The Riots in Britain

The biggest surprise for me about the riots and looting which are spreading around British cities is that anyone is surprised by it.  This may be because these days I am an outsider looking in, but to me the sight of delinquent youths running about the streets destroying property, stealing, and attacking people is hardly something new or shocking.  I suppose I first noticed it when I moved to Manchester in 1996, before which I lived in rural west Sussex and before that in rural Pembrokeshire.  Much though I liked Manchester when I was living there (I stayed until 2003), I still consider it the most dangerous, violent city I have ever been to (a list which includes Beirut, Moscow, and Lagos).  True, somebody might whack you around the head in Gorky Park and pinch your wallet so he can buy drugs or vodka.  But you’re not going to get a gang of youths wearing $500 outfits kick the shit out of you so they can video it on their $700 phones and send it to their mates.  And nor is a policeman in Lagos going to cower in his van and try to remember his diversity training if he spots a youth trying to set fire to a shop.  Lagos policemen don’t have vans for a start.  And their diversity training extends only as far as avoiding whacking somebody from a connected family.

Yes, when I lived in Manchester I was staggered by the sheer volume of wanton destruction visited on the city by an underclass of welfare dependents aged between 13 and 25.  Bus stops were smashed on a weekly basis, the buses themselves had the windows scratched, the chairs torn or burned, and the drivers and passengers abused or assaulted.  Nobody would insure property in M14 against theft of household items, and twice I got burgled (once in M14, the other time in M20).  Every student I knew in Manchester got burgled at one point or another.  The streets on a Sunday morning looked as bad as anything I’ve seen in Lagos (though still didn’t smell as much of piss as Paris), and there were easily half a dozen blokes standing outside any given boozer at 2am looking for a ruck.  The newspapers were full of stories of delinquent youths from Manchester’s sink estates, and the courts were stuffed full of the same people. I once had to attend Manchester magistrates’ court for failing to pay a speeding fine (case dismissed with an exasperated wave following the words “I am a student and…”) and the waiting area resembled the ape enclosure in Bristol zoo.  If anything, I’m insulting the ape that wasn’t throwing shit about the cage.  Motor insurance shot up year on year due to thefts and vandalism (leading me to insure my car in Pembroke, hence the speeding notice went to an empty home…), and houses in an area which was not a complete shithole went for a premium of £200k and upwards.  It isn’t only cheap credit that fuelled the house price bubble, it is anybody with any prospects buying their way out of the shitholes which make up most of Britain’s cities.  Me being on about £23k per year at the time, emigration looked an attractive option.  Attractive enough, in fact.

So, the only thing I see different on the news now is that these same delinquents are by pure chance – having spotted an opportunity to do what they do anyway on a grand scale – all acting in unison.  There is no step change in character which has turned the perpetrators from respectable members of the community into rioters and looters, they were always rioting and looting only on a much smaller scale and in a more spread out fashion.  Does anyone other than the dickhead politicians being interviewed on TV really think bins are not set on fire, shops looted, and people duffed up for fun by feral youths every night of the week in each and every one of Britain’s major cities?  The insurance premiums might tell you otherwise.

If you subsidise something you get more of it.  In Britain, delinquent, feral behaviour is subsidised.  What’s more, people will queue up to make excuses for delinquent, feral behaviour to the point that those acting in such a manner will never be held responsible for their actions and never suffer any consequences.  The behaviour you see on the TV now has been actively encouraged in multiple ways for long enough that three or possibly four generations have known nothing but a life of subsidised idleness punctuated with random acts of sex, violence, substance abuse, and criminality.  How is anybody surprised by this mayhem, and struggling for explanations? We had Diane Abbot, some idiot Labour MP, being interviewed last night, speaking in the annoying octave-too-high whine which seems to accompany the self-righteous, waffling on about how these people are struggling in desperate times.  Desperate times?  Life in the UK is so fucking easy that you have a complete underclass able to walk about in designer clothes all night breaking into shops to steal not loaves of bread but iPads, and spend the whole of the next day in bed safe in the knowledge that the roof over their heads and their next 1,000 meals is being paid for by some other mug, probably the bloke whose shop they’ve just looted.  My mother in law told me stories about Russia in the early ’90s, and those were desperate times.  She told me how she had to hold down three jobs, one of which was standing in the road selling Bic lighters for some local mafia thug, in order to provide for her 15 year old daughter.  I never heard about my wife responding to such desperate times by dressing up in an Adidas shell suit, shagging the first retarded herbet who would buy her cigarettes, and proceeding up Nevsky prospekt to put the window of a sports store through and making off with a pair of trainers.  But maybe she neglected to tell me.

I would perhaps be expected to say I give two hoots about what is happening in the UK now, but to be honest, I don’t.  I couldn’t give a stuff.  Enough British people voted for the idiotic policies which have resulted in this mess, and they can bloody well live with it.  I’m glad I left the damned place eight years ago and can say it is nothing to do with me.  At least it eases the embarrassment of having a Nigerian asking me what the hell is wrong with my country.

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17 Responses to The Riots in Britain

  1. The Pedant-General says:

    Amen.

  2. Ai says:

    I don’t usually agree with the things you come out with, but on this piece alone, all past transgressions are forgiven.

  3. wating forgod. says:

    So what’s your alternative for ‘subsidized feral behavior’? A third world system? Off-topic but why does this site look like something from the dark age of the internet?

  4. Olufunmike says:

    This is spot on. I love this write-up.

  5. L says:

    Hmmnn,

    So, I came across your blog today, a friend posted a link on what you think of Lagos. I was appalled and amused at the same time. Really, my first instinct was to be angry, because I am a fiercely proud Lagosian, until I realised that all the things you expressed, I probably felt too, the last time I was in Lagos. Perhaps I would not have expressed my feeling in such stark terms but that’s me.

    Still, you’re privileged and you live the life few Nigerians can only dream about. I do hope you have more pleasant experiences in my city it, it is not all bad.

    There are some nice places, go to the Palms shopping centre, There’s a place called ‘Newscafe’ quite a few expats go there especially when football is showing. The place is also quite nice and clientele is generally upscale.

    Also, check out http://www.happylagosian.blogspot.com the site shows you other nice places you can go.

    I think it’ll be a shame for you to spend all your time cooped up in your compound. Sure Gidi (as the young people call Lagos these day) is not all safe but take a chance.

    I enjoyed your writing, it’s provocative and witty.

    Be safe in Lagos.

    x.

    L

  6. Charles says:

    I have just visited your site for the first time due to a friend’s recommendation and when I finished reading your piece about Lagos, I felt very depressed. I felt you were like the proverbial dog that bit the fingers that fed it. Partly due to the facts therein and admittedly, the deep insults you verted upon our dear Lagos. It’s like being a sane child of a dodgy mother you know, how are you going to prove to the world that I am not insane as you may think? Anyways, you have aptly balanced my pain by your damning verdict on UK and I now officially concede the title “Oyinbo Elenu Apere” to you i.e. “The White Basket Mouth”! Anyways, maybe if you can provide me with the volume of traffic to your site, we can discuss hanging some choice advert ware here. Cheers.

  7. I have just visited your site for the first time because a friend sent me a link about how you’d bad mouthed the UK but now I see you’ve been bad mouthing Nigeria equally, any chance of a link?

    PS Another great post, Tim

  8. gbenga says:

    Haven’t read what you wrote about Lagos and really don’t care about your misgivings…it’s only natural to say stuffs after one terrible experience like a really bad one night stand. I really appreciate your very down-to-earth, thought-provoking views about the riots past and present in UK. After all said and thought I’d think a ground-up revisit of the laws and subsidies of the feral conducts and deliquencies should be reviewed and anyone so inclined should be made to pay in whatever varying degrees for their actions. Lasstly, may I pead you visit Lagos once again, nothing has changed, probably, but just ask before hand where to go and where not, and it’s like that all over the world…you know!

  9. Duffy says:

    A bit off topic but bear with me;

    When I was a younger man, my friend’s father was an attorney for a number of boxers. Among them were the Spinks brothers. On one trip, Michael and Leon were in Manchester and arrived at the hotel in the evening (this is circa 1986). They decided to walk around and see the town. They found a restaurant and then a pub. They stayed there and at closing time decided to walk home. They were accosted by a group of “youths”. Needless to say the whole thing was over very quickly and when the police arrived they were rather chuffed with the result.

  10. Tim Newman says:

    Duffy, the problem is if that had happened after the late 90s, the boxers would have been charged with assault. The police took the side of the criminals a long time ago, which goes a long way to explaining the current situation.

  11. Tatyana says:

    The only item I disagree with you is your belief that in Russia (especially in the “default 90′s!) there were no such gangs terrorizing the populace. You are comparing apples to oranges when you talk about your wife (university-educated woman, as I recall, no?) and some collection of thugs from underclass neighborhood. Believe me, there are plenty of those in Russia. Actually, I’d say there are more of those in Russia than in Britain, and I know to what side I’d bet if were comparing which thugs are more cruel, stupid, drunk and drugged.Don’t forget, Russia has lived through several Afghan campaigns (with accompanying hashish and poppy traffic), add to it Chechnya and other local wars, and more importantly, almost universal lawlessness, nepotism and near-tribal mentality.
    They might not have welfare state in British sense, but their own remnants of socialism are ugly enough for normal people to live with.

    For a reminder – remember Nizhnekamsk? you have only scratched the surface there, believe me.

  12. Tim Newman says:

    Tatyana,

    For sure. My point wasn’t that Russia didn’t have gangs of hooligans, it was that living in desperate times is not an excuse for hooliganism. Yes, my wife is university educated but she wasn’t when she was 15 (did go to a damned good school, though) and her parents were not part of any elite (not even Party members). For sure, they were not part of any underclass, far from it, but they experienced harder times – which cost her father his life, pretty much – than anyone running riot in the UK.

  13. Lesley says:

    Well said

  14. Kene Mezue says:

    Nice blog Tim. Enjoyed your satire on Nigeria…but I hope you have observed that we, in Nigeria, are truly the HAPPIEST NATION ON EARTH…have you wondered why people are almost always grinning from ear to ear despite the widespread poverty? It really beats me too…In the UK, I have hardly ever notice anyone on the streets smile…and even when they try to smile at you in shops and offices, it is soooo cosmetic…

    I read your posts on the London riots…these feral kids are simply the result of the lack of parental and school discipline…why did you guys in the UK stop parents from administering corporal punishment? Why aren’t teachers allowed to yell at naughty student (let alone even beat them when they err). These scenes on TV are the result of a broken society…and we all know it. But I hope it spurs the country to change, and maybe borrow a leaf from African societies on Ubuntu, and child up-bringing…you will never see a large group of kids in Southern Nigeria looting (yea, we have gangs of armed robbers, but not large scale looting)…and I emphasized Southern Nigeria cos in the North, we have the Al-majiri problem – which is probably similar to what you have in the UK now…

  15. Chris says:

    Useless fact about Manchester, told to me by the security officer when I was in Port Harcourt (a decade ago), if you get a chance vist Port Harcourt very interesting city but that is bye the bye.
    We had been discussing security, armed guards in the cars extra car behind when we went out at night, all the normal stuff.
    He mentioned that Manchester was more dangerous than Port Harcourt. They might kidnap you in PH but when the money was paid you’ld likely be released in one piece. In Manchester they’ld murder you for fun; it has a higher murder rate per capita than PH, more violent assaults and more rapes. Manchester is not a safe city, even in its wealthier parts. Suspect large parts of London and Birmingham are the same.

  16. Bobby says:

    Another great (and spot on) post.

    I read several articles about how fast the clubs and bats sold out when the rioting broke out, but no mention of the difficulty obtaining a firearm permit in the UK. Nothing creates criminal uncertainly like a well armed populace. I remember one LA neighborhood in the 90′s where almost every shop was decimated – until the rioters came up against AK-47 fire from a family of Korean shop owners.

  17. The riots are the voice of the voiceless oppressed. The whining British bourgeoisie and reactionary ruling class have only themselves to blame.

    Ешь ананасы, рябчиков жуй,
    День твой последний приходит, буржуй!

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