Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London's Burning - riots carry a special resonance for Irish who lived there


"London's burning", as the old Clash song went.  It might have taken 34 years for that statement to come true, but it certainly has.  

So there goes that stereotype of the "reserved", law-abiding Brits and the "rebellious" law-deriding, Irish then.  If there is anywhere in Europe that people should be out in the streets, chucking Molotovs around and making the coppers work for their overtime,  it's here in Ireland, rather than across the water.

But dropping the facetiousness for a moment, it really is alarming.  The first riots followed several hours after a peaceful protest in Tottenham which centred on an armed suspect being shot dead by police in the area, but after that it just seemed to take on the qualities of a craze - with a bit of looting thrown in, of course. 

The strange thing, looking from here in Ireland, is that some relatively affluent areas have been affected - Ealing for example.  Then there's Wood Green - a place I have fond memories of, as I passed my driving test there. 

But what about Peckham? That place was scary 25 years ago when I went to do a 9-year stint in London as an economic migrant.  Mind you, I was in a squat for several weeks with these middle-class types from lovely comfortable homes in Dublin who were slumming it for a bit  -  I'm sure they had their poor mums and dads climbing the walls.

For my part, I'd had enough of living in bad housing all my life as a kid (violin music here please) so I was only too keen to get out and get some decent surroundings for myself.  An incident whereby we were chased from a squat when its rightful owners came to move in - it had been allotted, unbeknownst to us - probably hastened that decision.

Eventually I got a flat in Streatham before deciding that South London was not for me.  So north of the Thames it was for a one-and-a-half year stint in Finsbury Park, before spending the best part of seven years in Stratford, East London, in the Borough of Newham - one of London's poorest.  That's where they are holding the Olympics next year, so that is nice to see - assuming the whole lot doesn't go up in smoke first.

London was good.  People were not as parochial there as in Ireland and they were friendly enough, considering the size of the city.  I worked with local yokels and most of them were sound as pounds.  I even had a season in the Sunday League as a crap central defender in a crap team that got beaten 7-0 every week.    So watching all that is going on over there carries an extra resonance.  

Let's hope they can get a lid on it soon.  Ordinary Londoners - native and otherwise - should not have to suffer their city being destroyed around them.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page.

28 comments:

albert hall said...

The problem in London will not be solved by putting the lid on it. That is what has been happening since Labour and its airy-fairy ldeas were put into ptactice and wasted all the country's wealth on daft ideas that people were not ready for. Labour also opened the gates and filled the country with more people than the country can house, give employment to or educate. Then it was further handicapped by the health and safety rubbish which knackered the police, and human rights laws which knackered the judiciary. On top of this came the famous Labour cop-out with its now famous, the goodby letter from the leader of the Treasury; "THERE IS NO MONEY." Any hope of looking after our growing population went out of the window to save the country from banktuptcy, so in good Irish parliance "There you have it." What was needed was to have the lid lifted OFF that which was breeding in the London estates for too long. For 13 years peole have been pouring into the UK from countries who did not have an inkling of how our society worked, one that has taken hundreds of year to develop.

Anonymous said...

"So there goes that stereotype of the "reserved", law-abiding Brits and the "rebellious" law-deriding, Irish then."
Most of the "Brits" rioting are blacks or culturally black white chavs. And many the of whites rioting are of Irish descent like in Salford and Liverpool. Sorry for being un-PC.
The Visitor

Ella said...

@AlbertHall - in general I've enjoyed all your comments to date, opinions are always good, but when stating facts like "Labour also opened the gates and filled the country with more people than the country can house, give employment to or educate." Is this true? Have you any evidence that more people choose to reside in the UK when Labour was in power than when the Conservatives were at the helm? (obviously excluding those from 27 MS, as being part of the EU, it's a right we all enjoy to choose to live anywhere in Europe).

@ The Visitor 18h37- same criticism "Most of the "Brits" rioting are blacks or culturally black white chavs. And many the of whites rioting are of Irish descent like in Salford and Liverpool" - of those charged, are there a disproportionate number of Irish descent and/or Black people? Do you have data to support your "facts"?

Dakota said...

Tragic GM, very sad, London is a great city. It's criminality of a new type and ferocity, it has to be said GM. Horrific. Western life - and nowhere is it more apparent than in Ireland - is all about memes and a type of viral psychology now. (Equally fascinating and boring in equal measure). Both of which exacerbated by technology, be it candyfloss television, computers, magazines, celebrity culture, etc. The west has created societies where subcultures were allowed to explode over the last 20 years. Although the middleclasses have expanded and affluence has increased, basic structures by which most previous civilisations lived have disappeared - or are disappearing. A reversal of civilisation has been underway for at least the last 60 years.
At one end of the spectrum you now generations of one parent families who see this "lifestyle choice" as the norm. Openly encouraged by successions of governments. Sections of society have irreversibly broken down. Contrast that at the other end, with other sections that have also become equally emasculated, albeit in a different sense. I wouldn't be surprised if you asked teenagers with greater social, political and cultural capital, whether or not it was legal to eat a hamburger on the street and you were to get a confused answer. There seems to be a huge disenfranchisement at many levels when it comes to the young now.
As for Ireland? Well I'm of the opinion GM, that we are experiencing the longest riot in history at the moment. But of course as it's Ireland its unbearably subtle with the misplaced and misdirected aggression all beneath the radar. Yet it's there bubbling and simmering nonetheless. It's as lethal as anything that's going on in London.

albert hall said...

Thank you for your comment Ella. The Labour Party were in power for 13 years; the Conservative Party just over a year. In that time it has been trying to get to grips with the disastrous mess Labour left behind. The financial problem alone will take 10 to 20 years to solve. The immigration problem likewise as the attempts to regularise it hasve been set back by; new EU legislation allowing people to move from one part of Europe to another, human rights issues which stop people from outside the EU being returned to whence they came, and the birthrate caused by the growing immigrant population. A combination of all this has led to a population that is becoming too high to support. But, top of the list is the desperate state of the countries finances left behind by the Labour Party. There is not the money available to support all of the population never mind the new. We have one million people, under the age of 25 on the dole, most of which have never had a job, nor their parents. There are millions of pensioners to fund. We have thousands of one parent families. All this adds up and has bubbled, or shot, to the surface. Strangely enough colour does not appear to matter as the recent riots have shown as ALL the people have melded together to help, but there does appear to be more black faces than whites on the TV screens. Maybe it is because these represent the people the country cannot look after as there are too many with too many problems. On the EU question 75% of the popiulation want out of the EU as it would appear the UK, while it is dealing with its own financial problems is also having to fund the Euro mess as well. That was signed up to by the Labour Party as it left office knowing full well that there was no money.

albert hall said...

I have to comment on the headline to this article in order to put the facts right instead of a sensational Red Top one. A small part or parts of London's main shopping streets were burning due not to riots but as an excuse to rob and loot. The targetted areas being chosen to be spread out so as to stretched the police force out for maximum effect. A police force adequate for usually only having to deal with drunken, rowdy night club exit behaviour. There is the belief that it was well organised through the medium of social networking sights by wealthy, bored people wanting to have a buzz and what better way only to use the less wealthy as stooges and cannon fodder. What they forgot was that the traffic on these sights are recorded and so the indivuduals can be exposed. Not a smart move. A bit dumb. However, with the Olympic Games coming up next year, the perpetrators were trying to alarm tourists and attenders to the games from outside the country. Another dumb move because the country and the people benefit from both or either of these. The sad thing is that London has not been handed a bad place to visit and a more hard-hitting police force. Freedom has suffered once again.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Albert Hall. Hmmm... I seem to remember a certain Mrs Thatcher - very much Convservative rather than Labour - claiming there was "no such thing as society". I think that even the most doctrinaire Tory would have to accept there is when it breaks down. But yeah, the reasons for all of this have to be explored, with no room for taboos.

@ The Visitor. Like Ella, I would like to see whatever data you have on this subject. I would also question your fascinating claim that many of the "whites" rioting are of Irish descent. Why then, is Dublin, Cork and Galway not ablaze? Not to mention Kilburn and Cricklewood. Again, where is your evidence to support this?

Also, If I have a couple of Motown or Northern Soul songs on my MP3 player does it mean I am "culturally black" and am liable to raze all around me?

@ Ella. As you see, I have raised the same points myself.

@ Dakota. I'm amazed by the footage of kids simply walking in through broken shop windows and helping themselves. Last night on the news there was some chav in Manchester saying "the police can't do nuffing". That's what amazes me. The UK is festooned with CCTV and I remember years back being on a couple of AFA (Anti Fascist Action) demos and the police were all over us to keep us and the fascists separated. They were well organised, big-time. The same at football matches... it seems a bit strange that these yoofs are getting away with it all...

albert hall said...

Read Kevin Myers in today's INDO. I have the original silver covered 33 12inch LP Tambla Motown. And the Irish have lived in the UK so long that they are British now as my English family living in Ireland have become Irish. As as dear Irish friend of my once said; England and Ireland is just one big bed. My being Co Wicklow.

albert hall said...

Hello Dakota,
The CCTV's, social networks have done a wonderful job in bringing hundreds of the riot criminals to court with them working day and night to process and hand down sentences that may make these people think twice. The problem this time was the way the riots were organised using the social networks splitting up the police by moving the riots where they were not. Divide and Rule

Hello Ella, I did see and take in the comments you were making which goes to show open minds can come to the same conclusion.

Viewing the House of Commons today I believe the riots have had a big contribution of bringing to attention a load of problems taht have been sitting, possibly uncovered, in parts of England. Hopefully something will be done now. It always takes road accidents to provide a set of traffic lights.

Dakota said...

@GM it was the systematic, carefree, organised and detached nature of it, which shows exactly where society is now, and it's not a good place. It may have been a small section which went on the rampage but the problem is society wide. The regression seems to be speeding up, this is just another symptom.

@Albert Hall, yes too true the CCTVs did a good job. From memory London is the city with the largest number. As you say the problem was the strategy used by the rioters, no doubt. A new twist to networking sites, chilling.

Ella said...

@AlbertHall - just so you know where I'm coming from I lived in London (Tower Hamlets) for 8 years during the late 80s and early 90s, when the conservatives were in power. I believe this gives me the right to an informed opinion (at best), on matters across the pond. So the Labour party were in power for the last 13 years, however the Tories were there from 1979-1997 and I seem to remember they left the UK in shit when they were ousted quite spectacularly by Labour. I don't think Labour faired any worse/better than the conservatives. Yeah the 2010 election left the incoming government with a lot to deal with, but so did the 1997 election.

On another note, ta for bringing Kevin Meyer's article to my attention (normally I avoid his literary offerings as I find him very right wing). However, I've taken on board his comments.

And yes open minds can come to the same conclusion.

Link to article here for other blog readers.
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/kevin-myers-feral-rioters-all-have-one-thing-in-common-a-lack-of-father-figures-2844058.html

Anonymous said...

Thats funny Albert. I remember that the required checks on people coming into the country outside the EU were lessened under Thatcher and all together got rid of by the Major government. Labour did install back the border force and introduced back in some more stringent immigration checks but of course the damage was done.

Thatcher and Major opened the gates because their big business pals wanted a cheaper labour force and the next government got the blame for it and had to do damage control. Funny that, really.

albert hall said...

Thanks Anonymous. John Waters in the Irish Times is a good read today. I missed out on the Thatcher/Major eras as I was living in Ireland at that time and a good many years after that. Will return when the property prices and the currency exchanges return to normal, but fear I would have been dead many a year before that happens. A good friend of mine has reminded me that the UK is still paying off the debts of WW II. So its Blighty for me?

Anthony said...

@anonymous. The odd thing is that although the people in Ireland have far more to riot about than do their London cousins (e.g., the banking catastrophe, the decades of abuse of children, the general incompetence of governments), they remain strangely passive. You just don't see the massive riots that are common in Greece or Paris, or now, the large UK cities.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anon. Thanks for that info.

@ Albert Hall. "So it's Blighty for me?". It depends, Albert. Property still inflated by Nama, repossession moratoriums have the same effect. The inevitable has to happen sometime though, even in Ireland. If you're into your wheels, though - as I am - Ireland is not the place thanks to VRT and high road tax.

@ Anthony. Yes - far too passive. Let' use another song title: "Sheep" by The Housemartins.

Anonymous said...

@Ella and Gombeen Nation, from the pictures I saw, most of the rioters were black or mixed race. There were some white. AFAIK All the riots were in cities with large black populations like London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Bristol etc. The white rioting was copycat. There were NO RIOTS in HIDEOUSLY WHITE Newcastle, Devon and Scotland. Seeing as black population is only 2% of the UK population, don't you think they were over-represented.

WHAT started the riots? The shooting dead of an armed mixed race man Mark Duggan.

The FIVE DEATHS in the riots all involved blacks! A black looter Trevor Ellis in Croydon was shot dead by a rival gang member (also probably black). Three Pakistanis in Birmingham were murdered in a hit and run by Afro-Caribbeans according to locals. One Pakistani said "These black men deliberately tried to kill us all". And I've just heard news of another death. The life machine of a white man Richard Mannington Bowes was switched off. He was attacked while trying to put out fires in Ealing. The suspect was described as "a well-built black man".

Blacks were centrally involved. But in fairness to the black community extreme left organizations may have provoked the riots in the beginning.

And Liverpool and Salford do have large populations of Irish descent. The local football clubs Everton and Manchester United were called "Catholic" because of their large Irish support. I'm Irish myself.

Some white youths living in or near black ghettos could be described as culturally black. They listen to rap, they may have black girlfriends/boyfriends and mixed race siblings. Many speak in an accent heavily influenced by Jamaican patois.

Anonymous said...

Sorry in the last post I forgot to sign off as The Visitor.

The Visitor

Anonymous said...

@Gombeen Nation - it seems a bit strange that these yoofs are getting away with it all...

Nothing to with the fact many of them are black and general political correctness. The police must not be suspected of racism in the pursuit of their duty.

The Visitor

Anonymous said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6418456/Labour-wanted-mass-immigration-to-make-UK-more-multicultural-says-former-adviser.html
Labour wanted mass immigration to make the UK more multicultural.

The Visitor

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the far left were behind the riots but the SWP certainly don't condemn them.
http://www.swp.ie/editorial/riots-one-most-powerful-expressions-anger-decades/4739
The Visitor

Anonymous said...

The SWP only care about the likes of Mark Duggan. They couldn't give a damn about the murders of Richard Bowes or the three Pakitanis. Who cares about them. They weren't killed by "police brutality" and oppressed working class blacks are the suspects.
http://westminsterjournal.com/?p=217

The Visitor

The Gombeen Man said...

From my recollections, Visitor, the SWP were all about opportunism. When I was in London and in AFA, they did more to garner support for the fash than discourage it. They did more harm than good through their politiking. And not a worker among them.

albert hall said...

Interesting that this site, an Irish one I presume, has attracted so much attention about London and parts of England, yet no Irish are mentioned in being involved in the riots? Does that mean Irish people are, in the main, happy over there, or that Itish people take more care to raise their people properly with Mum, Dad, Grandma, Grandad, Aunts, Uncles, a dog and cat, even a budgie and a few hamsters as my English sons do with their Irish children with Irish mothers do in Dublin? In the many parts of London and other English cities where the riots took place family does not exist.

albert hall said...

GM. What decided you in using the name Gombeen Nation for your site? It does have a ring of mirth about it but knowing the meaning of it I am somewhat surprised that Nation suggests that all the nation comprises of Gombeen men and woman which, in my experience of living there and being the proud grandfather of four, very bright and intelligent Irish chillen, is not so. Like any nation we have a few here in the UK, but they are safely locked up in the Palace of Westminster and do not represent all of the people in the UK. In fact we the people her do not have much time for them. Long may GN prosper. I look forward to see another subject to which I can offer comment. It is a shame that the Irish national Press do not allow space for reader's comments intheir columns.

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Albert. I plumped for Gombeen Nation as, sadly, the place has been run by gombeens since 1922 - the gombeens are our "elite" ruling class. Also, it is an exclusively Irish term. Sure, every nation has its share of thickos and gobshites, but Ireland has the gombeens to boot. The cute hoor political class that runs the show.

I've a fair idea of life in England, as I lived in London for the best part of nine years - I've been back here in Dublin since 1997. Thing is, over there (Britain) dodgy dealing politicians get to see the inside of HM's custodial facilities now and then (Archer, Hamilton and I know there were more). In Ireland, things are different. They get more votes. Lowry is an example. Even years back, my old dear knew Haughey was as crooked as an MFI bookshelf. But they loved him. Don't ask me why, but there is some honesty and integrity deficit here. Small country too - population wise - so I suppose that contributes to the problems of clientism as well.

Know what you mean about the press. Letters pages are never big enough, as I feel it gives you some idea of a paper's readership. I think they are more wary of comment online.

Anyway, glad you like reading the blog - nice to have your comments.

Ella said...

@TheVisitor - thanks for those press cutting, read and duly noted.

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