I have lived through riots in the 1980's. I'm a child of the Thatcher generation. I was at college in Uxbridge during the mid 1980's. I remember me and my friends sitting in a small college room listening to riots in nearby Southall and being very scared. One of my friends had a work placement where she worked for the law firm who were representing PC Blakelock, who was killed during riots at the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham in 1985.
We never condoned violence, but we slightly understood it. We could see why those people in Tottenham felt they had been misreprsented when one of their community had died after the result of a police raid. We were students after all. We were supposed to understand this sort of stuff.
I've been on student marches. One of the proudest moments in my life was taking part in a Anti Rascism march and walking nearby the Jam's Paul Weller & his ex-wife DC Lee (see video below). I loved Ken Livingstone's free GLC concerts like Rock Against Rascim. It was good to see a revival of these in recent years.
Telling lines here - "The competition's is a colour TV We're on still pause with the video machine That keep you slave to the H.P." - maybe he should update with Flat Screen & DVD.
I went on more student marches. Anti apartheid, demonstrations outside Barclays' Banks, feminist conferences, I went to several speeches which Ken Livingstone, when he was leader of the GLC, gave at our University, he was an inspiring speaker, he was a Londoner he spoke about issues that I believed in. My last march as a student was against the introduction of student loans. I was just about to graduate so I was OK but I knew that if student loans had been introduced when I was about to go to University. I probably wouldn't have gone. My life would have taken a completely different path to it has today.
As an adult I became less Political and more political. I started blogging in 2003, but can't really remember anything happening with a political edge to my posts. I had a broken leg during the marches protesting against the Iraq war in 2004. But my ex-husband went along and said he'd never seen so many people on a march before.
Fast forward to 2005. (Me & ex-hubby divorced in October that year). The July bombings made me angry again. I felt sad, depressed, shocked and appalled that 52 innocent Londoners had been killed just from trying to go to work. I blogged every half hour or so about that horrific day. I got onto the Tube the next day to take pictures of the ghost town. I was determined not let terrorists dictate how I would travel around my city.
Fast forward to 2008, the year of the London Mayoral elections. If you've been reading this blog from then it will come as no surprise to you to know that I'm not a big fan of Boris Johnson. My comments about Ken Livingstone above will perhaps explain why I was so sad when Boris Johnson came into power. There's many blog posts which go into that in more detail. If you've seen the T shirts that have been sitting in my right hand side bar since 2008, you know the story.
Basically I understood why Londoners felt that they had to protest about certain issues. I could see the cause. I could see why people got angry and how that sometimes led to pent up violence. I never condoned violent protests but could see why people might do it.
Last night I saw a completely different type of rioting in London. People's homes were being attacked and looted. People were doing this in broad daylight in some instances. I was watching virtually children throwing rocks & burning out cars. I was watching riots taking place in Ealing only six miles away from where I live, a very leafy part of London. Diners were getting robbed in Michelin starred restaurants right on Cameron's doorstep. The London where you don't imagine people have the issues and feelings of powerless that they might have in Tottenham, where the riots started in the small hours of Saturday morning.
I have no solutions. I have only shock, horror and a slight edge of fear. I have no idea when this inexplicable behaviour will stop. I have no idea how it could have happened in the first place. This is a London that could possibly be changed forever.