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After the riots… something that smells a bit of class war. August 13, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Capitalism, Crime, Inequality.

Well, what of the news this evening that:

With the support of David Cameron, Conservative Wandsworth council was the first to attempt to evict tenants who had been caught up in the rioting.
The authority announced on Friday that the first eviction notice had been served – to the mother of an 18-year-old boy accused of violent disorder and attempted theft. The teenager has not yet been convicted but has appeared in court in connection with disturbances on Monday at Clapham Junction.

You don’t have to in any sense condone the actions of the boy to think that evicting his mother is a step too far. He’s an adult in the eyes of the law. That he lives in the same flat/house doesn’t seem to me to be compelling as a reason to evict all others there – collective guilt is never pleasant, particularly when there seems to be no evidence of the guilt of others. That the boy hasn’t been convicted yet merely adds insult to injury.

Sure, there’s this:

Other authorities, including Westminster, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Nottingham and Salford, are also considering evicting those found to have taken part in the unrest.
An eviction notice is the first step leading to a final decision made by a judge sitting in a county court.

But that someone who didn’t riot is to suffer because someone else did something seems simply unjust.

And then there’s this gem…

Greater Manchester police had to apologise on Saturday after sending out celebratory comments on sentences from the courts. Commenting on the five-month prison sentence handed down to a young mother who did not take part in the riots but who accepted a pair of shorts a friend of hers had stolen, the force’s Twitter feed stated: “Mum-of-two, not involved in disorder, jailed for FIVE months for accepting shorts looted from shop. There are no excuses!”

Five months for ‘accepting shorts’ looted from a shop? The looting is dismal too, but five months seems hugely excessive. Indeed a custodial sentence seems excessive.

There are apparently some tensions in the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition, though I can’t see them coming to much. But what of Nick Clegg’s thoughts on all this?

“If you go out and trash other people’s houses, you burn cars, you loot and smash up shops – if you show absolutely no sense of respect to your own community – then questions need to be asked whether the community should support you in living in that community. I think that is a perfectly fair question to ask, but how you apply it needs to be done in a case-by-case way. The principle that if you are getting some support from the community, you are going to have to show some loyalty to it is a really, really important one.”

Well, perhaps so, though wiser heads argue that it may be counterproductive to criminalise overly hastily those who have no previous records. And I’m certainly not in principle, or in general practice, against custodial sentences for those who carry out the acts he describes above. But for those who didn’t carry them out? That stinks – and – apologies for the whataboutery, but in this instance the contradictions seems very stark indeed – this from an UK political class who in the past two years were more than forgiving of their own smash and grabs on the public purse.

But if the idea is to approach this with any degree of sensitivity, not merely as regards potential contributory factors in the genesis of the riots, but also preemptively to ensure they don’t occur again this seems designed almost willfully to achieve the opposite effect.


1. bjg - August 13, 2011

“The principle that if you are getting some support from the community, you are going to have to show some loyalty to it is a really, really important one.”

How does that apply to (say) Messrs Goldman Sachs?



2. Northside Socialist - August 13, 2011

Marxist Geographer David Harvey on the riots…

“A political economy of mass dispossession, of predatory practices to the point of daylight robbery, particularly of the poor and the vulnerable, the unsophisticated and the legally unprotected, has become the order of the day. Does anyone believe it is possible to find an honest capitalist, an honest banker, an honest politician, an honest shopkeeper or an honest police commisioner any more? Yes, they do exist. But only as a minority that everyone else regards as stupid. Get smart. Get Easy Profits. Defraud and steal! The odds of getting caught are low. And in any case there are plenty of ways to shield personal wealth from the costs of corporate malfeasance.”



3. Brían ó Cualáin (@brianach) - August 13, 2011

it’s ok to cheat, steal, kill as long you do it with the sanction of corporate and state power http://leathlamh-chle.blogspot.com/2011/08/lawlessness-or-hopelessness.html


4. WorldbyStorm - August 13, 2011

Thing is, and being in broad agreement with all of you above, there’s almost no one who reads this blog who by accepting music files, downloading films, dodgy DVDs, or software hasn’t been arguably vastly more culpable at one time or another than the woman who took the shorts. Not one who will be charged, appear in court, let alone have a custodial sentence. It’s bollocks.


5. HAL - August 13, 2011

The trickle down effect certainly works regarding criminality.


Alan Rouge - August 14, 2011

+1 Trickle down behaviour. Loot a country for billions and you can carry on with impunity. Throw a brick, steal a TV or “do the double” and you get the book thrown at you. I eagerly await some eager academic to do a study arguing that there is an increase in smaller petty crimes and welfare fraud at times when a cushioned elite are seen to get away with financial economic terrorism.


6. shea - August 13, 2011

the english upper class are asserting there monopoly of violence. same as the young people last week. they can put there opponents in jails, the young people can’t. pure muscle flexing.

maybe want comes from it will be better than the act . can always relly on imerialist to use a sledge hammer to crack a peanut.


7. PaddyJoe - August 14, 2011

Clegg: I was young and foolish:
“I will be quite open,’ says Clegg, sitting in his office at the House of Commons, leaning forward on a straight-backed chair and making lots of Tony Blair-style hand movements to support what he says. Brace yourself for tales of Bond-style exploits as a ski instructor, a road trip with Louis Theroux and how he dressed up in drag with New York fashionistas.

First, though, I want to know if this readiness to please means he’ll confess to the unvarnished truth about an episode he once passed off as ‘a drunken prank’. My understanding is that it was much more than that. It was arson, actually. He could have gone to jail, ending his chances of a political career before it had even begun. The property he destroyed, deliberately, was priceless. Can we talk about the cactus?

‘Oh, the cactus,’ he says, placing his head in his hands for a moment, then rubbing his face. ‘I just behaved very, very badly. I was on an exchange in Germany and I drank far, far, far too much. I was a teenager. I lost it, really.’

Lost it? He does seem genuinely agitated. ‘What I mean is I was drunk…’ Yes, he said that. What on? ‘They had this beer brewed in monasteries near Munich. Kloster Andechs. Unbelievably strong. Which clearly I couldn’t take.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1193693/Id-drunk-I-irresponsible-Criminal-Nick-Clegg-regrets.html#ixzz1UxP4FJnB


8. Alan Rouge - August 14, 2011

If this was Ireland and you were being punished arbitrarily like this for something a relative may or may not have done – since there has been no conviction – what would happen? Would your medical card be revoked? Rent allowance cut off? We have no f’n social housing to speak of anyway so you could hardly be evicted.


9. Organized Rage - August 14, 2011

A Russian oligarch once said, “In the UK, steal less than £100K your in trouble, more than a million and you are home dry.

As to the way the judicially system is behaving, all the cant is stripped away and we get a glimpse of whose interest it is there to serve.


10. Northside Socialist - August 14, 2011

Gene Kerrigan in the Sunday Indo comments on the riots in the UK and the establishment looters in the financial markets:

“Over the past three years, the determination of various gamblers and financial powers to defend their interests, at the expense of the rest of us and with the collaboration of the politicians, has been naked. The lessons of this have been obvious — this is how you thrive. Morality is for wimps.

This is the world these people have made over 30 years of unrestrained power — though they shirk responsibility for it. They will whinge, as they habitually do, about the dangers of supposed “liberal” policies, but the liberals have long accommodated to the victory of the political right. Last week, with a shudder and a lunge, parts of that world momentarily escaped their control and frightened the hell out of them.”



11. Council house evictions: a kneejerk reaction | Public Finance Opinion - August 14, 2011

[…] Yet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended Cameron, saying that his point that ‘if you are getting some support from the community, you are going to have to show some loyalty to it, is a really, really important one’.  Clegg has already come under fire from elsewhere in the blogging community, with one blogger asking whether the argument also applies (say) to Messrs Goldman Sachs? […]


12. Pope Epopt - August 14, 2011

Erm, was anyone really expecting due process or proportionality? Class war it is, and the point is not to prevent a repeat but to ensure the continued theatre of disorder and repression.

The Tories reckon this will play well with Daily Mail readers and Sky TV viewers, and they are almost certainly right. Forget the Lib Dems finer feelings, they have made themselves as irrelevant as the Greens were in the last coalition here.

Interesting article here on the parallels between the British riots and the explosion in the Parisian banlieue in 2005.


13. Terry McDermott - August 17, 2011
14. Council housing isn’t welfare | Baierle & Co. - August 17, 2011

[…] really, really important one.’ This is taking a broad view of community, though not broad enough, as at least one blogger has already pointed out, to embrace the support from the wider community enjoyed by, say, […]


15. CMK - August 18, 2011
16. Jack Jameson - August 18, 2011

Someone else pointed me to this.

‘Dealing with the renegades’ is an interesting 2009 article from the Independent Working Class Association.



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