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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  • HG Wells 'the alien'

    guest is a product of a system that knows the value of everything and the price of nothing

  • Vronsky

    Like many others who drop in here I was shocked by your awfully conventional judgements on the rioting English – but then you win me back with this very sensible position on state ownership. Advocacy of state ownership should be rational, not ideological.
    Monopolies, if unavoidable, should be state monopolies – we must not stray back to the mediaeval practice of giving private individuals the right to raise taxes, and that is what a private monopoly is. A cartel is just a monopoly managed by a few conspirators (e.g. gas, electricity, telephone) and should be illegal for the same reasons. These things used to be nationalised – we got it right first time, then drained some dull opiate to the dregs and became ‘a bit wandered’ as we say in Scotland.
    PFI? I don’t have much time for George Monbiot because he tells so many fibs, but he did scribble this sketch for a course of action. Let’s get ruthless – nationalisation without compensation.

    “Abdallah, broadly agree.”
    The Islamic objection to usury is (as I understand it – ducks and waits for correction) on ethical grounds, but there are very deep logical objections too. It’s a pity that the logical basis isn’t much examined – it all gets dismissed with ‘oh, it’s just something that those silly Muslims say’. A broken clock is right twice a day. I hope Muslim visitors to the blog won’t be offended by being compared to a broken clock – we’re all broken clocks here.

  • Roderick Russell

    Just on Craig’s comment – “the deliberate destruction of UK manufacturing capacity on ideological grounds by Thatcher”.
    I don’t think it was deliberately done, though it may look like it. The fact is that when Mrs. Thatcher came to power something had to change; the economy was already in trouble – it was in a hell of a mess. The problem was that her ideology was over simplistic; she confused the market capitalism of Main Street with the crony/casino capitalism of The City; and most of all she didn’t seem to understand that the changes she proposed required a considerable transition period (and funding). The truth is that the emphasis was not on growing real business, but on high finance; but I don’t think Mrs. Thatcher understood this. It was Churchill who once made the point that while it takes 300 years to grow an oak tree, one can cut it down in 5 minutes; the result was the destruction of Britain’s once great manufacturing and maritime industries.
    But I also think that the cost of servicing Britain’s ww1 / ww2 debt had a greater negative financial effect on the economy than we perhaps realized at the time. Not just a financial cost; but also a cost that changed our values. We looked for short-term quick fixes – we confused entrepreneurs with speculators; professional values of integrity and honesty collapsed; there was a loss of trust between management and workers; lawyers became liars; our institutions lost their integrity and propaganda/spin replaced truth; managers became bureaucrats; accountants became creative rather than honest; etc.
    As for PFI programs (as opposed to PPPs that don’t involve private financing) they should never make sense anyway, since governments should be able to finance government programs cheaper than the private sector can. The real purpose of PFIs is to keep government debt off government books – the public sector equivalent of Enron accounting.

  • John Goss

    @Charles Crawford. “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.”
    This is the very same argument bankers use to award themselves super-bonuses, while the rest of us are slaving alongside the Poles and other immigrants. Surely I’m not alone in wishing the bankers would take their greed abroad. They’ve ‘cocked-up’ this country well and truly.

  • Scouse Billy

    John, the bankers are globalists and own politicians the world over – Gaddafi being one of the exceptions, of course.
    I had a look at Crawford’s site – shameless self-promotion, profiting from his “public service” experience that was paid for by us, the taxpayer.

  • mary

    @HG Wells ‘the alien’
    Quite a ridiculous remark. No ‘followers’. What do you take me for?
    And this is not applicable.
    verb (used without object)
    to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; rave: The demagogue ranted for hours.
    Seeker for truth and justice. Yes.

  • Herbie

    Charles Crawford’s argument is almost as befuddled and confused as Blair’s.
    He posits on the one hand that Poland doesn’t suffer the English disease even though it has pursued neoliberal polices with more gusto than our own Blair Witch project and then on the other hand he observes that all the young Poles are working outside Poland.
    There’s your answer, Charles. There aren’t enough young Poles in Poland to riot and loot.
    Poland is as denuded of youth as the republic of Ireland was in the 1850s and 1950s. Irish ministers in the 1960s have even admitted that emmigration was a release valve for Ireland and indeed a policy plank.
    What were you saying about education?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Maybe it is vertical socio-economic solidarity that is needed.
    In a way we could say consume knowledge and understanding and that can lead to more social cohesion. I am suggesting that the rich in UK society are well advised to weigh what can be done with the poor in society, so that the type of social behavior and society that is desired, of people acting in socially cohesive and productive ways is enhanced. From the rich end, this implies fair and reasonable taxes being paid by corporations, wealthy executives and individuals; social expenditures being increased while correspondingly reducing the defence budget – which are all the kinds of policies that persons of Conservative persuasion find undesirable. Of course, there is the option which then Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham had prescribed of “ build more prisons of course” – I know, because I have a personal letter from him to that effect. Clearly, the tough and long sentences without rehabilitation and/or social and job provisions did not provide a viable solution in the 1980s any more than it will in the year 2011. So, what is the answer?
    What I ask myself might the savings be for pulling out of Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq if any British troops or operations are still being funded there. Surely, if the money can be found to wage wars of aggression – reasonable funds can be found for funding domestic social healing.
    The ideological divides however make it increasingly difficult for reasoned and sensible policies to be implemented. The “lock ‘em up brigade” has the answer by preaching the exclusive gospel of personal responsibility. Their opponents in certain elements of the left would have it that social expenditure provides the elixir for all social ills. The truth and the sensible options, I believe, require a calmer, less ideologically entrenched set of views which might then lead to policy prescriptions which show results. May I suggest a short list:-
    i) Increased investment in education with an emphasise on performance enhancement of teachers in the poorer areas.
    ii) Facilitate scientific research, the social sciences and the arts – not merely because the expenditure directly improves the economy, but on education because it improves the intellectual and reasoning capacity of the individual, and in so doing places persons within a societal pool of skill sets for the general good of the society.
    iii) Job creation
    iv) Productive social interventions with a view to changing the sub-culture of hopelessness and non-productivity.
    Just a very short list – but it will all need funding and a different set of policy options.
    What we don’t what is a society of “shallow minded” children and adults going around looting and creating social chaos.
    “A factor is indeed the deliberate destruction of UK manufacturing capacity on ideological grounds by Thatcher, an ideology carried through by Blair.”
    “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.”

  • deepgreenpuddock

    The subject of the blog post is very complex. But politics and bloggery is probably no forum for complexity. I think I am entitled mention this complexity, as I have worked and lived in areas of deprivation until very recently, including one of the most notorious in the US.

    At the moment I am sitting in a rather well built ex-council flat, which is in poorish condition, in what would be called an area of deprivation but is a complex mix, with one side of the street exactly like the most cliched vision of dystopic post modernity, and the other side neatly trimmed and
    maintained owner occupied urban gentility. Three young guys in their late teens, probably unemployable or uneducable at the moment, stand and smoke joints at the entrance, undermining what little intelligence they have. Occasionally one of them shouts ‘maaam’ like a sheep bleating. Maaam turns out to be strangely always busy, diligent and house proud, but still displays the abject complacency of deference to authority that she grew up with, which effortlessly persuades her that the ‘Sun’ is a font of wisdom instead of the psychopathic ramblings of crack addicts in the London media scene.she is from a time where she did not have to actively seek her own justifcation. She thus has no means to instil some capacity for self development in her charges. This deficiency is the real Scottish cringe- and such complacency suited those in authority for long enough.

    These young guys would have heartily joined a riot, I have no doubt. They are dysfunctional but not evil or out of control. They are hopelessly undeveloped individuals who can be swayed by ( or react against) the most casual gestures of stronger personalities. They are probably nearer to the slightly demented old guys who sit out in the afternoon sun nearby, shepherded there by the caring Maaam.
    You will see almost exactly the same scenario, with cultural adjustments, in Kentucky. The boys will be wearing a gun belt (with hand gun) and swigging from a can rather than a puffing a joint. This post industrial malaise is far from unique.

    It seems to me that successive generations of politicians in the UK, going back to the very start of what might be called something approaching ‘democracy’ in the UK, have progressively moved away from the fundamental principles of democracy, as they move along the career path. It is a systemic failure and is created by many factors one of which is the way alternatives to the establishment parties emerged out of unionised labour struggles and were always confronted by a rearguard action of establishment figures and forces that saw these democratic developments as highly threatening to their privileges, and traditions, and felt obliged to undermine democracy wherever possible.
    We have not really moved on much from that position, and indeed it is a statistically unsupportable travesty of representative democracy that the dominating political group should be drawn from such a narrow social cohort as the posh boys of Eton.
    However I am completely confident that this weird anomaly is one of those historical tricks which will ultimately serve to illustrate the dysfunction and folly of what we call ‘democratic politics’ at the moment.

    I think it was Nye Bevan who captured the futility of political ambition, with a description of his own political career, as at each stage he was unable to find, let alone pull, the levers of power. The simplistic attractions of tyranny seem obvious-if only we could cut through this need to consult-the need to find consent over as wide a range as possible.

    A post above, by Charles Crawford,is clearly harmonising well with this familiar riff. Is mr Crawford’s middle name ‘Pangloss’, as he reckons all is (almost) well, in this best of all possible worlds, and that Craig’s thinking is mistaken, as simply repeating the errors of the past-that of incentivising idleness and negating personal development. He says this without a blush, or the slightest hint of embarrassment, although, with the merest stretch of the imagination, I can hear those very words emerging from the mouth of Oswald Moseley in 1932. (I am sure Charles has no intention of sounding like a echo of the past, and no doubt he kisses his sleeping children on the forehead as he pats their bedclothes smooth).

    In effect he is, like so many others, suggesting some renewed form of social Darwinism. He cites the apparently endogenous industry, intelligence and energy of of the new arrivals from the old Eastern bloc countries, that have entered the EU, omitting to mention that the cohort of the east european population that arrived here in the recent past, were, for the most part, the young, university educated, bi and tri-lingual, fit and good-looking- and coming from a place where the economic conditions dictated that a western cleaning job trumped the conventional respectable career routes of a moribund social order, but still had the qualities, values and structures of a very effective state education system in place, based on the idea of free access, where they could develop the very qualities he admires. On the other hand he ‘personalises’ those qualities in those he wishes to berate (our ‘underclass’) , who we are feckless and insufficiently determined, or maybe even ‘black’ , even if they are white, (as another of our sterling high thinkers, David Starkey, would have it-the ‘history man’ with a po-faced, oxbridge snotty ‘air of authority’, used to magnify his banal observations, and a delivery technique that never fails to finally scunner even the most accepting and tolerant.

    In effect Mr Crawford bemoans, admittedly unwittingly (i.e. without the benefits of wits), that ‘we’ (the UK political establishment? the people?) have simply not swept away those lower orders properly, by applying sufficient Darwinian duress on them, and who, for whatever personalised reason, cannot compete with the cream of the Czechs, Poles, Latvians etc etc etc..

    i agree, in a sense, that ‘underclass thinking’- a self-preserving, but ultimately damaging mentality, sometimes becomes a vicious cycle, although it much closer to the truth that the so called ‘underclass’ are a complex mixture of the ill, disabled, addictive, traumatised, neglected, uneducated, intellectually deficient, abused, and plain unlucky.
    The great variety of these people who find themselves marginalised in this way suggests that the idea of a ‘underclass’ is a great mistake- an easy assumption for grand gesture politics, although it is also perfectly clear that groups of individuals develop anti-social habits and form semi-criminal associations, which, strangely, often share many characteristics with other closed societies; features such as initiations, exclusive dress codes, symbols and fetishistic attachments, with a tendency to challenge authority (such as throwing pot plants into shop windows, and refusing to snitch on group members, (demonstrations of group solidarity), and indulgence in criminal activities, and even extremely degrading, (often homosexual) sexual activities.
    Mr Charles Pangloss Crawford offers a remedy, using his ‘big brain’ global thinking perspective, the hallmark of the borderline disordered personality, and extreme narcissist, so typical of the those broad brush pontificating politicians, whose charms we repeatedly succumb to in elections, and so wonderfully exemplafied by the two people featured in the title.
    In the great scheme of things, in effect he is saying: there is not really a problem.
    Here he says: “Finally, let’s not forget that the number of people involved in the riots was sizeable but still microscopically small by absolute standards”.
    While Herr Pangloss Crawford does not actually offer any solution, we are left to infer that he is heartily endorsing the Cameron dictums and nostrums of “bang em up! and bang em up hard! , so that the small numbers made an an example of, are amplified by their aggrieved families and supporters and criminalised further by their experience of being inside.

    While I seem to be defending the idea promoted by CM that Mr Pangloss Crawford ridicules, that is not the case.
    the reality is that, in many areas where there is social complexity and low income, the key institutions
    such as schools, probation and social services have become almost impossible to operate. Workloads or emotional demands are very high, there is high absenteeism due to stress, and high staff turnover and burnout. the relationships with the democratic representatives often becomes compromised as they pursue quite different is to an answer. so often key people are ‘given’ money but have no analytical capacity to determine where and how to deploy resources effectively and simply ‘throw’ the money to relieve themselves of the burden, then develop some self-justificatory report that has tables of outcomes reached. Such work has become the core activity of many professionals.
    Anyone with a small success is pounced upon and asked to replicate that success, even when the context has changed so radically that all who trouble to look at the idea, know that it will not translate to the new situation. Nulab managerialism is rife.
    sometimes it is obvious that the inanity of these two situations merge seamlessly and ‘cronies become consultants’ who conveniently absorb the analytic deficiencies and flawed personalities of the senior people entrusted to bring about changes.

    Well, sorry about the long rant-if you have reached here you can probably apply for a medal of some sort.
    the OBE -the Order of Blog Endurance. I am also very grumpy due to a fast developing man-flu.

  • larry Levin

    anyway looking on the bright side they have re-inflated the london housing market,

    Blair/Brown allowed the UK treasury to be plundered, Hong Kong is a very free market country and everyone is happy there and all have jobs and zero riots. Our country is not really free market.

  • Canspeccy

    The first half dozen paragraphs of this post are excellent. Nicely written. Punchy. To the point.
    But the rest is totally nuts.
    “the earnings differential between the highest and lowest paid should be limited by law to a factor of four …”
    Exit the financial services industry which accounts for 9.4% of GDP, produces a 25 billion pound annual trade surplus and pays a quarter of all corporate taxes.
    For that matter, exit pretty well all relatively senior business people, professionals and civil servants, including ambassadors, for better paid opportunities abroad. Or will the Murrayite Socialist Republic have a wall around it like East Germany?
    There are quite sensible and simple solutions to poverty and ignorance, but recreating a Soviet-style system in Britain is not one of them.
    It is the widespread acceptance of the idea that all problems must be solved by an ever expanding bureaucracy (which already consumes more than half the wealth of the country) that is destroying Britain.
    But I suppose one last push by the Commies for total control of everything might be useful inasmuch as it will hasten the day of the counter-revolution.

  • John Goss

    That’s true, Scouse Billy, many of them are global and do own politicians the world over. But the argument used after the UK banks were nationalised under Brown, was that if we did not pay the cream of British banking outrageous bonuses we would lose this young talent to countries which did pay them.

  • eddie

    Craig with respect, your post is utter piffle. Previously you stated that you despised the criminal elements that had carried out this rioting. Now, because Blair has written some wise words on the topic, you seem to believe that they represent some kind of societal problem. You state Blair valued education only if it led to economic productivity. But it was Blair who insisted that 50% of kids should go to university, often to study crap courses that produce no benefit to the economy whatsoever.

    As an historian manque you know very well that England has always suffered from periodic riots. The Gordon Riots of 1780 led to the death of nearly 300 people and 20 were executed. Our European rivals claimed they proved the inferiority of British democracy but we went on to become the greatest power in the world.

    These riots have no sociological significance. The police lost control of the streets on the weekend of the 6th and 7th August and a group of people – probably no more than 30,000 – decided that they would do some shopping with violence in the absence of the police. The far right probably has a similar number of supporters but it does not have any bearing on the stability or decency of our society. To date, about 70% of those charged have a previous criminal conviction – the rest were simply swept up in the excitement. If you really think that the heads of these people, as they went about their business, were filled with the political and sociological thoughts that you ascribe to them then you are very silly indeed. Blair’s article is very good. Not least because it points out that Cameron’s “Broken Britain” thesis is an insult to the vast majority of decent and hard working people in this country, and it is a pretty rubbish branding exercise in the run up to the Olympics.

    Incidentally, I bet you would love to get $100,000 for a one hour lecture. Regrettably, few people want to listen to you.

  • craig Post author


    Actually I am continually surprised by how many people do want to listen to me. I do give talks and they are often very well attended indeed. Not by the sort of people who have US $100,000 to spare. And you are quite wrong if you think I would accept that kind of daft money – it is only given as a payoff for something else, not for Blair’s actual talk. Do you actually believe anybody thinks his words are worth that much?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ YOU EDDIE,
    “Craig with respect, your post is utter piffle. Previously you stated that you despised the criminal elements that had carried out this rioting. Now, because Blair has written some wise words on the topic, you seem to believe that they represent some kind of societal problem. You state Blair valued education only if it led to economic productivity. But it was Blair who insisted that 50% of kids should go to university, often to study crap courses that produce no benefit to the economy whatsoever.”
    “Facilitate scientific research, the social sciences and the arts – not merely because the expenditure directly improves the economy, but on education because it improves the intellectual and reasoning capacity of the individual, and in so doing places persons within a societal pool of skill sets for the general good of the society.”
    Thus – an Eddie can post on Craig’s blog and give reasoned bait for others to bite.
    “To date, about 70% of those charged have a previous criminal conviction – the rest were simply swept up in the excitement.”
    So – Blair lies – helps start a war in Iraq – claims over a million dead – leaves many maimed and psychologically scarred – who are the criminals? Maybe Blair was swept up in the excitement of Bush’s and Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s war? Moral equivalence?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ All,
    i) Fund wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya for starters; or
    ii) Bring the troops home and start funding social rehabilitation at home.
    The two sets of expenditures/non-expenditures are inter-related. For if you think it all the way through to central government and the expenditures therefrom ( which is really – taxpayers money) – then this reality gives special meaning to Malcolm X’s observation:-
    “If you’re not careful the newspapers will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing.”
    John Pilger put it this way:-
    “For the young at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth and patronage and poverty that is modern Britain, mostly the black, the marginalised and resentful, the envious and hopeless, there is never surprise. Their relationship with authority is integral to their obsolescence as young adults. Half of all black British youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, the result of deliberate policies since Margaret Thatcher oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in British history. Forget plasma TVs, this was panoramic looting.”
    So – the central government loots the public coffers and the City of London benefits – put the figures one next to the other – weigh the social and economic costs on the aggregate – then come back with the moral arguments about the street thugs relative to those who claimed and caused loss of lives above one million, plundered, destroyed and devastated – who are the real criminals deserving of very, very, long sentences?

  • John Goss

    Some have said it, and now I can confirm it, I need help.

    I read an article in an old newspaper of 1842 last night, “The Geneva New York Advertiser”, which carried the headline, “Dreadful Fire – Sir Robert Peel’s Mansion Burned to the Ground”. Its source was a Liverpool newspaper which contains an element of colourful reporting. “The mob were very riotous all Wednesday night, breaking into shops in Tamworth, and plundering whatever came their way; the police and a troop of soldiers dispersed the mob, the soldiers parading the streets until a late hour, when all was peaceable, and they returned to their quarters. About 6 o’clock on Thursday the mob broke out with all its fury, and before police and soldiers could be assembled, they proceeded to the mansion of Sir Robert Peel. We are sorry to say it was instantly set in flames, the mob being so large that they kept all assistance at a distance. Three regiments of soldiers had been sent from Birmingham. The things here are dreadful – all is in the greatest excitement.”
    In the same column there are reports from the European: “We continue to receive very distressing accounts from the disturbed districts. Several rioters have been shot by the military at Burslem, in Staffordshire . . . The disturbances have not created any great uneasiness in the City of London. It is the general opinion there that operatives are justified in resisting further reduction of wages . . . At Halifax, Blackburn, and Preston, the military have fired upon the mobs and several lives have been lost. . .”

    It took 13 days for the Caledonia to carry this news across the Atlantic. The European reports I have no reason to question. But why, I ask myself, have I not heard of the country residence of England’s prime minister being destroyed by a mob? This is intriguing. Is it true? Or is it just a piece of creative journalism? Are there any historians who have heard of Peel’s mansion at Drayton Manor (which was only finished in 1835) being razed to the ground? In one respect there would be some satisfaction in thinking that rioters had targeted the home of a prime minister, and officers of the police force he is accredited with having created were unable to contain the rioters. Was this hushed up? Is it possible to hush up such an event? Apparently the Queen visited Drayton Manor in 1843. I know a bit about the Peel family and Tamworth but only until 1820. Can anybody throw any light on this supposed Liverpool report, please?

  • Paul Johnston

    @John Goss
    Assume you mean the Plug riots!
    There is a Blue Plaque about them in Stalybridge
    Engels wrote
    … multitudes of courts, back lanes, and remote nooks arise out of [the] confused way of building … Add to this the shocking filth, and the repulsive effect of Stalybridge, in spite of its pretty surroundings, may be readily imagined

  • mark_golding

    “Sister in law of a once powerful oppressor of human beings – sorry – the Middle East envoy Tony Blair as he likes to be known.”

    “When I was a child I grew up in your average North London household in the 70’s, which is to say that both my parents were drunk a lot of the time. My father was a lapsed Catholic, that means that he drank a lot of Guinness and got a lot of women pregnant. Imagine I used to sing hymns when he had a drink! It sounds a lot gloomier than it was and this isn’t knocking Catholicism, but there is a lifestyle that means secularism has overtaken the popularity of belief in our communities in Britain.
    My mother was what you might be able to call perhaps a superstitious Christian, so she would never go to church and she’d never talk about religion, but she would hang crosses around her bed to ward off evil spirits…
    Considering the drama in the newspapers post 9/11 about this community waiting with knives to slit our throats and guns to attack us and planes to crash on us; how come it was so quiet before 9/11? We won’t go into that…
    The thing about 9/11 is it wasn’t just a clarion call for the people who wanted to find a new enemy, for people whose lives had become so materialistic that they enjoyed war. If we are not having a ‘cold war’ if we’re not having a 2nd World War, what war can we have to justify our emptiness inside? It wasn’t just a wakening for them you know… people with curious minds thought, what is Islam? Who are these people who have silently waited to kill us…?
    I remember seeing some news footage from Palestine. There were some images that are iconic and so deeply moving that they do something to your soul. One of these images you’ll remember and I’ll put it into your mind now and you won’t be grateful that I have done it, but I have to. A young girl with napalm on her back, screaming, remember that from Vietnam? An awful image; you can see it. Well I’ll give you another image now, one that has stayed with me for eleven years and will never go. A young boy with a stone in his hand, doing this [aiming] as a tank bears down on him. I can tell you that boys name, that was Faris Odeh, he was an early teenager from Rafah in Gaza and soon after that picture was taken, he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper; another mother mourning, another child in a place I’d hardly heard of. Something about that image woke me…”
    Lauren Booth

  • YugoStiglitz

    Lauren Booth has two strikes against her (at least). She filed for bankruptcy. She’s chosen to be a slave. But citing her does seem appropriate for this blog.

  • YugoStiglitz

    Heh – anybody upset that Nato and the rebels are WINNING and that the Libyan people finally have a chance at freedom?

  • eddie

    Craig, I’m sure people do want to see you, but that was an aside. The point you fail to answer is that a week ago you were saying the riots were just the work of a criminal underclass (gangster influenced, that you despise etc etc) but now you are saying it is some kind of wider problem of society, created by Blair and Thatcher. You contradict yourself I’m afraid The trouble is, that your hatred of Blair is such that it blinds you to the fact that he may be right on this occasion. You also fail to mention the good side of society that has emerged from the riots – the riot clean up campaign, organised via twitter, and the dignity and resilience of the Kurdish, Muslim and Sikh communities.

  • Ruth

    I believe in the case of Libya that the agreement between the TNC and the UK is that the new government will pay for the cost of the war.

  • mark_golding

    Larry – Ha! – you are a slave to the popular media. Mustafa Abdel Jalil rebel commander at a gate to Tripoli got an encrypted message on his BID radio not to enter as NATO would NOT back them up with air-strikes that would certainly kill many innocent civilians – perhaps locally brokered deals might do the trick eh?
    Meanwhile British SAS trained private thugs are in Tripoli with explosives. Check out the popular press coming your way soon with news of car bombs and ‘insurgency attacks’ on Tripoli’s population. I might even get sent a few images from the scenes of destruction.

  • Paul Johnston

    Any chance of you telling us how you know about an encrypted message from NATO?

  • Martin Budden

    “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.”

    I disagree. Unfortunately conflicts of interest exist in publicly owned bodies. A public body may decline to do what is right because it has to pay the cost. Witness, for example, Bury Council seeking to avoid giving equal pay to women: Or Sunderland Council: Or Glasgow City Council: Or the old CEGB dragging its feet on the issue of acid rain: Or, as you well know, look at the Foreign Office. That’s effectively a publicly owned body that which often doesn’t do what you or I would regard as the right thing, because of inherent conflicts of interest.

    Unfortunately if the government owns a body, then it is less likely to enact legislation or enforce regulations that directly cost the government money (be that cost direct or indirect).

    I favour strong regulation over government ownership. Of course the regulators in Britain are generally very weak, but the problem of weak regulators should be addressed by increasing their strength, not by turning to public ownership.

  • HG Wells 'the alien'

    ‘reporters travelling with rebel fighters say they have reached the city from the west to a rapturous welcome.’

    I cannot believe this is true. So many of you have led me to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are acting because of the sinister motives. Maybe they are but I think we all need to recheck our facts. These words from the BBC are terrible news. They must be making it up on the orders of the sinister forces that work behind the real news to oppress. Sometimes I wonder if I can really believe the threads.

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