In the aftermath of the riots that swept London and other cities in England, the Conservative/Liberal Coalition government is combat-ready and avidly planning the imposition of curfew powers covering wide geographical areas. The mere proposition and threat, that consideration should be given to closing down some social networking sites such as Twitter or even Facebook can only be viewed as a step in the direction of a totalitarian and authoritarian state, operating in a totalistic fashion where the regime crushes all autonomous institutions in its drive to seize the human soul".
Prizes are not on offer for guessing what comes to mind: George Orwell’s famous 1984, his most dystopian novel full of human misery, and the experience of one Winston Smith - Big Brother is watching over you and thoughtcrime is illegal.
“It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same - everywhere, all over the world, hundreds of thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same - people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day would overturn the world.” George Orwell, 1984.
And so the Home Secretary Theresa May announced that giving the police further powers to clear streets and establish “no-go areas are under discussion. Such considerations, paved and cobbled and on such a firm surface being laid-down before our very eyes, takes us into a new territorial dominion.
When I first read Orwell’s 1984 way back in the early 70s I thought that the novel was a bit far fetching and would never happen here in Britain the home of so-called Parliamentary Democracy - Just how wrong can you ever get it. Then again I have been wrong about many things in my life, such as I would never imagine that Parliament would ever be under siege and surrounded by our students whilst our police destroyed in the eyes of many, any respect or vestige of impartiality and the treatment of different views or opinions equally and fairly; a tincture of condescension that has indeed disappeared in the minds of many and for ever.
Such new police state measures are being proposed as police forces continue to hunt down anyone accused of involvement in the disturbances. Nationally, more than 3,000 people have been arrested. In London, the Metropolitan Police have made 1,802 arrests with 1,032 and still climbing of people charged. Many have been sent to prison, often for the pettiest of offences.
My own opinion of what others think, based on talking to many people in and around Canning Town, is not what the newspapers or the media in general would like us to believe; many don’t agree with the looting and disgraceful needless violence, but there breathes a view that this was a coming for a long time, and why should we be surprised or even be in electric shock?
It is no coincidence then that neighbourhoods where the accused live have got poorer between 2007 and 2010”. This correlates precisely with the 2007/08 global financial crisis and the resultant deep recession in Britain. As the banks in Britain were bailed out to the tune of more than a trillion pounds, the then Labour government began a series of public spending cuts and freezes, which have now been escalated by this government.
Not for nothing is our press known as the gutter press, and many now know that the stain on one newspaper that broke into the voicemail of a murdered teenage girl has indeed stained all newspapers, that relationship once held and controlled by powerful press barons is probably on its way out, a new way of collecting and finding news is developing and has been for some time by way of the Internet and Social Media; hardly any wonder that the establishment want it under control even if that means using the same tyrannic methods as China.
It is worthwhile pondering, that the Internet has turned the news industry upside down, making it more participatory, social, diverse and partisan, this is good and will be good for the class struggle ultimately.
So whilst I am contemplating the medium of the media in all its many forms and its use of containing decent; and whatever you think of these riots, they were a form of decent no matter how disapproving we may be of them, not being socially or conventionally correct; refined or virtuous. I would like to shine a light on my own councils contribution to the class war being waged against young working class people by this Tory led government, and in particular the use Newham council has made of its own widely distributed publication ‘thenewhammag’ to back the the governments drive to criminalise a whole generation.
As the title indicates a council magazine that is very glossy and produced every two weeks or so to promote the councils work and I suppose bring about a sense of community conscious awareness. In my council block most people leave it on top of the mail box, whether that is an indication of anything I don’t really know; but most of the time it seems to be promoting the elected Mayor Sir Robin Wales, that is my own assessment. I have no view on whether the magazine is good or bad because I don’t think it really matters in the great scheme of things, but no doubt Sir Robin Wales has his own elaborate and systematic plan of action being a repetitive career politician earning over £80,000 a year.
Just days after the riots the council produced and published a special CCTV addition ‘Full force Bringing the vandals to justice’.
The opening pages carried two messages one from Sean Vickers acting borough commander and Mayor Wales, who said that the disorder occurred in London's poorest communities; areas that face youth unemployment and massive cuts; and failed to say anything about the cuts he is making to services in Newham, but instead praising the actions of the police and shopkeepers, the addition included CCTV images of people allegedly involved in the disturbances, but what I found more worrying is the threat that the council wold evict anyone from council or social housing if they were involved in the riots.
On Friday, Housing minister Grant Shapps proposed legislation that would allow those convicted to lose their homes in London, no matter where a so-called “crime” was committed. Under current legislation, local boroughs in the capital can only evict a person if a crime is committed in the borough where they live.
At the end of the day, any move to evict those people or their family for being involved in the riots has to be seen as being wrong by the Labour movement, it is a step in the wrong direction towards Orwell’s 1984, and should be resisted.