Thatcher and Blair Caused the Riots 86


There is a shameless article by Blair in the Observer in which he says the riots were the fault of a very specific group of families, not of society in general. Society in general is jolly good, thanks to one T Blair. In fact, what could possibly be wrong with a society in which Blair has amassed £28 million to date? I love the bit where he says:

I agree totally with the criticisms of excess in pay and bonuses.

This from the man who gets payoffs from corporate America in $100,000 fees for a one hour lecture, then charges corporate executives $400 a pop to be photographed shaking hands with him. Blair agrees so much with criticism of excess pay and bonuses that he did absolutely nothing about it in three terms of office, and presided over the widest ever and still widening gap between rich and poor in this country.

I agree with Blair that we should not excuse individual responsibility for looting and should acknowledge exactly how undesirable and anti-social is the milieu of the rioters, and seek to eliminate that sub-culture. But we have also to understand what generated it, and eliminate those causes.

What caused it was not just poverty. There are plenty of decent poor people. A factor is indeed the deliberate destruction of UK manufacturing capacity on ideological grounds by Thatcher, an ideology carried through by Blair. But it was still more directly the deliberate destruction of social capital by Thatcherism and Blairism, its antipathy to any manifestation or instrument of horizontal social solidarity, and its manifest anti-intellectualism.

Through Thatcher and Blair, education, knowledge and intellectual analysis became valued only if they tended to economic productivity, not as goods in themselves. This attitude still permeates every ministerial statement on education.

The all-pervasive idea that economic productivity was the only good and material consumption the only purpose, relentlessly promoted in media and advertising, left no place for those who could not find a job to produce or funds to consume.

But what these alienated classes could pick up in full from Thatcherism and Blairism was the anti-intellectualism and the desire to consume. Thatcherism and Blairism inevitably produced an entire callous, desocialised and proto-criminal class. It was their inevitable consequence.

These are Thatcher’s and Blair’s riots.

A week ago I published this start on the process of designing a remedy to the social ills that Thatcherism and Blairism have brought:

There is an excellent article by Simon Hughes on response to the looting. He has in many ways the same position as me in seeking radical solutions to the malaise of our hugely unequal society, while in no way sympathising with criminal looters.

The direction of all of Hughes’ proposals is correct, but his proposed action does not go far enough and is not specific enough. In both public and private organisations, the earnings differential between the highest and lowest paid should be limited by law to a factor of four, including the effect of all non-salary perks and benefits. Hughes does not give specifics on his desire to limit this gap, but Will Hutton has been promoting a factor of ten in the public sector – that is far too wide an equality gap.

Similarly Hughes’ pious wish to promote worker partnership and cooperatives needs to be given concrete form by legislation forcing all companies to give truly significant – I am thinking around forty per cent – shareholdings to employees.

If Simon really wants to roll back the excesses of the last thirty years, then natural monopolies like the utilities companies and the railways need to be returned fully to public ownership. PFI should be discontinued and all PFI assets nationalised without compensation.

Housing Association properties should be taken over by local authorities as traditional council housing, and massive new public funded mixed home building programmes should be begun that include the demolition of the ghastly huge sink estates of sub-standard housing. That would help boost the economy out of recession.

Hughes’ diagnosis is correct. But the reversal of the incredible and dangerous expansion of the gulf between rich and poor requires truly radical use of the power of the state with measures along the lines of those above. Anything else is just tinkering.

There is of course much else, of which limiting banking transactions to the actual funding of purchase of property, goods and services, rather than gambling on future values of those things, is perhaps the most important.

But we must repudiate Blair’s assertion that there is little wrong with our society. One very good start would be to send Blair for war crimes trial at The Hague, to demonstrate to all that crime does not pay.


86 thoughts on “Thatcher and Blair Caused the Riots

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  • mary

    ‘But we must repudiate Blair’s assertion that there is little wrong with our society. One very good start would be to send Blair for war crimes trial at The Hague, to demonstrate to all that crime does not pay.’
    .
    Right on. Our day will come.

  • Pat

    “One very good start would be to send Blair for war crimes trial at The Hague” If that happened we really would live in a reformed society. Oh that I could live to see the day!

  • Azra

    Very good Article.

    Justice could have been done. Blair should have been taken cuffed and left in midst of rioters,(and Thatcher in her wheelchair). They would have been torn apart limb by limb. On the other hand, that would have been too light a sentence for them.

  • Charles Crawford

    “Thatcherism and Blairism inevitably produced an entire callous, desocialised and proto-criminal class”.

    Really? That assertion of causality does not seem to be compatible with the experience of, say, Poland where for the past twenty years a FAR greater policy emphasis on free markets, hard work and improved productivity than we have seen here has not had anything like the same outcome.

    There have always been plenty of jobs in big cities for young people. Go into a coffee bar in central London and see where the staff come from. You might (but don’t) mention the fact that Labour allowed hundreds of thousands of poorer Europeans to enter the UK and take many of these less well-paid jobs.

    These motivated people have tended to use that opportunity as a base for their own future prosperity by working hard, often living in ghastly cramped conditions to do so. What is happening to motivate Poles to travel from Katowice to work in Fleet Street, while some young people from Tottenham can’t be bothered to do the same?

    It’s reasonable to take as a working assumption that if you are not prepared to invest in improving yourself and then work to maintain yourself, you’ll end up poor and probably stupid. Education should prepare young people for that reality.

    Alas our socialised education system (far more pampered and wealthier than most such systems in human history) has failed far too many children in too many respects, especially in some inner cities. That’s the nub of the issue, not your Dave Spartist burblings about the “deliberate destruction of social capital by Thatcherism and Blairism”.

    Finally, let’s not forget that the number of people involved in the riots was sizeable but still microscopically small by absolute standards. So most of the so-called under-class sensibly stayed at home, reading a good book.

    Your specific policy proposals (salaries, shares, demolish bad old public sink estates and build shiny new public sink estates!) are ridiculous, oppressive and illiberal. We need to motivate and reward the most talented people we have (and attract more of them to come here), not drive them to emigrate in despair.

  • mike cobley

    “If Simon really wants to roll back the excesses of the last thirty years, then natural monopolies like the utilities companies and the railways need to be returned fully to public ownership. PFI should be discontinued and all PFI assets nationalised without compensation.”

    Absolutely hit the nail on the head, Craig. PFI is nothing but hire purchase, with the ‘buyer’ hoodwinked into paying off huge amounts of cash over 3 decades to whoever owns the transferrable contract (ie license to pillage the treasury).

  • Jonah Green

    @ Craig

    “I agree with Blair that we should not excuse individual responsibility for looting and should acknowledge exactly how undesirable and anti-social is the milieu of the rioters, and seek to eliminate that sub-culture. But we have also to understand what generated it, and eliminate those causes.”

    Yes, and you have been scurrying away from such identification for the last week. In fact you personally called me names because you couldn’t bring yourself to admit that there were wider social issues responsible for the outbreak of the London riots. I believe the term is ‘having one’s cake and eating it.” The hypocrisy is mind-blowing.

  • Abdallah Seymour

    “He has in many ways the same position as me in seeking radical solutions to the malaise of our hugely unequal society”.
    In order to fulfill this one needs to eliminate the element which has caused the sickness: usury.

  • craig Post author

    Jonah,

    That is not true. My post I quote from at length in the above, on necessary economic measures, was published before our comments argument – you just chose to ignore it.

    What I was arguing against was an approach so determinist it refuses to condemn violent indivuiduals and their odious sub-culture.

  • Richard

    You are absolutely dead right Craig. You leave out one mental shortcut which Thatcher, Blair, and indeed Cameron use, which has led to so many of these problems: “if the Americans do it, it must be the thing to do.” And America has a much wider gap between rich and poor, the poor getting not only relatively but absolutely poorer. And it works. Well it works in as much as ordinary American put up with it and British politicians still admire America; so there you are! And a, perhaps The, main reason Americans put up with this injustice is they are so ignorant. They still think they are better off than people in the rest of the world. Because they are fed outright lies by the dishonest far-right media. Who would that be…

  • gyges

    It’s not only Blair/Thatcher but a whole class of people.

    Where exactly did the money come from when property prices increased massively? This was, at best, a zero sum game: if you gained, who lost? Did you really work for the money you got from the increase in value of your home?

    The list goes on and on. Why doesn’t your tenant get any equity for the money he’s paying you every month? Are you in denial that you’re getting something for nothing? Or is it acceptable to you to take money and give nothing in return?

    Is it moral to borrow money in the expectation that inflation will erode its value such that you pay back a lot less than what you originally borrowed? Again, where are you getting the subsidy? Who’s pocket are you getting the State to pick, via mechanisms of fiat currency and inflation, on your behalf?

    Just because the State makes it legal (remember the Nazi informer cases?), does that mean it’s moral?

  • Jack

    I’m not excusing Thatcher and Blair – in my book they’re among the worst criminals on this planet. But they succeeded (in their own terms) because they offered the electorate what the electorate wanted – promises and quick fixes. That the promises were lies and the fixes were fraudulent were not facts awaiting hindsight – we all knew it at the time, but too many people simply didn’t give a damn. That’s still the situation in the UK today.

    I’m personally – and sadly – acquainted with quite a lot of people who think Thatcher was the best Prime Minister this country has ever seen, and Blair a close second – you have to break eggs to make an omelette, they insist. Those same people would vote for Adolf Hitler if they were promised 10p off income tax or free Sky TV.

    There is, and was never, anything wrong with Thatcher and Blair that isn’t a sad reflection of those who supported them – and that was a shameful proportion of the population. Neither arrived in power nor kept that power by force of arms. They divided and ruled – their successors are still dividing and ruling. The population has fallen for such tactics for centuries, and I see not the slightest sign much will ever change.

  • Azra

    Mary, I can see why people bury their heads in the sand and do not take any interest what is happening around the world and the news. It is just so so depressing. So they want to extend their stay to 2024, I wonder when Oil/Gas pipeline becomes operational? what will happen after that? Will they then make an agreement with Taliban??

  • gyges

    @Carlyle Houlton said, “Good article Craig, but what are “PFI” assests?”

    They’re the modern equivalent of MEFO bills.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I’m not going to engage with Charles’s economic arguments right now, since I’m in a bit of a hurry – sorry. An interesting observation I would make is this: Whenever positive attributes of immigrants are to be deployed in argumentation, generally we see white, European models on display. Whereas, if something intrinsically negative is being argued, almost inevitably, it’s the black, brown and yellow (and/or ‘Muslim’) ones who suddenly become ‘a problem’. I’m not saying that Charles is doing this deliberately here. It’s simply an interesting observation about commentary in this area in general. I’m sure Charles feels the same about hardworking Pakistani shopkeepers and doctors as he does about hardworking Polish tailors.

  • HG Wells 'the alien'

    Where is Clark when you need him? Clark, can you hear me? I have spotted someone on the threads who doesn’t agree with Craig, but who also seems to be one of your ex-leaders and who is not as ranty as the followers of Mary often are? Should we extra-terras be worried? Is there an alternative earthly reality possesed of knowledge which we need to consider prior to our visit? I am passing on the threads of Mr Crawford to my intelligence cluszba.

  • Sam

    Spread the good news! Blair has arisen!
    .
    Blair’s piece was badly written, disjoint and rambling. He manages to be a better parody of himself than the Vicar in Private Eye. Of course, he left the country in a great state, and even left instructions on how to sort out any remaining problems, if only people had listened to him! And Tony ‘JP Morgan’ Blair understands criticism of bankers bonuses? Plus a good few plugs thrown in for his good work preaching the gospel in Africa.
    .
    I seriously think Blair has delusions which border on insanity. Give it a few more years and he’ll be speaking in tongues (for $10 000 a shot).

  • CheebaCow

    “then charges corporate executives $400 a pop to be photographed shaking hands with him.”

    What a fucking shameless whore. How can such an already wealthy man not die of humiliation behaving in such a cheap and classless manner? This is actually the best case I have heard for raising the PM’s salary, don’t we all want at least the pretence that our leaders deserve respect?

  • Guest

    Charles Crawford is the product of a system that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  • John Goss

    Craig, Mary, ‘But we must repudiate Blair’s assertion that there is little wrong with our society. One very good start would be to send Blair for war crimes trial at The Hague, to demonstrate to all that crime does not pay.’

    If Cameron gets his way sending Blair to trial at the Hague will not be possible. In today’s Sunday Express Cameron calls for a dissolution of our legal connections with Europe (no discipline), and he uses the riots as a starting point for introducing stricter control over children, in the home and at school (smacking is back in fashion). Some of it many would not disagree with, but he’s using a newspaper the readership of which would support detachment from European Legal obligations. There is a ‘phone vote on whether you agree with it. I voted No. I’ve had a look for a link but can’t find one. I’ll try again.

  • ingo

    I remember Blairs first step in 1997 was to ‘liberate’ single mums back to work, encouragement was given to leaving children, incl. some far too young toddlers, with a stranger, at a time when bonding is most important.

    Not only did Labour its best to remove mums from kids, they also encouraged estrangement via the benefit system, making it relatively comfy to live split up from fathers, whilst families would be struggling to live
    Lastly, an apparently new Labour Tony Blair’s doubling of child poverty, that really has been a top reason behind these riots.

    Together with his mates Brown and Ball, sort of doing the sums, whilst enabling banks to carry on with risky business by rejecting all controls and regulation for the City in 2006, they were also largely respopnsible for the 2008 calamity.
    They conveninetly keep forgetting to mention that a bill was before Parliament and that TBliar and Brown waved it off the order papers.

    As for PFI’s don’t get us started, almost all are representing bad value for money, even the audit comission now agrees and says as much, so any PFI should be opposed from now on.

    If they represent such bad value for money, how come our local Government lawyers, officers and politicians were all for it, Labour, Tory and Lib Dems.
    Labour took over the Tory’s PFI programme hook line an sinker, then started to implement and widen its scope.

    Current Government PFI incinerator programmes in the country, one currently imposed on us here in Kings Lynn, should be opposed, its lazy, polluting and unecessarry, if Cambridgeshire can recyle and reuse 71% of its waste, with an 81% target for next year, then so can other regions.
    a luta continua

  • Tom Welsh

    “…charges corporate executives $400 a pop to be photographed shaking hands with him”.

    Rather foolish of them as such a photograph alone might be viewed as justifying criminal investigations of those executives. Known associates of Tony Blair? Sounds to me like “links to a criminal organization”. Or even terrorism.

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