Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/413/4694
Rioting in Lozells
THE RIOT and murder in the Lozells area of Birmingham over the weekend were horrific. The attacks on cars, shops and people will do nothing to improve the lives of any section of the community.
The trigger for the rioting was the allegation that an Asian shopkeeper had raped a 14-year-old Jamaican girl but that she was not able to come forward for fear of deportation. A local pirate radio station reported the allegation and organised a demonstration outside the shop where the DJ believed the rape had occurred. That evening the rioting broke out.
Rape is a terrible crime which is condemned by the overwhelming majority of the Lozells community - black, white and Asian. The government should immediately make it clear that, if anyone has been raped and fears deportation, they will not be deported and should be able to come forward.
However, the causes of the rioting go much deeper than this one incident. Twenty years after the Handsworth riots, this area is still one of the poorest in the Midlands. Unemployment is three times the Birmingham average. Pupils from the two largest populations in the area, Afro-Caribbean and Pakistani, leave school with the least amount of A to C GCSE grades.
But this is not the fault of any of the ethnic groups who live in Lozells. Fundamentally, the responsibility lies with British capitalism, which is increasingly incapable of providing decent jobs, housing and education for working-class people in Britain.
Both Tory and New Labour governments have presided over a drive by big business to restore its profits at the expense of working people. The result is a huge increase in the gap between rich and poor. In communities like Lozells unemployment, low pay, and crumbling public services are driving down the living conditions of every section of society.
The only answer is a united struggle of working class people - black, white and Asian - to fight for increased resources.
For more information, see article Sleepwalking to segregation? in the socialist number 412
In The Socialist 27 October 2005: