White riot in England 1977
Battle of Lewisham
"White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
Black people gotta lot a problems
But they don't mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick"
The tension and feeling of being helpless to help your self is more than apparent in the lyrics of The Clashes " White Riot". Ironically the punk band was far from encouraging racism, the song was a call for the masses of white youths to find a cause that was worthy of them, instead of wandering aimlessly on the dole. That however was not how the song was seen and many white people who had National Front sympathies took this as support to protect " White Britain". Why is it when there is a message to be found, there are always the wrong people who pick up the message wrongly?!
What triggered the riots, where was the National Front gaining it's strength from? Was it from anger of immigrants, poverty, or was it a collation of everything together?
The 1970's were not a time of greatness where people didn't have anything but were happy as nostalgic fools would have you believe, many people went malnurished, children went around in " hand me downs" that were too small or badly fitting and it was tough if they had holes in because it was " mend and do" time, something a lot of people need to learn to do in this decade. Men were out on strike and either in turmoil over not being able to feed and keep their families or mistreating their families even worse than before and spending what little they had in the pub.
Women took in the washing of those they hated , the middle class and those the attack on Trade unions were not affecting, but beggars can't be choosers. A bit of domestic cleaning or washing and ironing was all that stopped some families from starving.
There were stikes from miners and other sympathetic Trade unions, helped along by the notorious Arthur Scargill. Arthur Scargill was a very big political figure during the 70s, as a Labour party member and as a member of the National Union of Miners. He openly fought Margaret Thatcher's policies to close down any non profitable pits as he could see that she wanted all of them closed, although this was thoroughly disputed by the Conservative Margaret Thatcher. This was to continue in to the 80s, still effecting the same generation. 25 Years later the affect can be seen all over the North in ex mining communities that have extremely high unemployment, lack of regeneration and lack of housing. Housing that is available was put up in haste to house miners coming down from areas such as Newcastle and were not meant to stand the test of time, but temporary. They are now permanent residences of the lower classes, full of damp, made with single brick and render or prefabricated and there is a lack of homes for others. The "right to buy" was not thought out well enough, nor where the promises of new social housing ever implemented. Many people with good savings bought out council proerty that their families lived in, only to eventually either sell them on to landlords or become landlords themselves. Feeding the poor that needed the social housing to the wolves.
Last in, first out mentality
With this sort of situation, with jobs disappearing, children running around with snotty noses and empty bellies, the cave man attitude was bound to surface, as it always does in times of economical pressure. When you need a home for your new little family and you see a coloured or foreign family that does have a house, regardless of whether they were born in the UK or not, the mentality of " Huh, they give houses to foreigners straight away, we have to go homeless!" appears...scarier than that, if you think that mentality disappeared with the 70s you are so wrong. Today I myself have still heard the Xenophobic cries of " I'm gonna paint my face, get everything then!". Whilst this is so wrong on many levels socially, does it hold any truth?
Whilst Britain has been seen as multi cultural, are we losing our own culture? The government and those in power of the pen, such as newspapers like The Sun, Daily Mail need to stop adding fuel to the fire, people also being overly politically correct for groups that have not asked for their interference. One example of this was when the newspapers published that the UK would be having a nation wide ban on Santa's grottos in shopping centres. Some fool had assumed that Muslims and other religious groups would be offended to see Christian celebrations strewn across the UK. However, the British muslim council had to publicly state that in fact they had not called for any such action and found it as absurd as most of the other free thinkers in the land. After all, I would not move to Mexico and stop The Day of the Dead celebrations, it is part of why you move to a different country, to live in their culture.
Did political correctness, povery, bad management or social acceptability play its part in the history during and since the Lewisham Riot? If so, how come under social pressure during the 21st century a riot is not under way...oh, wait a minute, what about the 2011 riots? Wasn't that just greedy people looting? Or was it pent up pressure and tension. Not hard to see how the Lewisham riot occured, so let us take a look at what happened during the Lewisham riot in 1977.
Battle of Lewisham 1977
Giving the National front and the National Party a sense of purpose, they pooled more votes during 1976 in elections than the favoured Labour Party. This is when opposition flared up in the shape of the "All Lewisham Campaign against Racism and Fascicm". That was it, 2 extremist groups opposing each other, all they needed was a cause to inflame them, which was provided on 30th May 1977, when police made a dawn raid and arrested 21 Coloured people in connection with muggings and other crimes. These 21 were allegedly a gang that was to be blamed for 90% of the crime in the South London area. The court hearing in June did not go well, with some of the gang attacking police during the hearing and people tring to invade the court area. No suprise then that there was a demonstration in the following July,here starts the tension in the South of London.
2nd of July was the first conflict regarding this issue, between the Lewisham 21 defence commity and the National front. With caustic soda being thrown around, over 80 people were arrested at New cross. The weeks following there was activity on both sides, arrangements were made for the National front to march through Newcross, there were also arrangements being made for their opposition, The ARAFCC among others, had discussed that they would "occupy" the area the National front would march on.
At 11.30 the opposition to the National front all met up at a park in Lewisham called Ladywell fields. Over 5000 people met up and heard the Mayor of Lewisham and other figure heads of the time. They had promised to stick to certain areas but quite a few were persuaded to go down back streets and made their way on to New Cross Road, right in the path of the National Front. Where once there, they threw bottles and other objects at the National Front party. It took mounted Police to destract and push the protestors through side streets and avert Deptford Broadway.
Fast forward 3 decades later and national riots again kicked off, with rumors of the riots starting after the shooting of Mark Duggan, a coloured man that was in police custody when the police shot him. Similarities occur in that Mark Duggan and the Lewisham 21 had criminal ties. Is it really acts of racism that needs defending, or people playing on political correctness? If people rioted then and now about the injustices of being in a different demographic to the mass of society, in a certain country, why was it people of an even smaller minority than British-African died during the riots of 2011? Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir, all lost their lives protecting their areas against scum that rioted and looted through Cities across the UK.
Unfortunately all of this shows that when extremists take over, innocent people suffer, no matter what they think their cause is.