankfully there is now decent analysis filtering through and watching Question Time last night you could see the angry in the audience pacifying themselves through their own questions and contributions.

      The realisation is dawning that these rioters and looters are no less than our own citizens moulded and shaped by corrupt institutions; whose needs and desires and aspirations are being determined by the market, which has decisively replaced the 4th Estate.

      I am totally opposed to the idea of bringing the perpetrators to book through courts run like the depression-era dance competitions seen in ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They’. For political expediency.

      It ill-suits Cameron to talk morality, as much as it did Tony Blair. When it is exactly these failings that brought them to the highest office in the land.

    29. damon — on 12th August, 2011 at 10:52 am  

      The street politics of Lee Jasper have to be looked at in my opinion.

      He’s making some huge claims about deaths in police custody, and that kind of black political action has been around for thirty yeras now. It sucks I think.
      But to examine how and why is very complex.
      I don’t think it can be discussed in any detail on PP as too many of the people who comment on here now aren’t up to it. But the ”No Justice - No peace” campaigning is there to see. It’s what started off the rioting in Tottenham.

    30. jamal — on 12th August, 2011 at 5:55 pm  

      refresh at 21

      it’s so true, the looters and the bankers what’s the difference they both looted and wrecked the country.

      if only the bankers where hunted down by the authorities for their greed and recklessness of the economy, but we all know that will never happen!

    31. Lamia — on 14th August, 2011 at 8:42 pm  

      “‘The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom’

      Peter Oborne”

      Quite. And Peter Oborne is part of that moral decay, being a privileged member of probably the most closed shop and nepotistic profession in society. He’s a hypocrite, as are all the other upper-middle class journalists who have fulminated about inequality of opportunity but who are sitting pretty in a career where it’s whose nephew or niece or son or daughter you are that counts.

      Still, if Jody Mcintyre is anything to go by, the ranks of the NUJ may part briefly to allow in a few of the rioters to their august number. Hurrah! Champers at Polly Toynbee’s.

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