Category Archives: Riots

Problem family on the cards

Imagine this. A middle-aged man who, forty years ago, was removed from his family at the age of 7, sent to one “approved school” after another, the last with a reputation for violence, at which he was a troublemaker and learned to take illegal drugs. After he left school he joined a gang of thugs who regularly got drunk and violent. He straightened up, more or less – got married, had children, one severely disabled for whom he claimed benefits: he ran a chain of nightclubs that specialised in getting people very drunk at a cut rate. He became leader of a powerful organisation with strong links to crime, accepting large financial gifts from people who made their money in very shady ways. Despite this, he lives in state-owned housing and claims more than thirty thousand a year. A few months ago, he and his wife were out drinking and abandoned their young daughter in the pub when they went home, and still more recently, one of his close associates was convicted and jailed* for swearing at police officers. This is a problem family.

Right?
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Filed under Benefits, Poverty, Riots, Supermarkets

“Amusing side-effects of today’s results”

After Aidan “Nazi stag party” Burley had to sit through “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”, he tweeted:

This evening at the Olympics stadium the three British gold medallists were a picture of the British multiculturalism that Aidan Burley and the Daily Mail had decried. Published on the Mail Online only a few hours after the Opening Ceremony came to an end, Rick Dewsbury wrote:

“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.
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Filed under Disability, In The Media, LGBT Equality, Olympics, Racism, Riots, Women

The Metropolitan Police are institutionally racist

Mark DugganA year ago today, an armed Metropolitan police officer shot Mark Duggan in the chest and killed him. There was a gun in the cab but Duggan was not holding it and the gun had not been fired. [Evidence from the inquest: there is no evidence the gun was in the cab at the time the police caught up with him. The only shots fired were from police guns: Duggan was unarmed when he was killed.]

Our mission: Working together for a safer London

Duggan’s parents found out that their son had been killed by the police from a newspaper headline.

Our values: Working together with all our citizens, all our partners, all our colleagues:

The police who had killed Duggan lied: They claimed there had been an “exchange of fire”.

We will have pride in delivering quality policing.

Metropolitan Police confront bleeding protestersTottenham police station refused to meet with the peaceful delegation of protesters come to ask questions about the police killing of Duggan. Instead, they sent out a squad with riot shields.
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Constable Savage

On Thursday 4th August 2011, the Metropolitan Police shot Mark Duggan in the chest and killed him. The police story at the time was that Duggan had fired on them: a story later confirmed to be false. Having killed Mark Duggan, the police do not appear to have made any attempt to contact his parents to let them know he was dead until Friday: his mother discovered the shooting from a newspaper headline.

Mark Duggan

Since 1990, 1433 people have died in police custody or after police “contact” – such as Simon Harwood’s baton knocking Ian Tomlinson to the ground – and not one police officer has been convicted of a criminal offense. Continue reading

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Filed under Olympics, Riots

Our constitution, July 2012: Public ethics

“Code of Conduct / Public Ethics”

There are, according to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, seven principles of public life – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.

I have to say – having taken part in many protests in Edinburgh over the years – that I have never felt afraid of Lothian and Borders Police. I warily arranged a phone contact before going to the SPUC OFF protest, because I did not know for sure that SPUC would stay non-violent and away from us and I wasn’t confident that the police would necessarily pick out the prolife aggressors over us feminist hippy weirdos with our hand-painted signs: but I was sure that so long as no one started any aggro, Lothian and Borders Police would simply allow both sides to have our peaceful protest. And I was very glad they were there at the BNP protest at Meadowbank.

But I have felt afraid on several protests in London – because I was part of a large crowd engaged in peaceful public protest, and the Metropolitan Police seemed by that to assume I was the enemy. They did not seem to regard any part of the crowd of protesters as the people whom it was their obligation to protect. We were, at best, there by their tolerance: and I only felt at risk in any crowd when I saw the Met Police in their riot gear.

I heard by unsubstantiated rumour that when the Metropolitan Police offered to send a detachment to Scotland to “help” police the G8 protest in 2005, the Scottish police forces gave the Met a joint dubious look, muttered “aye, that’ll be right”, and politely declined the offer, on the grounds that they wanted to keep the peace, not stir up trouble.

The UK Committee on Standards in Public Life was set up in October 1994 and issued its first report in 1995, under the chairmanship of Lord Nolan. It was established in order to investigate concerns about the conduct of members of parliament, after allegations that MPs had taken cash for putting down parliamentary questions. The Committee Report set out seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. The ‘Nolan reforms’ established a new post of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (see ombudsman) whose job was to maintain the Register of Members’ Interests and investigate the conduct of MPs; to set up a House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges; and to set down a Code of Conduct for MPs. In 1998 the Committee issued a report on the funding of political parties, which rejected calls for state funding. — Alistair McMillan, Oxford Dictionary of Politics

There is a Ministerial Code, which is – we discovered with Jeremy Huntharder to break than the Enigma Code. Apparently the unwritten “constitution” of the UK requires ministers to be accountable to the Prime Minister, not to anyone like the “independent” adviser on the ministerial code:

The current holder of this well-paid and undemanding sinecure, Sir Alex Allan, tried to convince the select committee that he would be proactive and would not be sidelined.

Giving evidence, he said he would quit if he were marginalised, and promised not to be anyone’s “poodle”. He even came up with proposals for how he could conduct inquiries more quickly than his predecessor, Sir Philip Mawer. But he was clear that the prime minister had no plans to change the fundamental tripwire: that only the prime minister could ask him to conduct an inquiry.

Arguably, constitutional propriety requires ministers to be accountable to the prime minister, and not to a Whitehall bureaucrat. But it is notable that neither the cabinet secretary nor the prime minister have been keen to pass any issue to the independent adviser. Indeed, David Cameron has never referred a single case, making one wonder how Allan spends his days.

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Filed under Corruption, Elections, Justice, Riots, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Olympic spending 2012

David Edgar wrote five years ago:

Take care. In reading this article, you may be in receipt of stolen goods. In fact, the organising committee for a certain upcoming sporting event has decided it would be “disproportionate” to prosecute the author of a book called Olympic Mind Games for breach of copy-right. But, under no less than two acts of parliament, it could if it wanted to.

When it discovered that Robert Ronson’s children’s science-fiction novel was to be published, the organising committee for the previously mentioned happening sent him an email asking that he should use neither the O-word nor the expressions “London 2012, or 2012 etc” in the title. The committee was able to do so under statutes passed in 1995 and 2006, which in effect turn all the elements of its title into a trademark.

As Fleet Street Fox reminded us last week, back in 2005 the Olympics was going to cost us £2bn.

wo years later it was upped to about £9bn and a year after that the bottom fell out of the world financial markets.

This was of course no reason to scale back, and today the costs are around £12bn with a strong likelihood that with police, security and transport costs the final total will be nearer £24bn.

To put that into perspective that’s 800million trips to the local leisure centre for a £3 swim. It’s 240 hospitals, roughly, or 20m nurses on a starting salary of £12,000.

This Thursday, according to the ancient traditions of a bygone regime Continue reading

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The judiciary is playing Daily Mail politics

On 8th August, Gordon Thompson was with a group of rioters who broke into Reeves Furniture Store, Croydon. While they were there, he stole a laptop. As they left, he was heard to say: “Let’s burn the place”, and asked, “Who’s got a lighter?” Someone handed him a lighter, he lit it, and set fire to a sofa in the window display.

Furniture is flammable. The whole building burned to the ground. Thompson was arrested when he was identified from a picture on the front page of the Croydon Advertiser. He claimed he was planning to turn himself in: he initially denied arson but in court he pleaded guilty to burglary and “arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered”.

That crime – burning a 19th-century business to the ground – was one of the most spectacular crimes of the London riots last August. Continue reading

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