Oliver Wright in the ‘Indy’ on the riots, desperately trying to proclaim them as the ‘inevitable result’ of lessons left unlearned after the last Broadwater Farm-related shindig:
When the ashes had been cleared, the events at Broadwater Farm lead to much soul-searching about community relations and the economic viability of one of London’s poorest areas.
How much has changed?
Well, it seems the answer is ‘Not a lot’.
Bernie Grant, then the leader of Haringey council and later the area’s MP, caused outrage when he reacted to the police request for plastic bullets to deal with future potential rioting. “The reason why the police are calling for plastic bullets is because the police got a bloody good hiding,” he told a crowd in the days after the riot. Turning to a handful of police officers who were standing nearby he added: “I hope you’re listening. There is no way I am going to condemn the actions of the youth on Sunday night.” By contrast David Lammy, the area’s current MP, said yesterday: “We have officers in hospital, some of whom are seriously injured. It’s a disgrace. This must stop.”
But, underlining the problems that still remain, the MP’s comments were met with cries of “the police want to see the place burn” from the crowd.
In other words, when the MP tells the rioting thugs what they want to hear, everything’s rosy. When he doesn’t…
Oddly, though I’ve no time whatsoever for the likes of David Lammy, I can’t quite see that as his fault, somehow…
Clive Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association, said this reaction was not atypical. “People feel disenfranchised. The police are a long way off representing the community.””While we wouldn’t want to use that as an excuse to justify that sort of violence, there’s no way we can ignore what has happened. There will be lessons to learn but this time we have to learn them. What we are missing is the issue of representation.“
You have ‘representation’, but when he rightly points out to people the consequences of their actions, he is booed.
I wonder why Tottenham couldn’t seem to elect another Bernie Grant? Is it because, come election time, there were sensible, hard-working people who wouldn’t stand for it?
And now they’ve been burned out, will they get the ‘representation’ they seem to desire?
Tottenham is in Haringey, where more than 10,000 people claim jobseeker’s allowance. In Tottenham itself, recent government figures showed there were 54 people chasing each job.
Funny, they don’t seem able to catch one, yet the local papers are full of them…
Brian Haley, who served as a councillor in Tottenham for 16 years until last year, said the area had received a lot of investment after the 1985 riots – but that had not altered the fundamental problems. “Nothing changes,” he said. “Politicians are coming out saying it is different to 25 years ago but it is not. They were not there; I was. There have been promises but no delivery. Northumberland Park Ward [near the scene of the rioting] is one of the most deprived areas in Europe, it has been like that for decades,” he added.
Really? It’s more ‘deprived’ than some poor areas of Spain or France, with no running water or electricity, and only farm work? I find that hard to believe…
And since you’ve been a councillor for sixteen years, perhaps we should wonder what you’ve been doing to help?
“There is high unemployment, low educational achievement– but none of this is new.”The media will be gone in a few days and the people of Tottenham will be the ones who have to pick up the pieces,” he said.
No they won’t. The decent people will have all fled. The ones that will be left will be the ones looking to have other people pick up the pieces.
And there will be a flock of ‘community leaders’ looking to make their own fortunes (political and financial) on the back of it.
So, maybe it really IS just like the Broadwater Farm of the Eighties…?