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Speaker: Listening to Coldharbour Lane

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  • BenWilson,

    And anyway, I’d always rather play Pollyanna than Cassandra, the latter is so damn smug when things go wrong.

    Nice. Word.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8317 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Green,

    Brilliant. Thank you.

    Waitakere • Since Jul 2008 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I love that this surely must signal the end of Dave as PM.

    Don't you believe it. Margaret Thatcher kept in power for far too long by setting the British up against each other. A mindset that continues today.

    I wonder about the number of looters who will (deservedly) end up in gaol and whether they will out number the bankers and financiers there?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I love the number of people on twitter who are offering to get out tomorrow morning and clean up Brixton and Croydon and Hackney and Liverpool and Birmingham and anywhere that needs it.

    This is so strongly against the media narrative, thanks for telling us.

    I saw a tweet that said "The London riots prove <whateverbandwagon>", and I'm sure there'll be lots of this, but some recalibration around the provision of public services must also follow?

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2215 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Williams,

    This is so strongly against the media narrative, thanks for telling us

    There's a #riotcleanup hashtag going off right now. That will be a cheering sight on a sobering morning.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18712 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    This probably the best piece I have seen so far http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2011/08/panic-on-streets-of-london.html?showComment=1312858926012#c2976450711685191503

    They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

    "Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

    "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

    Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BlairMacca,

    This probably the best piece I have seen so far

    I rather preferred this one, me.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Along with this one I have to say. Unfortunately I can see the BNP really running with this one

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Biobbs,

    I love that Speaker has a guest post from Stella Duffy. Tart Noir forever!

    The River Mouth, Denmark • Since Jan 2011 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Biobbs,

    I love that Speaker has a guest post from Stella Duffy.

    Indeed... thank you. I spent large slabs of time in the 1980s in Coldharbour Lane and it's environs, beginning a year or so after the '81 riots when the scars were everywhere and Railton Rd was still The Front Line.

    It was a shattered environ at the time but it bounced back strongly. It's awful to think it's happening again.

    I hate that the news is reporting “London on fire” – it’s not.

    I sympathise - strongly. #bangkok2010

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Harry Stopes' short, purely descriptive post on the London Review of Books blogsite does it for me -- this is all around my old house, I've walked on every one of those streets. He doesn't say so, but some of this shit's going down about 100 metres from the police station.

    His final paragraph says something about how this was organised on the night:

    Going back a little while later I saw a lot of empty cardboard boxes and packing foam, and a guy walking across the road with a flatscreen TV under his arm. A group of girls, phones out, were discussing what was going to happen next. Croydon? Streatham? ‘No one’s going Streatham,’ one of them said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18712 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise,

    Thanks Stella - nice reality check. I had to stop watching twitter - esp searching for my area - as it was winding me up to much. It ended up there was nothing, and most if not all of the twitter stuff was hoaxes and RTs

    I hate that they’re attacking their own back yards. Young people smashing in and stealing from and closing the shops where they themselves work, eat, shop.

    I hate the consumerism of the rioters. I wish they were chanting slogans, I wish they were carrying placards, I wish there was a clear political point to what they’re doing. I wish they didn’t seem to be so clearly shopping.
I do think that any riot is political, even without a clear political point, but I wish the people taking part in this one were channelling that energy into something constructive.

    Yup, that bit has really got me. It's not about Mark Duggan anymore - outside of Sunday afternoon, it never was. It's about breaking stuff and stealing things. Pure and simple. It'll be interesting to see what the official reaction is, bring both Boris and Cameron are, in theory, "back". (one may be useful, even if he is a dick, the other is more likely to be a hinderance).

    Broken Britain indeed. There is so little consequence for anyone doing anything anti-social here, that something fairly major is going to have to change to make it better.

    this post may have been bought to you by way too little sleep and not enough coffee

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to nic.wise,

    <q>this post may have been bought to you by way too little sleep and not enough coffee

    man, the number of times I could've used that - thank you!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Wurr,

    Nice words Stella, and thank you for posting so soon, and putting some much needed perspective. I live in the Kilburn area, and was a bit worried it might start there, but my girlfriend was a more immediate concern - Deptford high st unfortunately took a bit of a hit, another normal and poor area.

    It's very easy to be emotional about this, and it is frightening, but it's also important when it's possible to gain some rationality away from the media hype. Purely an observation, but it looked to me like it was essentially organised looting, and mostly teenagers and young people - a whole different ball game. It appears on first look to me they were just doing it because they could, not for any cause.

    And the consumerist direction is by far the most disappointing, yet in some ways the most illuminating.

    London • Since Dec 2006 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise, in reply to Islander,

    @Islander: man, the number of times I could’ve used that – thank you

    Feel free to. (CC) :)

    I can’t recommend it tho. Not at all good for the blood pressure

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I don't see that this is going to have an immediate impact on David Cameron. I would think instead that this could bolster him if he strikes the right tenor to the nation. Hard to judge that till we see it though.

    I suspect there will be a huge amount of sympathy to the victims, business owners, workers, emergency services and police and calls by all and sundry for tough measures. The latter of which, the Conservatives have a history of benefiting from.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 880 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6,

    I hate that the rioters are mostly spoken of as young black youths, when the pictures clearly show other races and young women as well. I hate that we have so demonised young black men that they are the first image people seem to conjure when they hear of riots.

    Hmmmm. Well, from where I am in Leyton, it was quite clear that they are mostly black youths. I don't know why that is so difficult to believe. Sure there are some girls out there, older blokes, and a few white and Asian faces, but overwhelmingly, they are young (some VERY young) and black. School holidays at the moment - a bit of light rioting to relieve the holiday boredom? I can see why some of them would be tired of the constant stop and search that goes on round here, not just on black boys, but on any boys who look like they might be at that gangly youth kind of stage. Still don't see why that makes anyone think they can burn down homes and businesses, steal trainers, TV's and any little thing that takes their fancy.

    My friends in Tottenham and Hackney have been terrified - they spent the night wondering how far down the road the rioters would come and trying to get their kids to stay asleep against the noise of the helicopters. My boss from Enfield is on holiday at the moment and glued to the tv wondering what has happened to her community, and what will be waiting when she gets home. My colleagues in Croydon, and Crystal Palace are wondering if there will be more tonight - nothing left to burn or steal seems to be the consensus.

    I'm not sure why it has mostly (so far) passed us by - nothing worth looting maybe? Ramadan is on at the moment, and families are keeping their boys close in the streets near us at least. Maybe it's the long-running dispersal order over our part of Leyton - they were always going to be moved on before anything kicked off. We mostly seem to have through traffic - going between Walthamstow, Tottenham, and Hackney.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 123 posts Report Reply

  • Conrad Heine,

    An excellent post there, summing up my own feelings. Russell’s post is also thorough and accurate, from afar.

    I’ve lived in Peckham for almost two decades now, and strolling along the high street this morning, coathangers crunching under my feet, I’m struck by the teenagers plastering “Why I love Peckham” post-it notes on the boarded-up frontage of the local Poundbusters. Life goes on, but it’s a febrile atmosphere, too quiet as shopkeepers shutter up as early as 2pm, each fearing that those who dare to remain open will be targeted as police are distracted elsewhere. No-one really knows what will happen next.

    Much of what we are seeing is simply thuggish opportunism, born of a culture of violence, with the communities already vulnerable the victims. There are no excuses. It is not mindless. It’s symptomatic of the prizing of personal enrichment over social contract.

    It’s also a product of a long-standing narrative in Britain which has seen elites across the political spectrum look the other way as many of a generation of urban youth, the stereotypical council-estate-dwellers, are excluded. The boom years camouflaged this. Much scorn has been poured on those who reach for the public-service cuts as shorthand for an explanation. But they are only the latest symptom of this state of mind. Like the riots, the speed with which they have affected neighbourhoods such as Peckham has to be seen to be believed.

    Here we have a government which draws its power from demonising those at the bottom. Sadly, this strife provides the perfect excuse for such cynicism, as the political grandstanding already apparent in reaction indicates.

    London/New Zealand • Since Mar 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Carlos Rey, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Are you the Paul Williams who wrote the book about Broadwater Farm and Dolly Kiffin?

    New York • Since Aug 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Conrad Heine,

    Here we have a government which draws its power from demonising those at the bottom.

    and we should all be wary about any resurrection of the "underclass" narrative by Act and the Nats in our own neck of the woods.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16493 posts Report Reply

  • Jean Hughes, in reply to Conrad Heine,

    Though I live in NZ I work with mainly educationally disengaged youth throughout UK and fear (know) several of our kids will be amongst the looters. I suppose I will find out more in a few days when they may log on again. It is thuggish looting and though I don’t at all condone it I can see how rampant consumerism has a lot to answer for. Also our teams in Blackpool, Bolton, West London, Wakefield, Wolves, Salford etc have had their funding stopped or severely reduced. Associated agencies who help with transition from education to work have also been closed down in these areas. All since the current UK government came to power – so it is not only youth clubs etc closed, but also preferred access to education and working initiatives. Would you be angry, what would you care about if it was you? I am not surprised it has moved North and fear it may even be more violent and destructive there.

    Mangere • Since Nov 2006 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jean Hughes,

    Also our teams in Blackpool, Bolton, West London, Wakefield, Wolves, Salford etc have had their funding stopped or severely reduced. Associated agencies who help with transition from education to work have also been closed down in these areas.

    Oh, damn. You know that I know what a lifeline your services are for marginalised kids. That's insane.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18712 posts Report Reply

  • Jean Hughes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That's insane

    yes just as insane as these riots.

    Mangere • Since Nov 2006 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I hate the consumerism of the rioters. I wish they were chanting slogans, I wish they were carrying placards, I wish there was a clear political point to what they’re doing. I wish they didn’t seem to be so clearly shopping.
I do think that any riot is political, even without a clear political point, but I wish the people taking part in this one were channelling that energy into something constructive.

    Consumerism is political. The personal is political. Their placards are the flat-screen Sony TVs, the Carhatt clothes, the iPhone, all of which are pointedly political organisations that engage cheap labour in China, pollute at will, all for $$.

    Shopping is clearly a political act. I do it when I buy All Good bananas, Trade Aid coffee, or Dole bananas and Folgers coffee.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Conrad Heine,

    It’s also a product of a long-standing narrative in Britain which has seen elites across the political spectrum look the other way as many of a generation of urban youth, the stereotypical council-estate-dwellers, are excluded. The boom years camouflaged this.

    I totally agree. The words and attitudes I have been seeing on the net and screen in the past few days are exactly like those I used to see in then-edgy areas like the All Saints Road at the top of Ladbroke Grove in the Thatcher years.

    That sullen despair has hardened into the fuck-you described by the Londoner who posted on the previous thread, dcnbwz, who said:

    There are conditions here that have allowed at least two generations to grow up outside of (another borrowed term I like) "the social contract"....when people ask where are the parents, it might be that they don't care, that they do care but can't stop their kids, or simply that they're part of it too. I don't know. These kids have no empathy. They appear to be nihilistic. And they don't care. Not all I know, but a fair few I would guess. And you have to look at how they have grown into this. A complex answer, not least the conditions some, if not all have to endure. Some will be down to upbringing, a majority down to peer pressure.

    How do you turn this around? And what's next?

    And that scares me for I see the same disenfranchisement hardening in this country too. Meanwhile, nice Mr Key strokes the stainless steel fridges of the voting class, and I'm wondering why an old friend in London is not replying to my emails...

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2578 posts Report Reply

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