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Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:17 pm
by Chris P
I have a feeling that the (probable) humour in Des' remark is being unnecessarily bypassed here

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:29 pm
by Jamie Renton
garth cartwright wrote:Hugh, you mention the knee jerk reactions to Starkie's comments. On live TV wasn't probably the best place for him to make his argument. I'm well aware how Jamaican yardie culture has seeped into working class London lad lingo - hear it all the time on the streets here - that "born fi dead" mentality mixing with gangsta rap's "get rich or die trying" and computer games like Grand Theft Auto all feeding into a belief in a hyper-masculinized world where violence is the only way to resolve anything and money is all that's worth believing in. Misogynistic and homophobic and contemptuous of those who can't resolve things via violence, it's a toxic mix.

I can see exactly what you're saying there Garth & think that's what Starkey was probably thinking of when he spoke. But that isn't what he said, he said "black culture" & even went on to say something about not knowing David Lammey was black if you shut your eyes(!) Sorry, that sounds like racism to me, at a time when racism is about the last thing we need. And if that makes me a knee-jerk lefty then I jerk my knee leftly with pride.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:31 pm
by AndyM
Chris P wrote:I have a feeling that the (probable) humour in Des' remark is being unnecessarily bypassed here

Tone of 'voice' always hard to discern online. That's why emoticons are handy, if naff.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:34 pm
by Jamie Renton
Pete & Hugh, please don't stop writing on this forum, your's are some of the finest contributions to this forum & as others have already said, it would be a real shame if you backed off because of (what I took to be) a throwaway wind-up.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:16 pm
by Des
Hugh Weldon wrote:while London burned, where were you? Down at Horseguards watching the beach volleyball.

I think you may be mixing me up with Boris - I'm afraid my influence on such matters is rather limited.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:22 pm
by judith
Ted, thank you for your account. It's the first I've read by someone who lives in an area which was involved and with the experience and observational skills such as yours. I was so surprised by its length and its length alone says a lot, coming from you. I find your account invaluable in my own processing. I may be 5000 miles away and in another country but there's not much that is different anywhere on this planet. That few have commented on your post, it may be that quietly and honestly spoken first hand accounts are rarely commented on. I hope because like me, others are thinking about what was said.

Pete, thank you too for your thoughtful piece. By the way, the one thing I've noticed in these and earlier writings that you and Ted both share is that each of you listens to your children, the youth.

Hugh, actually I don't know what to say, reading this thread. "Loss" comes to mind and it would even a greater loss should you withdraw your words from this forum.

I guess I could have just said, "What Jamie said".

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:24 pm
by Hugh Weldon
After a bit of time to reflect, I can see it may have been Des's idea of a joke. It was just the disproportionate flippant dismissal of somebody we haven't seen for a while, trying to offer serious consideration to a serious issue, that annoyed me. I'd forgotten the previous history and it would have been wiser to simply ignore perhaps.

I still don't have the inclination to respond at length to Pete, which had been my original intention. Garth and Ted have contributed admirable posts which say a lot of it anyway.

Just one point though.


On live TV wasn't probably the best place for him to make his argument

Why not? If there's one thing that's frustrated me as much as anything this week it's been the skirting around and avoidance of 'difficult' issues. Twice in discussions of family and parenting I heard the 'it may not be politically correct to go there' get-out. Thus labelling Starkey (inaccurately) a 'racist' simply closes down the debate and gives an ego boost to your liberal credentials. Don't risk going there. However I think there needs to be a bit more courage and independent thought to engage with issues that the pc liberal consensus has trouble with.

It's not the core issue and not the only issue, but gangsta culture and family are pretty germane. Check out the Mayor of Philadelphia on you tube talking about recent disturbances over there. He's called Nutter, but he's got his head screwed on. And he's black.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:42 pm
by Des
OK I'm a tosser. I admit it. Sorry.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:42 am
by garth cartwright
I went for a long South London cycle this evening. Cops everywhere. Even leafy Crystal Palace. I hate to think this is the future of London but with the Tories who knows? Law & Order always wins votes in bad times so we could have Cameron like Thatcher. What a depressing thought. I just find this entire episode so depressing - feel like I have lost a close friend to sudden, horrible circumstances. Can feel the tension in the air on this beautiful evening.

Jamie, I hadn't watched Starkey, only seen the news headlines, so I watched and you are right - he uses "black" as a catchall label when he should, especially being a historian, be referring to Jamaican Yardie culture and US gangsta rap. And those who make the pornographic violence of computer games and movies. But they are likely not black so outside his argument. But he's a scared, upper middleclass white man grasping at easy blame. The UK's a mess - the best thing I have read so far was Peter Osborne of the Daily Telegraph who looked at the riots as a reflection of the rot in British culture, from Blair lying about Iraq on. Odd to think the Torygraph should be the most astute commentators but they have been very levelheaded - the Guardian has had some good writing alongside absolute nonsense - on Friday they had a commentator claiming that things in the UK for black people in 2011 are worse than in 1981. Back then, he said, we had no black MPs. Now we have a dozen. But they are not really "black" - he didn't use the shameful Uncle Tom term but he implied that as they were not raging black nationalists they were. Wanker. And then on the BBC there was that old criminal Darcus Howe comparing the Clapham looters to the protesters in Damascus. What a mess we are in. Oh, I thought the 2 people who debated Starkey were excellent - must read the Chavs book.

Robert Elms has done good work on BBC London - on his Funky Friday session he played classic US soul from the era when American streets were burning. Best tune: Timmy Thomas' Why Can't We Live Together? Yes, why can't we?

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:12 am
by Jonathan E.
Having just watched the controversial David Starkey piece on the BBC, I think it fair to say he made his case poorly because he attempted to shorthand and rightfully got pulled up for it. The idea of there being a black and only one black culture is about as stupid as the idea that there's a white culture. Having said that, it's a nightmare for me that the whole falling-apart shebang of these days is due at least partially to various ideals I held much more dear several decades ago — pre-rap, the rip-it-up phenom Pete mentioned and subsequent experiments in freedom and sticking it to the man in youth culture. Overall, I'm seeing that the idea of principles is perhaps overrated and what we need are practicalities, things that work — and locking people up and ferocious laws and their enforcement is not going to work. Not in the long term anyway, but obviously just like you can't have people flying airplanes into tall buildings, neither can you have rioting looters all over the place. But how to salve what's setting them off is a tricky question.

But, paradoxically, Dreda Say Mitchell made an impression on me when she said that these rioting youths see the bankers getting away with shit and not being held to account. And, Owen Jones, author of Chavs, is also obviously a smart young mind worth watching and probably reading.

Thanks to all for the input from those there and thoughtful.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:25 am
by Jonathan E.
PS Sorry, I forgot — I share the opinion that David Starkey's comment re David Lammy sounding white is indeed racist.

I can't say it better than this, so here's the rip:
According to Starkey, David Lammy ‘could be white’ because of the way he sounds. Presumably Starkey thinks this because Lammy can speak in grammatically correct English. My black friends come from America, Nigeria, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Russia, Brazil, France, Guyana, just to name a few countries. This is not to mention the many black Britons I know. Without exception, my friends speak English well, even when it isn’t their first language. Do we all ‘sound white’ too? What is it to ‘sound black’ anyway?

Stolen from Katharine Birbalsingh's Telegraph blog at

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:41 am
by Hugh Weldon
The comment about Lammy was indeed unwise and rather ignorant. It just irks that so many people immediately shout 'racist' when they hear something like this, closing down difficult debate. Difficult debate is just what's needed.

I don't think Starkey's got any particular special qualifications to speak on the issue either, other than his recent encounter with contemporary youth on that Jamie Oliver Dream School thing recently. Which was illuminating in some respects, and not only for Mr Starkey. At least he's not just one of those middle class types who laugh at Katherine Tate until her clones are smashing up the local shops. The man who wrote the lyrics to 'God Save The Queen' might have been more insightful.

Interesting to see you quoting Katharine Birbalsingh, Jon, I corresponded with her earlier this year on some educational stuff. Don't go along with everything she says, but she's certainly one person unafraid to tackle some of the more awkward aspects of all this.

Oh I'm sticking around by the way. I wasn't waiting for an apology from Des, but what he says above looks like contrition.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:27 am
by AndyM
Contrition raised to the level of melodrama:

(Sorry Des!)

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:06 pm
by Des
Brenda's got a better voice than me innit.

My last words on this rather over-played subject are ones of light and joy. I'm really surprised we don't get more riots with so many people living cheek by jowl in inner cities - I think it's a tribute to the human race that we generally all rub along quite nicely despite deprivation in many communities. And yes, I was cheered by the response from people affected by the aftermath of the riots - the coming together of communities to clear up the mess. My nephew in Hackney said that for days after, neighbours were actually talking together for the first time.

As a historian, I'm also aware that such acts of criminality are nothing new - my Masters research into working class communities during the blitz revealed widespread looting occurring almost every time the Luftwaffe visited. That's not to condone what's just happened of course, but maybe war and poverty elicit similar desperate or opportunistic behaviours.

I have to admit I've never really liked 'kids' that much and as I get older my understanding of them diminishes. If I had my way, people would be born at age 50. However, I certainly don't think punishing these young criminals by taking away their homes or benefits is the way forward - society at large would suffer even greater levels of crime if that happened.

And despite my liberal credentials I do think the political right have a point about parental discipline - it seems to be lacking in so many families of all classes. In fact it's nice middle-class kids who seem the most obnoxious these days with their 'right-on' parents believing that any kind of restraint of their behaviour is some kind of act of betrayal.

Anyway, I'm off to read my Daily Mail now.

Re: All riot?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:28 pm
by AndyM
Des wrote:In fact it's nice middle-class kids who seem the most obnoxious these days with their 'right-on' parents believing that any kind of restraint of their behaviour is some kind of act of betrayal.

Absolutely. Abso-bloody-lutely.