By Daphne Liddle
PRIME MINISTER David Cameron has authorised the use of water cannon and rubber bullets to quell the youth rebellion that has spread throughout the country.
Following a meeting of the national security council Cobra, Cameron said that police throughout the country are being issued with baton rounds (rubber bullets) and will have access to water cannon at 24-hours notice.
Meanwhile the Con-Dem Coalition claimed on Wednesday morning that flooding London’s streets last night with 16,000 police officers succeeded in preventing a fifth consecutive night of disorder and looting throughout the capital – though looting and arson continued in Canning Town, Barking and Tottenham.
Cameron made no attempt to disguise his hatred and contempt of the young rebels, referring to a “part of our society” that has “no respect”.
This is rich coming from a man who has, unprovoked in any way, for the past five months rained terror and mayhem down on the innocent citizens of Libya.
And after the parliamentary expenses scandal, the Murdoch media corruption scandal, the resignations of Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson, and his deputy, from their positions at the head of the Metropolitan Police, it is hard to know who these young people are supposed to feel respect for.
And when they see before them the unrestrained greed of the top bankers who take billion pound bailouts from the taxpayers and pocket most of it themselves in bonuses – while they face huge cuts in their living standards and life prospects – it is not hard to understand that the hatred and contempt between those at the top of our society and those at the bottom is mutual and growing.
This is not a race issue – young people of every race and ethnicity are involved and united. It is a class issue.
Cameron can count himself lucky that most of these young people have little political awareness, venting most of their anger in looting big stores and those of petty bourgeois retailers.
Violence erupted on Saturday evening in Tottenham four days after the shooting of a young man suspected of drug related offences. Initially the police claimed the man had been killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Now we know that only one bullet was fired, the one that killed Mark Duggan and then ricocheted into the radio of one of the police officers present. Some say that Duggan had been dragged from the minicab by the police and thrown on the ground before being shot.
The family of Mark Duggan and supporters wanted answers from the police and held a peaceful demonstration outside Tottenham police station. Police ignored their demands to speak to a senior officer for over four hours.
Then, after rumours that an officer had struck a teenage girl protester, the violence exploded. As more joined in it turned to looting. And as police seemed unable to stop it young people throughout the capital saw that police were unable to stop them and went out to share in the rebellion.
The Labour Representation Committee issued a statement, giving the background to the young people’s anger: “In March Haringey Council approved cuts of £84 million from a total budget of £273 million.
There was a savage 75 per cent cut to the Youth Service budget, including: closing the youth centres; connexions careers advice service for young people reduced by 75 per cent; and the children’s centre service reduced.
“Haringey has one of the highest numbers of children living in severe poverty, and unemployment in the borough is among the highest in the UK. In London as a whole, youth unemployment is at 23 per cent….
“In Haringey, you are three times as likely to be stopped and searched if you are black; and over two-thirds of those stopped are under 25.”
Some are already suggesting that slowness of the police in tackling rioters in London while allowing fires to get a firm hold before making it safe for fire engines to approach was part of a hidden agenda to stampede the general public into accepting more draconian powers to repress all forms of protest during the chaotic times ahead as the economy of western capitalism crumbles.
This week’s events demonstrate how quickly Britain’s passive and demoralised young working class can change their mood once they get a little confidence. But the only protection against the vicious backlash to come is to turn their anger into organised resistance that can end the whole rotten system once and for all.