[The New York Times, the leading imperialist media organizer, reports the events in London and the crisis in Britain in terms which express contempt for the masses in rebellion, and calculations of where this is all going–in terms of the sharpening of battlefronts for the class war which is leaping out of the shadows of “normal” life. All this from the viewpoint of the defenders, and managers, of the existing system. –Frontlines ed.]
By RAVI SOMAIYA and JOHN F. BURNS
August 8, 2011
Sang Tan/Associated Press A shop was set on fire Monday in Croydon, south London. The home secretary said there had been hundreds of arrests.
LONDON — The rioting and looting that convulsed poorer sections of London over the weekend spread Monday to at least eight new districts in the metropolitan area and broke out for the first time in Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, in what was developing into the worst outbreak of social unrest in Britain in 25 years.
By early Tuesday, unrest was also reported by the police in two other major cities, Liverpool and Bristol, and an enormous fire was consuming a large warehouse in the Enfield section of London.
Prime Minister David Cameron, apparently caught off guard while on vacation with his family in Tuscany, reversed an earlier decision not to cut short his holiday in the face of plunging world financial markets and boarded a plane for home to lead a cabinet-level meeting on Tuesday to deal with the turmoil.
For Mr. Cameron’s government — indeed for Britain — the rapidly worsening situation presented a profound challenge on several fronts.
For a society already under severe economic strain, the rioting raised new questions about the political sustainability of the Cameron government’s spending cuts, particularly the deep cutbacks in social programs. These have hit the country’s poor especially hard, including large numbers of the minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.
Together with the inevitable pressures to restore some of the spending cuts, Mr. Cameron and his colleagues have to confront the dark shadow that the rioting has cast on plans for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. That $15 billion extravaganza will have its centerpiece in a sprawling vista of new stadiums and an athletes’ village that lie only miles from the neighborhoods where much of the violence in the last three days has taken place. With the Games set to begin in barely 12 months, Britain will have to satisfy Olympic officials that there is no major risk of the Games being disrupted, or ruined, by a replay of the rioting.
Luke MacGregor/Reuters Police officers in riot gear tried to block a road near a burning car in the northern district of Hackney, in London, where rioting continued for a third night.
Beyond these challenges is the crisis that has enveloped London’s Metropolitan Police, popularly known as Scotland Yard, on which security for the Olympics, and the immediate hopes of quelling the rioting, depend.
Even before the outbreak of violence, the police have been deeply demoralized by the government’s plan to cut about 9,000 of about 35,000 officers and by allegations that it badly mishandled protests against the government’s austerity program last winter and failed to properly investigate the phone-hacking scandal that has dominated the headlines here for much of the summer. The force now faces widespread allegations that it failed to act quickly and forcefully enough to quell the rioting at its outset over the weekend. Continue reading →