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View From the Cliffs

The Moral Aspects of Rioting and Looting in the Misty Isles
Anth Ginn

Last Friday I sat down to write my column for PASSPORT, telling English-speaking, tax-dodging, ex-pats and fugitives from justice, hiding out in Moscow, what’s happening in the sleepy old UK. Nothing was happening. There was nothing to report. Britain was dozing on the beach, after a lunchtime pint, towel over head, tabloid fluttering gently at the feet.

Then three weeks ago, the London Police shot dead Mark Duggan, an unarmed, 29 year old black man from the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham, North London. Mark, father of four, was shot in the chest and arm. Broadwater was the scene of riots in 1985, when black woman, 49 year old Cynthia Jarrett died when police burst into her flat. This was after riots in Brixton, the previous week, following the shooting of another black woman, Dorothy “Cherry” Groce, during a police search.

A protest march against the shooting grew into two nights of rioting in Tottenham. Then the rioting spread to other parts of London and the UK. By the time the riots left the borough, they had changed. Mark Duggan was no longer the issue. A more important agenda involved getting new trainers and mobile phones, or for the female rioters, the latest autumn lines from TK Max. Rioting quickly became looting.

People are rioting all over the world, for economic justice, equal rights, freedom of expression, democracy, an end to racism. But in the UK it’s embarrassing, social disorder is an excuse to go shoplifting. To hell with the vote and free education.

“What do we want?” “A pair of size 9 Nike Dunk High Hyp Premium iD Men’s trainers.”

“When do we want them?”


The politicians were horrified, and rushed back from holiday to appear on TV saying what awful, immoral, unacceptable people the rioters were and how they would be punished. Their crimes against humanity would not be tolerated. Several senior police officers displayed their lack of media savvy and looked complete idiots on TV, sounding like a WW2 propaganda film, they came out with corny platitudes like, “We have your photographs. We know who you are. You have been very, very naughty. We will hunt you down, no matter how long it takes. We will come round to your house and arrest you and send you to prison for thousands of years. See how cool you look with your hood up when you’re in prison, getting raped in the shower by Mr Big. Ha ha ha ha...”

Londoners, who are well aware that the police don’t even come round to your house if you phone and say, “There’s a burglar in the bedroom right now,” laughed back.

After recent the revelations about them kissing Rupert Murdoch’s arse, fiddling their expense claims, the dishonesty involved in going to war in Iraq, and the mysterious insanity of attacking Libya, they needed to regain some moral high ground. Although when you’re being swept towards the sea in an open sewer, any kind of ground will do.

The dollar is shaking and reaching for its gun, the euro trembling and reaching for the parmesan while the pound is groaning drunkenly, reaching for the remote control. As the Mexican child said towards the end of Terminator, “A storm is coming.”

Cameron and Milliband are both hammering their lecterns, lecturing us on the evil of grabbing a pair of trainers through a broken shop window, or the pitfalls of stealing a mobile phone. Telling us how this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. Cameron said, “We need a criminal justice system that scores a clear and heavy line between right and wrong.”

It’s a pity he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong himself.

“What do we want?” “A pair of size 9 Nike Dunk High Hyp Premium iD Men’s trainers.”
“When do we want them?”

During the week of the trainer riots, an incident, took place in Libya, which barely made the national news. It was buried by reports of broken shop windows and mobile phone theft.

NATO jets, under the orders of our moralising Christian, politicians, bombed a couple of buildings in Zlitan, Libya, and killed 85 civilians, including 33 children. The justification for our war on Libya was to establish a “no-fly” zone to protect civilians from being bombed. So what the hell’s going on in Cameron’s private little war? As with Iraq and Afghanistan, they haven’t thought it through.

 Imagine the media coverage if Libyans had bombed and killed 33 British Christian children. But because this atrocity was carried out by the RAF, under the orders of Cameron, there was no film of grieving relatives, no interviews with the bereaved parents and children, and there will be no anniversary this time next year. We’ve run out of grief and morality, at the same time.

Nobody is mourning the deaths of 33 Libyan children in the UK. Our tears were shed for the loss of a few JD Sports shop windows, and the theft of a few hundred mobile phones from Carphone Warehouse.

And unfortunately our politicians are clean out of morality again. Which is a shame, because I’d like Mr Cameron to morally justify a war nobody wants, asked for or provoked, which is costing billions we don’t have, and is draining resources which we badly need at home. How does he justify twisting a UN resolution to establish a no-fly zone, into a mandate for bombing innocent civilians?

Or maybe it’s about oil again, and Cameron is using the opportunity of a riot to grab a few cans, through the broken window of the petrol station, and run home before the police arrive— which could be weeks.

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