Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/214/8622
Racist Match That Sparked Growing Anger
LABOUR HAS been quick to provide its knee-jerk solution to the recent inner-city riots; bring out the water cannon. Ignoring the real nature of events, Blair and his cabinet have blamed all the recent riots on 'mindless thuggery'.
This response will provoke even greater anger among Britain's ethnic minority communities.
While the majority of people in those communities would not see burning cars or destroying pubs and shops as the solution to their problems, many also know that the riots were not caused by 'outside agitators', 'left wingers' or sections of Asian youth trying to protect their 'drugs patch'.
Nor was it a case of Asians simply having a go at whites or the police. Indeed, some press reports show acts of courageous bravery by Asians protecting elderly whites in the mayhem.
The events in Bradford, as our reports show, were started by the police's patent refusal to deal with racist abuse and acts of thuggery by far-right Nazis.
This was the match that ignited the accumulated anger that has built up in Britain's inner cities against the New Labour government and the pro-big business agenda it eagerly pursues.
That anger is affecting working-class Asians, Blacks and whites alike. It is partially reflected in the historically low turnout at the election.
The riots are an outpouring of bitter anger at a government that protects the wealthy and allows them to grow ever richer, while it attacks the disabled, those living in poverty, young people, pensioners and every disadvantaged section of society.
Even Thatcher's government in 1981 took notice of the inner-city riots and commissioned the Scarman Report.
The reality in the intervening 20 years however shows that very little has changed and that discrimination and poverty still blights Blacks and Asians in Britain's inner-city areas, which our feature on pages 6 & 7 shows.
As Malcolm X, the American anti-racist Black leader explained: "You can't have capitalism without racism."
Labour's response to the riots is no change, except to bring in more tools of repression sounding just like Thatcher's Tories when they claim it is a "law and order issue".
However, since the 1980s demographic changes in some of Britain's biggest cities have left large sections of alienated and poverty-stricken Blacks, Asians and whites stranded in deprived inner cities.
The Commission for Racial Equality has produced a report on Bradford saying amongst other things that both whites and Asians were critical of efforts to help these areas saying that regeneration processes "forced communities to bid against each other for scarce resources and this creates divisions and resentments."
Increasing selection and segregation in education are adding fat to an increasingly volatile fire.
While there have been some dangerous and divisive aspects to the riots in Oldham and Burnley the events in Bradford were not anti-white riots, despite the press portraying them as race riots.
However, despite the disciplined restraint of the majority of Asian youth in Bradford last Saturday the police's strategy and tactics allowed the still minuscule fascist grouplets to have an effect out of all proportion to their size.
The reason they can have such an effect is because they play on the fears and insecurities building up in inner-city areas and are provocatively organising marches, which are then banned, but still going into the areas on the day of proposed marches throwing out racist abuse and filth unchecked by the police.
The Socialist Party argues that the labour movement, especially the trade unions, needs to urgently organise a massive mobilisation against racism and fascism in the North of England in the autumn.
This will show that wherever the far-right racists and fascists raise their head they will be blocked by huge counter-demonstrations.
But large demonstrations have to be linked with political campaigns to show white working-class communities that they share a common enemy with Black and Asian people - the capitalist system. Such a campaign needs to lead to action to alleviate poverty, bad housing, two-tier education and health services etc. In short replacing this rotten capitalist system with a socialist society.
In The Socialist 13 July 2001: