Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2266

The riots showed that the people have power

I am so angry watching the news reporting the riots.

I am a mixed race woman in her 50s and, yes, I am saddened by the injuries and deaths that happened during the supposed riots.

However as far as I am concerned, there will always be deaths in war—and be certain, we are at war.

This is not a race war. Like the 1981 riots, it is a war against poverty, injustice and class.

The press and politicians have called those who have taken part thugs, thieves and yobs.

I say they are angry people fed up of trying to get out of the shit and being stopped every time they make the smallest bit of headway.

The police arrested a huge number of people in days. Yet an average of one person a week dies in police custody and no one is imprisoned for that.

And how can politicians call rioters thieves with a straight face? The bankers, with the permission of politicians, have robbed this country and its people.

They want to control us—everyday people— with fear and violence. Yet when we stand up, they say we are the violent ones.

I think the government is very lucky that the people on the streets were not organised. There could have been a lot more damage to the precious buildings they treasure over our lives.

Us middle aged people have forgotten what it was like being young. We have settled for a second class life because we have believed the politicians.

But the politicians have nothing in common with the people, especially the younger ones.

David Cameron should go and go now.

The riots showed that the people have the power, they just don’t know it.

Esther Tuck, South East London

I do not condone the actions of those who took part in riots last week.

But if courts are sentencing those found guilty of handling stolen goods and theft to two- year prison sentences, what punishment will more serious crimes receive? Life sentences?

Many people have argued that a lack of moral values is at the heart of the riots.

But where is the morality in abandoning the principle of fairness for this “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” approach?

Kathryn Rimmington, Portsmouth

Has anybody been held to account for riots in Iraq and Afghanistan that killed maybe one million people and destroyed whole cities?

Ian Wallace, Sheffield

Capitalism promotes and exaggerates the need to be successful.

We are taught that if we work hard we should achieve success. Yet only a minority can achieve real wealth.

This leaves the majority continuously striving for something that they will never know.

Those who took part in the riots were only acting out what they had been taught, alas, to fight for commercial wealth.

The riots also reflect a lack of emotional belonging. This is perhaps why the courts are full not only of 15-year olds from Hackney, but also wealthy businessmen.

Cara Laver, Bristol

Socialist Worker is correct to say we don’t need more police.

During last week’s riots, a West Yorkshire police officer appeared on television and said he had 10,000 staff—enough to invade a South American country.

Doesn’t sound like a shortage to me.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

There are 1.5 million young people who are “Neets”—not in employment, education or training.

Youth unemployment has reached record levels, fee rises have put university out of reach for many and the Education Maintenance Allowance has been scrapped.

Even if a young person finds a job it is likely to be low paid, without career prospects and temporary. This is a recipe for social explosion.

This is what we have witnessed with the riots. Tragically it is working class people who faced threats to safety and all they have worked for.

A criminal element jumped on the bandwagon, but let us not make the mistake of thinking this was organised criminality.

This was a social explosion from the belly of society. It erupted as a result of the police shooting in Tottenham and spread rapidly as youth found an outlet for their anger, frustration and hopelessness.

In Greece there was a similar scenario in 2008 where police killed a 16-year old boy and the youth erupted. Like here, it indicated the anger at the economic crisis.

As trade unionists and Labour Party members we don’t condone rioting. But as trade unionists and socialists we have a responsibility to reach out to young people and offer an alternative.

Namely, a society based on justice, equality and fairness. This can provide jobs, education, and above all a future to this generation.

Keith Henderson, Clacton Labour Party spokesperson

Know your rights!

Over the coming weeks more people will be arrested in the aftermath of the riots. The police often come to your home between 6-7am. They should immediately tell you what you are being arrested for and caution you.

Do confirm your name and do not resist arrest. You do not have to answer any questions.

They may ask you what you were wearing, where you were on a certain date, or where your bedroom is. The answer to every question is, “I want to see my solicitor.”

You may be taken in a police car to the police station. Officers may strike up friendly conversations: “You didn’t do much, did you?” The answer is, “I want to see my solicitor.”

You will be offered a duty solicitor. You will not get out faster if you don’t get a solicitor. If you talk to your solicitor on the police station phone do not discuss anything.

It is very difficult to stay silent when you are asked questions. But remember, however friendly and plausible any police officer may sound, their only interest is to collect evidence against you.

Name and address withheld

'Supercop' Bill Bratton’s real legacy

I am an unlikely person to write your newspaper a letter, but feel it is important to do so.

I am an ex-Los Angeles police officer and feel the media are not giving the real facts about ex‑chief Bill Bratton.

After the 1992 riot in Los Angeles, murders started to drop every year. But Bratton didn’t become police chief until 2002.

The “broken windows” concept that Bratton talks about has left LA, and all of California, broke. The prisons are full.

In Los Angeles many city workers have been laid off in order to keep up this massive police effort.

Smaller police departments have laid many cops off and entire departments have even closed.

This year, some officers have sued the city over claims that the LAPD has imposed traffic ticket quotas on them. Ticket quotas are illegal in many US states.

Two officers were awarded $2 million in April. Many more are still working their way through the courts.

Name withheld, by email

Rail fares not fair

The public are rightly appalled at rising rail fares. The government might kick up a bit of fuss—to keep face—but the train companies will do it anyway.

That’s privatisation for you. When a service is privatised, it is taken out of the public arena.

We no longer have a say in what it does, or how it does it. The only people with influence are shareholders and politicians.

When an organisation’s only true concern is profit, everything else is an afterthought.

Clive Collins, South London

China’s elite is contradictory

I’m writing regarding Charlie Hore’s article on economic growth during the reform period in China (Socialist Worker, 20 August).

It doesn’t mention the powerful contradictions that emerged within the ruling bureaucracy as a result of the reforms.

Not all sectors of the bureaucracy have benefited from the reforms.

There has been a shift from ideological campaigns towards a performance-based notion of state legitimacy.

This has meant that many officials have experienced anxiety about their relevance in Chinese politics and have been dragged into protest movements.

A socialist analysis has to make sense of these contradictions.

Hong Huar, by email

You can help save Remploy

I am a disabled wheelchair user who used to work for Remploy.

Remploy is the largest and oldest employer of disabled people in Britain. It is a way of life for thousands of disabled workers.

Since I had my employment terminated with Remploy in 2007 I have not found alternative employment, not for want of trying.

The Tories may close all remaining Remploy factories—and put 2,500 people out of work.

Please help bring an end to this madness.

Claire Menzies, by email
Sign the petition at

Our education is not for sale

The US department of justice is suing a for-profit education provider.

The firm, Education Management Corporation, faces charges that it used government funds to pay staff bonuses.

It got more than £6 billion between 2003 and 2011.

The Tories want to hand over universities to private firms here. It will be a disaster.

We have to stop them before it’s too late.

Diane Gallagher, Newcastle

Government lies over cash

The ministry of Defence is wasting £5,000 a day—on private consultants to advise on cost-cutting!

They can also claim various expenses, including £10 for lunch and £90 a night for accommodation.

When government ministers say they’ve got no money, don’t listen to them.

They’ve got loads of money—they just don’t want us to have any.

Jennifer Stuart, Lincolnshire

Do emissions anger aliens?

For all you climate-deniers out there, there’s a new reason to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gases could lead aliens to worry that our society is getting out of control—and they could invade.

This possibility is spelt out in a report by a Nasa scientist in the US.

You have been warned.

Terry Alden, Luton

Pinochet hurt more people

Socialist Worker readers will be aware of the disgusting crimes of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet took power in a coup that deposed left wing leader Salvador Allende in 1973.

He embarked upon a brutal campaign of torture and murder.

Now it seems that more people suffered than originally thought.

A Chilean commission says 9,800 more people were tortured as political prisoners. The total number of recognised victims now stands at 40,000.

The CIA and Western elites backed Pinochet to the hilt. Their disgraceful record shows that they have no right to tell any other country how they should be run.

Pat Bryant, Glasgow

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Article information

Tue 23 Aug 2011, 17:58 BST
Issue No. 2266
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