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If there’s no future, how can there be sin?

Posted on August 07, 2011 by

Let's make something clear from the off. I have absolutely no idea whether Mark Duggan deserved to be shot dead or not. If the widespread but as-yet-unconfirmed reports that he fired a gun at police are true, he's certainly got nobody but himself to blame. (EDIT: It looks very much as though they're not.)

We live in a time when the police – and especially the Metropolitan Police – will kill you for getting on a tube train or for just going about your normal everyday business somewhere in the loose vicinity of a protest march, so pointing a gun (or even something that might look a bit like one) at them would be pretty much the textbook definition of asking for it.

Inner-city youths who speak Jafaican and think they live in a gangsta-rap video aren't a demographic I have a lot of natural empathy with either. But the enormously predictable outpouring of handwringing ("blah blah never any excuse for rioting blah blah") about the violence that erupted in Tottenham at the weekend misses the point spectacularly, and plays right into the hands of those who are currently engaged in stealing our country from us.

The most remarkable aspect of the riots is how recently they were foretold. Just one week beforehand, the Guardian carried a piece on cuts in Haringey, the London borough which encompasses Tottenham. It spoke of how the Coalition government's swingeing axe on public services had resulted in the mass closure of youth clubs in the area (described by one academic as an "annihilation"), throwing thousands of already-disadvantaged and poor young people out onto the streets with nothing to do except cause trouble.

These cuts are only the beginning of the punishment of the poor for the crimes of the political and financial classes who have ruled the UK for the last three decades, and I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about the carnage that's about to befall the public sector – the chances are you can see it already in your own community, whether it's in the form of closed libraries or voluntary organisations who've packed up through the withdrawal of municipal funding or whatever.

The chilling thing about the Coalition's austerity measures, though, is that they're a one-way street. It doesn't need a cynic to see that the attack on public services is one the Tories have been waiting many years for an excuse and an opportunity to undertake. Even if they lead to an economic recovery – something that looks less and less likely with every passing moment – can you picture the day when George Osborne says "Okay, that's that all sorted out, now let's restore the funding to youth clubs in Tottenham", rather than, say, finally getting on with abolishing inheritance tax for the rich?

Politics in Britain used to operate like a pendulum, swinging from left to right on a roughly 10-year cycle that had its problems (like incoming governments spending their first couple of years undoing the actions of their predecessors) but at least ensured the country never lurched too far to either extreme. New Labour destroyed all that, and now the pendulum is broken and lopsided, tethered to the right of the spectrum. Everything we let the Coalition throw on the public-services bonfire now, we lose for a generation – or perhaps forever. Because who can we vote for who'll bring it back?

And in that situation, when the comfortable middle classes react with boilerplate rent-a-quote fury to the rioting of the disenfranchised, the only rational response is "What else are they supposed to do?"

Under the neoconservative capitalism practiced by both Tory and Labour governments over the last 30 years, the poor and working classes saw their position get steadily worse even when the economy was booming. Now that the economy is a disaster zone and the chickens of unlimited credit are coming home to roost with a vengeance, it's the poor who're going to bear the brunt of it. And if they don't want to accept that role meekly and obediently, what are their options?

Peaceful protest doesn't work. The best it can hope for is to be ignored, as when the biggest protest in national history – that against the war in Iraq – had precisely no effect on anything. At worst, the police will provoke violence with intimidatory tactics, use that violence to justify brutal reprisals, and the justice system will hand down draconian sentences for trivial offences and devote vast amounts of resources to vindictively prosecuting entirely non-violent action. Sometimes they'll even drag brain-damaged casualties to court to accuse them of damaging police truncheons with their heads.

So when democracy can't help you (or isn't interested in trying), and protesting peacefully achieves nothing except getting you kettled and beaten up and thrown in jail, what's left?

It seems unlikely that events in Tottenham this weekend were very closely linked to the death of Mark Duggan. If not him, some other spark would have lit the kindling. Britain is undergoing the final stages of The Great Division, a process started by Margaret Thatcher and enthusiastically continued by Tony Blair, whereby society was deliberately and knowingly divided once and for all into haves and have-nots, defined by property ownership.

The fate of the latter is to be forced further and further out of main population centres by rising rents and prices and cuts to housing benefits, condemned to get up at 5am every day and spend two hours travelling from their shared home to a no-rights service-sector McJob (or more than one, or if they're even unluckier a compulsory workfare placement) paying a sub-living wage, getting home at 9pm too exhausted to do anything but collapse in front of mind-numbing TV and look forward to another day of misery. Meanwhile, the property-owning majority (who manage to hold onto their jobs) will continue to sail through the global economic crisis largely unscathed, enjoying the benefits of record low interest rates as they pay off their mortgages.

If the left thinks the austerity drive will eventually unite the population in anger and sweep the Tories from power it's horribly mistaken, because these people will fight tooth and nail to stay in the upper tier, above the terrifying seething pits of poverty. The right-wing press has been feeding them poison about the poor for years – they're all welfare cheats, living on benefits in houses you couldn't afford – and they will damn the poor to hell to protect their own relative prosperity.

The kids in Tottenham can see their future. It's that of a neo-feudal slave-labour underclass, with rapidly-closing escape hatches that dwindle in number every day, and with what little they have now being taken away from them to feed the rich, because a capitalist economy only works – CAN only work – if the rich keep getting richer and the poor get poorer. (Next time you see someone on the news talking about "growth", that's what they mean.) Blair and Brown's perverted, sick mockery of Labour disguised the truth for a few years with borrowing, to finish Thatcher's work by ensuring the new middle class grew large enough to become self-perpetuating, but now even the pretend money has run out.

This wasn't like the tuition-fees protests, where people gathered from all over the country to make their voice heard in the centre of power, and where those who wanted to use the event to make trouble had plenty of time to plan it. This was people smashing up their own neighbourhood, and that's something you only do when you're desperate and out of options.

The poor have nobody to vote for. Nobody speaks for them in the halls of democracy. Their futures have been sold out from under them in the form of a crippling debt burden, PFI bills and unaffordable education (whether through tuition fees or the loss of EMAs). They have no reason to believe in a better tomorrow, and no means to influence it. They've been left to rot, and vilified as feckless scroungers into the bargain. Before you condemn them, answer this question: what do they have left but bottles and stones?

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74 to “If there’s no future, how can there be sin?”

  1. No Name says:

    It's the New World Order. Might as well get used to it and brew yourself a cup of tea. Assuming you can afford the electricity to heat it, and buy the tea before Goldman Sachs' speculators get their hands on it.
    Meanwhile, latest reports suggest that the bullet which lodged in the radio of one of the officers interviewing Duggan was, in fact, police issue (see 7.35pm, in the Guardian's live blog here: Make of that what you will. A Menezes-shaped hat, perhaps.

  2. Captain Caveman says:

    Blimey, another apologist rant excusing – and romanticising – the dispicable antics "the poor" as you define them, when in fact it's just a bunch of mindless, lazy thugs looting shops for fancy new trainers, the 'something for nothing' generation. That's about as far as close to a mandate or cause as we're going to get; ironically crass consumerism.
    I'm betting I know at least as much about being poor as you, or they for that matter. The generations of 'ordinary' people before me knew a darn sight more than I did. Thing is though Stuart, *we* did something about it – we studied in night school (as opposed to, say, playing endless, useless hours on entirely useless, self-indulgent, Walter Mitty-esque computer fantasy games, carving out pretend, virtual roles for our avatars instead of real ones for our real selves). We worked in shitty, acutely underpaid jobs to try and get a leg up in life, 'enjoying' a fraction of the standards of living as today's so-called 'underclass', who in the main do absolutely nothing to help either themselves and most certainly anyone else, often quite the reverse through criminality and gangs.
    I'm all for helping people who would help themselves – but these people are the very opposite of that, and people like you and journos working at The Guardian continue to make pathetic excuses for them. Still, I suppose that's the ultimate result of a lousy, sub Third World education, delivered at huge expense to the rest of us.
    This whole sick, lazy, 'something for nothing' culture has pretty much done for this country. If I were to sum it up in one sentence, it would be this: 'There is no pride anymore'.

  3. Irish Al says:

    If I was airing a grievance with my lot in life by using rocks and petrol bombs I'd be down at the Houses Of Parliament doing it, not liberating stuff from Currys via armpit express. That's only reinforcing your own stereotype.

  4. says:

    "widespread but as-yet-unconfirmed reports"

    Ah, yes, the traditional "leak blatant lies to the media knowing that they'll be reported as gospel, but any corrections will be months away and then ignored" strategy returns.  Even if he had shot at the police, who in their right mind would believe the met when they claimed it?
    This is, of course, why they spend so much time covering for tabloid crime – they need the tabloids to print their blatant lies uncritically and spread them far and wide.

  5. Captain Caveman says:


  6. Jon says:

    How do I join the firearms squad? I'd happily shoot a few of those hooded twats, just for waring their jeans halfway down their arses.

  7. RevStu says:

    "Thing is though Stuart, *we* did something about it"

    …through options which have largely been taken away now. We know you signed on for a fortnight in 1983, love. You can't keep dining out on it forever. Things have changed, and if you want to turn a blind eye to that then nothing I can say will stop you.

    Of course people nicked stuff. That's what happens if you're poor and angry and the opportunity is offered on a plate.

    "This whole sick, lazy, 'something for nothing' culture has pretty much done for this country."

    Indeed it has. Those bankers with their multi-million bonuses for wrecking the economy and their massive tax-avoidance, eh?

  8. RevStu says:

    "If I was airing a grievance with my lot in life by using rocks and petrol bombs I'd be down at the Houses Of Parliament doing it"

    And look what would happen if you did.

  9. Captain Caveman says:

    But you *do* make a valid point though, albeit inadvertently – yes, I did sign on for a fortnight (in 1985, actually), before taking an incredibly shitty, ultra low paid job at the local Spar garage, and could then add 'cleaning toilets' to my corporate CV.
    'Things have changed'… what, so there are no colleges, doing NVQ and other courses, many of them free of charge even to the working, let alone unemployed? And there are no public libraries, bursting with resources far beyond my wildest dreams back in '85 or whenever? And of course, there were loads of jobs and the streets were paved with gold back then, at the heyday of the Thatcher government in the midst of an appalling post-Labour/Unions/Industrial hangover recession. And funnily enough, my then girlfriend and I were told that we'd have to wait at least 3 years for a Council house, whereas now they are giving away brand spanking new 4-bed flats in London.
    Oh no, that's right, they weren't. I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times: many of us have had it every bit as hard as you and most certainly these scum, if not more, with at least as bad an 'opportunities backdrop' and you, and they. But we have *pride*.
    I'm sure you purport to sneer at the achievements of the ordinary working class guy or gal – Thatcher's children if you like – who've got up off their arse, disbelieving that the world owes them a living, and have carved something – however modest – out for themselves, off the sweat of their brow, enduring abstinence, hardship and parsimony along the way – but heads held high. I'm fairly confident, however, that deep down you're as jealous as hell.

  10. RevStu says:

    Sigh. I suppose it's too much to imagine that you might have actually read the piece and some of the sources linked before going off on Standard Cavey Kneejerk Rant #4.

    Colleges? So you haven't noticed the abolition of EMAs, then, forcing thousands of poor young people out of education?

    Libraries? Tell me you're joking, because only an absolute cretin could have failed to notice the absolute carnage being perpetrated right now on the country's libraries.

    Shitty low-paid jobs? Well, we've been here before, haven't we? 2.5m unemployed, another million coming on top of that as ATOS "Healthcare" boots the invalids onto the streets, tens or hundreds of thousands more in imminent public-sector redundancies, and roughly 0.3m jobs for them all to do. What are the jobless to do, share one job between 12 of them?

    "whereas now they are giving away brand spanking new 4-bed flats in London"

    Oh dear.

    "the ordinary working class guy or gal – Thatcher's children if you like"

    Yeah, because nobody ever worked hard before Thatcher. The difference between the pre-Thatcher world and the post-Thatcher one is that in the old one, an honest day's work would get you a living wage and job security. Now – unless you have a worthless City job inventing imaginary money – the harder you work the more shittily you get treated. Low-paid jobs have no security and no prospects, and fall further behind a liveable income (and therefore the chances of self-improvement) with every passing year.

    "I'm fairly confident, however, that deep down you're as jealous as hell."

    Then, as with so many things, you're horribly wrong on multiple levels.

  11. Anonymous X says:

    'Things have changed'… what, so there are no colleges, doing NVQ and other courses, many of them free of charge even to the working, let alone unemployed?
    Funnily enough, my local college cannot even afford to give concessionary prices (let alone "free of charge", which was never the case) to claimants of JSA or ESA. These are courses that working people would struggle to pay for, let alone people who are struggling to feed themselves.
    Even if someone works his way up from nothing and excels academically, he or she will be hit by the brick wall of £9000/year university fees (let alone the living costs). Social mobility through education is dead, and all conservatives can do is blame the '70s closure of Grammar schools as the eternal evil.
    And funnily enough, my then girlfriend and I were told that we'd have to wait at least 3 years for a Council house, whereas now they are giving away brand spanking new 4-bed flats in London.
    Pure fantasy. This, and social housing as we know it is set to be obliterated by the ConDems, with the elimination of lifelong tenancies, further increasing instability and decreasing living conditions for the poorest Britons.

  12. Captain Caveman says:

    DELETED BY REVSTU: Sorry, I tried to turn this unreadable car-crash of dark-grey-on-black formatting into something readable, but all it did was destroy subsequent comments and I’m not spending all day wading through it. It hasn’t been censored – post it again without all the formatting bollocks and it’ll be published. If you don’t have the copy any more, I’ve saved the formatted mess – I’ll email it to you and you can reconstruct it from that.

  13. Captain Caveman says:

    Pure fantasy.
    Except it really isn't. I was walking around the building site concerned where hundreds of brand spanking 2, 3, 4, even 5 bedroom flats are given over to 'social housing' as rentals in London, one of many such sites. These flats had en suite bathrooms, fitted wardrobes, well appointed kitchens, dining rooms, very nice terraced balconies overlooking the Thames and all the very latest energy saving features, underfloor heating.

  14. RevStu says:

    Rentals for how much?

  15. Captain Caveman says:

    Nowt, if the State is paying for the lot anyway.

  16. Captain Caveman says:

    LOL, I've binned it now. Oh well, you've heard it all before. 🙂

  17. RevStu says:

    "Nowt, if the State is paying for the lot anyway."

    Sigh. Why am I not surprised you said that? I'd be amazed if the new capped Housing Benefit covered the rent on the sort of place you describe, but feel free to identify it and we can check.

  18. Patrick says:

    When this kind of thing happens I always end up having a debate with myself about the real reasons people are rioting. It's a little hard to tell if people are reacting to the (quite possibly justified) shooting or if government cuts are really the issue. Of course asking the rioters to turn in a manifesto prior to going out and smashing windows isn't likely to catch on.

  19. RevStu says:

    I've tweeted this already today, but if anyone missed it there are some very interesting numbers in it, especially when taken along with the Resolution Foundation stuff linked in the feature:

  20. Tom K. says:

    I’m a sixth-form college teacher and attempting-to-be trainee Educational Psychologist, and I can tell you first-hand that education is very rarely designed to help the poor achieve.

    There are a whole range of strategies used to limit the achievement of a poor child in our educational system, but let me just point this out: in a school in a deprived area, let’s say 10% are seen to have certain needs and get extra help for them. In a nearby school in a better area, with supportive families sending ‘bright’ kids, 20% might get help. But, shockingly, a majority of the kids in the deprived school would be classified as needing help if they were in the ‘bright’ school.

    What you do is you start off with different rules for the poor and, when they turn out different, start applying the same rules for everybody. Hey ho, “we’re all in it together”.

  21. RevStu says:

    "We worked in shitty, acutely underpaid jobs"

    "There are more than 50 people for each unfilled job here, 10% more people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance this year than last."

    What do the other 49 do?

  22. Captain Caveman says:

    I went through all that at length in my last post, now lost, thanks to some tiresome formatting issue or other. Can't be arsed going through it all again, sorry.
    In a nutshell, there are plenty of opportunities in this country for people who are on their uppers, most especially young, fit people. In my own case, I spent a few years at night school (the local tech), doing worthwhile studies with a view to gaining better, qualified employment (as opposed to some self indulgent shite), which has been an option for everyone else since the 25+ years since I was last there, in fact more so. I also augmented this study with regular trips to the reference library in the crummy little town I grew up in, let alone London and its massive library resources. When I got made redundant a second time, I started my own little business whilst still a teenager. Whilst this was, ultimately, a failure (in commercial terms), it was at least a technological triumph, kept me off the dole for 2 years during a recession and I left no debts unpaid, although I did have to pay weekly for quite some time off my paltry wages (lol, can you imagine kids doing that now? It'd be a case of 'spin on it mate').
    I don't mind failure if people at least have a go and I NEVER look down on anyone who has the shittiest, most menial job, because I was there myself for one and if we all sat back and gave up, we would be nowhere. This is one of the richest countries in the world and the opportunities that exist here, most of the rest of the world's young people would kill/die for, in fact some of them do.
    These kids who wrecked Tottenham, destroying hard won businesses and property as they went, as well as hurting people – their very peers – for some new trainers or whatever, deserve nothing but our abject contempt. Your making excuses for them just makes me sick.
    Oh, and as I said previously, this 1950s, 60s and 70s 'Golden Era' that you love to romanticise about Stu? LoL. Yeah, there were enough jobs to go around back then, but most of these were not 'jobs' that you, and most certainly the people whom you speak of would actually do *now*. Most of them were appallingly low paid, working in awful conditions – be it a hot, dangerous factory or mine – few people could afford to buy their own house. I look at the council estates where I grew up, and here up north for that matter, and there are brand spanking cars parked outside (including BMWs and Audis FFS), caravans, houses chock full of new leather suites, en suite bathrooms, plasma TVs, granite worktopped kitchens with halogen hobs, freezers not that much smaller than my first bedsit. Feck me, my father – a *hugely* skilled toolmaker of 25 years' standing, including a 7 year apprenticeship, working all hours on the shop floor, up to his arse in swarf, lathe coolant and grinding dust, could only afford a 20-year old Austin 1100 when I was a kid…. and he spent every weekend under the bonnet, Haynes Manual in (oily) hand! And it was the same right across my street, throughout the estate, and no-one ever went on holiday abroad or dined out… this was all only 30 years ago, back in the very early 80s, let alone the 50s. My old man, bless him, an Eastern European immigrant who came here with nowt at the same age as these rioters (17), despite working in all that heat and filth – still wore a shirt and collar on the shop floor every day. Now that, my friend, is *pride*.
    The likes of The Guardian love to witter on about the terrible loss of these jobs, but these tossers didn't have to work in them and know NOTHING about it. *I* did, as my father before me.
    Seriously mate, stick to stuff you know about.

  23. RevStu says:

    You have no idea what I do and don't know about. But by all means continue attacking a straw man (I'm not sure where the idea that I'm "romanticising" the 50s, 60s and 70s comes from, except in the simple factual observation that people had much more job security and that an honest day's graft would generally pay enough to put a roof over your head) and keep ignoring the points that people actually have put to you – in particular, that no matter how much any of these young people improved themselves, there'd be no jobs for them to do. None at all, never mind these awful 1960s ones that nobody has ever claimed were anything but dirty, hard labour.

    You go on an on about how there's plenty of work, when the simple empirical fact is that there isn't. The ONS is a government office that has nothing to gain from making things look worse than they are, yet they state the bald fact that there are roughly 10% as many jobs as we need to clear the unemployment lines. (And about 2% in Tottenham.) That's just basic arithmetic, and you have no way round it other than to rant and rage at the unlucky.

    But let's lighten things up with a joke. These 10 guys go for a job, and one of them gets it. Then he calls the other 9 a bunch of lazy useless cunts. Ha ha!

  24. non-scrounger says:

    I concur caveman.

  25. Captain Caveman says:

    Stuart, the point you seem to be missing here is that I did what I did against a backdrop of 3 million + unemployed. I scoured the job centre, eventually finding a £35/week job at a factory (appallingly underpaid even in 1984) and took it from there, enrolling at the local college in my spare time (evenings), studying at weekends whilst my mates were out enjoying themselves, moved around to get work on the next (very lowly) rung of the ladder.
    You talk about lack of jobs, but there are still hundreds of thousands unfilled, even by your reckoning? And what is to stop someone becoming self employed, starting very small by selling stuff at markets or whatever? Cleaning windows/houses/cars? Moving to other areas? Presenting at building sites for labouring jobs? Employment agencies? And STILL being able to do courses at colleges? Going to the library? Distance learning? Voluntary sector for important work experience?
    Let's face it though, it's just not going to happen, is it? Yeah, looking at that lot rioting in the streets the other night, I can just see them having the slightest comprehension of 'pride in a days' work', in their designer gear or whatever that some twat like me has had to pay for, one way or another. And you – a man of my age – effectively sympathising with them, with your parrot-like "there's NOTHING any of them can do, it's entirely understandable that they behave like this, it's all Thatcher's fault, come the revolution!!!11 blah blah blah". 
    Gah. Sorry, but what a load of utter shite.

  26. RevStu says:

    "Stuart, the point you seem to be missing here is that I did what I did against a backdrop of 3 million + unemployed."

    Sigh. Yes, and you got lucky. Unless you're suggesting that every one of those three million apart from you was a workshy layabout with no skills of any kind, you got lucky. You might as well be a lottery winner demanding that everyone who hasn't won the lottery should be denied any state benefits, because if he can win the lottery then anyone can.

    "Yeah, looking at that lot rioting in the streets the other night, I can just see them having the slightest comprehension of 'pride in a days' work',"

    Way to judge a large group of people you've never met. I wonder how many of them are kids who, with just a bit of the support that's being slashed, might do just that? I don't know, and nor do you, but only one of us is making huge sweeping generalisations about them.

  27. Captain Caveman says:

    Yeah, sorry for generalising about people rioting and looting in the streets, destroying businesses and injuring their peers, apparently in a bid to get some trainers and/or electrical goods gratis – because I haven't met them personally. Silly old me, eh readers?
    Perhaps I should've reserved judgement until I personally had joined the throng, microphone and notepad in hand, prior to 'judging' them.

  28. RevStu says:

    Maybe so. I'm sure at least it would have provided some entertaining footage on the news as you explained to them that their situation is all their own fault and they just need to pull their damn socks up until they've restored the trillions of pounds to the economy that the bankers pissed away, by cleaning windows.

    Presumably you also despise everyone in the Middle East who’s rioted on the streets recently, yes? Because there’s never any excuse for rioting, is there?

  29. Captain Caveman says:

    You know perfectly well that I *despise* bankers at least as much as you do, and have stated this view for many, many years, far longer than was ever fashionable in "right on" circles, here as elsewhere.
    As for rioting in the Middle East, those poor people, impoverished both politically and literally, are fighting for some semblance Democracy. I'd hardly compare their terrible plight – of which I have the greatest sympathy – with by comparison *hugely* privileged people who generally can't be arsed, wouldn't know a political cause if it smacked them in the face and just fancy a bit of a ruck, hopefully with some nice new trainers at the end of it. To draw any parallels *whatsoever* is hugely insulting, frankly, and pretty much says it all.

  30. RevStu says:

    The people in the Middle East are in the exact same situation that Britain's poor are, just a bit more so. They're rioting against poverty, repression, unemployment and the absence of democracy, all of which is exactly what's happening here. (Being able to vote for three marginally different shades of Tories, who will all then set fire to their manifestos and do whatever the fuck they like anyway, doesn't count.)

    And I must admit, your loathing of bankers comes as news to me. Care to refresh my memory?

  31. Captain Caveman says:

    What, are you serious? You did not know I hate the banks…? The 'non producers'? Brown, Mansion House, all the rest?!
    Don't know about WoS as I don't think I can search the forum, but there's loads of it at BEEX – the most recent bout went down about as well as a fart in a lift, even now and in the light of all that's transpired.

  32. RevStu says:

    Um, Brown wasn't a banker, WoS does have a forum search, and I don't read Beex.

  33. Captain Caveman says:

    Well, Brown was, for many years, laughably of the view that the so-called 'finance industry' of this country was the engine of the UK economy, would forever and a day be capable of bankrolling his ever more grandiose expansion of the public sector within the UK economy (yes, that well known Tory trait, eh), and in fact positively derided the likes of Germany with its horrible little austerity plan to regain economic competitiveness and prudence, not to mention the apparently 'poor growth' of its terribly old fashioned, real products, private sector wealth creation-led economy.
    He might not have been a banker, but as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was responsible for an awful lot of critical – and hopeless -government policy and legislation re. regulation of the UK banking sector and City.
    As for searching forums, you're the one who's interested, man. I can't even manage to make an entry here on this blog that's even legible/printable, so I am not dicking about with searching for my own posts of years ago or whenever, when I already know perfectly well what I thought and said. (If you think that's just some cop-out on my part and I really *did* love the banks in 2008 or whenever, that's fine with me).

  34. Tom K. says:

    I am heartened that some of us still place absolute faith in personal anedcote. I’d like to point out to Captain Caveman that I had cancer of the bum, anus, and gooch and the doctors said I would die within 4.3 arbitrary time units. But I’m still alive!
    I am sure you therefore believe that you too could beat cancer and are just about to swallow a big tumour to prove me right.

  35. Targaff says:

    Bootstraps. Bootstraps! BOOTSTRAPS!!
    I think I've covered all of the counterarguments there.

  36. Shit just got real in Britain.  I'm a strong follower of Dr. King's gospel of nonviolent resistance, but I understand that people can only be pushed so far.  And this economic "crisis" is nothing more than a war on the peasants, straight out of Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine."
    I'll be blasting my loud and rebellious rock 'n roll in solidarity of the kids in the streets — Black Sabbath, The Ramones, MC5.  But don't forget what Dr. King taught.  Those men in the Darth Vader armor want you to break shit up.  The want an excuse to crack your skulls.  Peace out.

  37. non-scrounger says:

    Cunts are starting up in Bristol and Liverpool. Nothing to do with Mark Duggan. Everything to do with "free" trainers and xboxes.
    It's the something for nothing generation in full effect. Never worked, never will. No respect for themselves or anybody else.
    And to the apologists: Do you live and work in an area like this? I do. I know all the tricks, all the games these cunts play. Contrary to your assertions, they want to stay on benefits. They just want more and more.
    Bring in the army with rubber bullets and water cannons. Oh, but then the cry of 'brutality' would ring out….

  38. DG says:

    Exactly, near my work there's a Town Hall, several council buildings, a lot of banks.
    But no they turned over a tiny family run florist on the edge of the park.
    Anyone defending or excusing this cuntery can genuinely, finally cunt off and get run over by a tank, this is zero to do with anything except criminals seeing a chance.

  39. Irish Al says:

    The difference between this and the poll tax riots is stark. I never thought I'd be nostalgic for proper riots like we used to have.

  40. RevStu says:

    The piece clearly states that I think all this has little if anything to do with the shooting of Mark Duggan.

  41. Captain Caveman says:

    @ DG – totally agree; at last, some words of wisdom.
    Watching the news last night, fuming through image after image of well fed, fashionably clothed youths committing aggravated burglary (for that is what it is of course, in pursuit of 'iThings' and designer clothes), with a good dose of mindless criminal damage thrown in for good measure, my mind's eye returned to this place, with its ludicrous, highly offensive parallels to unfortunate peoples risking – and incurring – death, in *genuine*, politically motivated struggles, such as those of the Middle East and in particular, Syria.
    As you say, this is about precisely nothing, except feral, uneducated, above all LAZY, useless brats going out onto the street and nicking the entirely banal, consumer-led stuff they want in order to follow the mindless, unthinking herd, because they can, apparently. Plus, a good dose of sheer, mindless destruction, wrought upon the very people they rub shoulders with day to day and their hard earned, hard won property and businesses (or not, in all probability; these little wankers probably don't get out of bed until 3pm), never does amiss for 'gang' bragging rights, eh.
    I've been banging on for YEARS about our hugely expensive but USELESS education system, which tries to operate on a zero classroom discipline level, presumably to satisfy some laughably outmoded and discredited political mantra or other. About a state system that pays for parents – or should I say parent – to fire out yet one feral brat after another, each one brought up with the same total apathy, ineptitude and even outright contempt, on a heady cocktail of endless television/games, neglect, poor diet, zero exercise, zero love, cigarette smoke, the same zero discline/parental control as per their useless, lousy schools – even assuming they attend *at all* after about age 14-15. The same uselss, loveless and inept upbringing that they had at the hands of *their* oxygen thief chav parent(s), in fact.
    The results of this combination of idiotic 'right on' political thinking and useless schooling/parenting were there for all to see last night and in fact have been for some considerable time, for anyone who could take the blinkers off for 5 minutes, looking past yet another year of 'record GCSE attainment', yet with kids repeatedly told how amazing they and their 'achievments' are being essentially illiterate and innumerate in many cases and most certainly unemployable. Most of 'em wouldn't even know how to properly set out a letter applying for any job, let alone have the basic toolset to embark on a career beyond serving beef patties in bread buns.
    These kids and their eventual offspring are going to inflict year upon year of endless expense and misery upon the rest us, the ever dwindling productive element of society. They have no concept whatsoever of having to work to earn anything, and even if they did, many of them are so poorly educated – both in life skills and literal terms – as to be utterly beyond redemption. These are, ultimately, the wages of those heady days back in the Sixties; radical political reforms of the type that abolished our once great schools and education system, with its instilled work ethic and moral values, discipline and above all, efficacy. I could weep for the irrepairable damage that has been wrought on this one great country.

  42. RevStu says:

    The perfectly valid points you make about the education system are horribly undermined by all the other frothing retired-Colonel kneejerk Daily Mail bullshit you spout. It's a shame.

  43. Captain Caveman says:

    That's fine Stu, I have my opinions and you have yours. We obviously vehemently disagree.
    Me? Whilst I am the first to extoll the importance of effective, fair schooling on young people, which by definition HAS to include a degree of discipline (as well as decent resources, manageable class sizes and above all else, a knowledgable, committed, experienced and effective teacher), a child's upbringing is at least as important, if not moreso.
    I think it's perfectly valid to say that a child who is dragged up without a father and hence male role model, without discipline/time investment/interest in their schooling, in an environment where no-one has, or ever will worked – for anything – is surely a recipe for disaster. I'm certainly NOT tarring all single parent families with this brush (and nor am I saying that all families with both parents present are fine and dandy either). But it simply cannot be denied – however unpalatable/un-PC it may well be – that there is surely a statistical link between lousy parenting, where no-one has ever worked and hence been a valid role model, and kids/behavour such as this. Sorry, but there it is. If that is 'Daily Mail bullshit' in your view, so be it.

  44. RevStu says:

    Did anyone deny a link between lousy parenting – regardless of the number of parents involved – and crime? I didn't spot it if they did.

  45. Aurora says:

    Somewhat related to the subject at hand, is an interesting piece which can be found here:

  46. Captain Caveman says:

    I got all the way to the bit where China was lauded as 'a Socialist economy', in all seriousness and with a completely straight face, and could take no more, sorry.
    Providing and bankrolling endless, ever increasing public sector 'non jobs', presumably because our economies are incapable in their current states to generate *real* jobs (because most people, except Eastern European economic migrants, it would seem, aren't prepared to do them), has been unequivocably and absolutely demonstrated to be complete and utter economic madness. I bet China and the other rising world economic powerhouses simply cannot believe their luck at our collective stupidity and how we – for the benefit of a few 'investors' selling the rest of us down the river – are capitulating in absolute and total terms.
    Not sure what this has to do with a bunch of chavs slashing, burning, robbing and assaulting their way to their next iPhone4 and Nike trainers, mind, but still.

  47. RevStu says:

    "I got all the way to the bit where China was lauded as 'a Socialist economy', in all seriousness and with a completely straight face, and could take no more, sorry."

    So you managed to read 90% of it, then? Yet despite taking in almost the whole piece you seem to have overlooked the bit where you demonstrate to us that China isn't, in fact, about to pretty much own the entire economy of the Western world.

    I'm not saying China is great, you understand. I'm merely noting that saying "THIS IS RUBBISH BECAUSE I JUST SAY IT IS LOL!!!!1!!1!" is a poor substitute for an actual argument.

  48. Captain Caveman says:

    Except that it is though, of course.
    Listen Stu, I do not purport to have all the answers here, I am not some fantastic, great intellect – far from it – but I am being entirely honest with you, trying to engage with you and your (to me) wrongheaded peers. Just as I have, with precisely zero success, these last 5, 6 however many years.
    To my simplistic way of thinking, *the answer* is for the State to foster a genuine enterprise economy, providing start up seed capital to the population at large that can provide a decent proposal, business plan, market research – good ideas goddamnit – as opposed to paying for people to do nothing useful and most certainly not wealth creating, with gold plated, unachievable pensions? How about rebuilding our decrepit roads, infrastructure, umpteen inner city boarded houses? Getting the majority of kids to do *realistic* apprenticeships instead of packing 50% of them off to university – whilst the skills are even still out there in this country, to produce the next generation of skilled tradesmen and women – plumbers, electricians, engineers, architects, joiners, new economy workers in IT – instead of 'Accountancy with Dance' degrees! Thatcher was wrong; she should not have simply thrown millions of people onto the scrapheap, but for relatively small additional expense, we could have had – and still can have – this? I *don't* care if this breaks EU competition rules. 
    Help pay for the above by cutting endless waste and welfare, let's get Britain working again – as a bloody team! Sort out the lazy bastards once and for all. Halve the size of the public sector. Curtail the banks and their useless short trading antics that do nothing useful for *us* and our economy. Sort the bloody schools, accepting of the fact that kids need 'stick' as well as plenty of 'carrot'. Look at other countries and how they do things – be clear on the stuff that *works* and unashamedly emulate it. Throw up trade barrers to China whilst we still can (good old protectionism); tell them that we will NOT buy their stuff whilst they continue to rape the planet and their people.
    That'll do for starters.

  49. RevStu says:

    "How about rebuilding our decrepit roads, infrastructure, umpteen inner city boarded houses?"

    Brilliant idea. Couldn't agree more. If the state paid a proper wage for such construction work it would recoup the expenditure many times over.

    "Getting the majority of kids to do *realistic* apprenticeships instead of packing 50% of them off to university"

    Brilliant idea. Couldn't agree more. 50% going to university was always an idiotic plan.

    "Thatcher was wrong; she should not have simply thrown millions of people onto the scrapheap, but for relatively small additional expense, we could have had – and still can have – this?"

    Brilliant. Couldn't agree more.

    "Curtail the banks and their useless short trading antics that do nothing useful for *us* and our economy."

    Brilliant. Couldn't agree more.

    "Halve the size of the public sector."

    Hang on, what?

  50. Captain Caveman says:

    Fuck me, four out of five isn't bad.

  51. RevStu says:

    I'm just glad you've finally acknowledged that what Thatcher did was "throw millions of people on the scrapheap". Progress!

  52. Captain Caveman says:

    Oh well, if political point scoring does it for you mate, be my guest. 🙂
    Yes, I have indeed changed my views somewhat; I can see now that whilst Thatcher was entirely right to make the swingeing step changes that she did, she went too far the other way and managed to (partially) throw the baby out with the bathwater. I can evolve and learn, the same as anyone else and possess the humility to admit to my (considerable) shortcomings. That said though, it is unquestionably the case that perhaps 80% of the things she did were entirely necessary and there certainly were plenty of winners – of the working classes such as myself – as losers.
    Back in the '70s there was precisely no chance of someone like me, coming from a working class background and crummy comprehensive school (talk about 'the wrong school tie'), ever making it in business, even to the limited extent that I have done. She instilled the 'can do, it's there for the taking' self-belief in the likes of us, for the very first time – precisely the kind of self reliance, belief in hard work/ethic, self improvement and risk, that is so sorely needed now.
    I know you compare me to a 'lottery winner' but that's self evidently nonsense; I remind you again of the new BMWs, Audis, caravans and all the rest that fill the (ex) Council estates of my youth, in stark and total contrast to how things were even 25 years ago, and most of these people are not businessmen but employees. Much of this affluence of ordinary people is very much down to Thatcher's legacy, though you'll doubtless deride it – but it is the truth; UK plc was a bombed-out, bankrupt, union-infested shell by the close of the '70s.
    Anyway, enough already. Time for some work…

  53. Tom K. says:

    This comments thread has made me happy. Perhaps consensus politics across broadly center-occupying coalitions can work.

    “Much of this affluence of ordinary people is very much down to Thatcher’s legacy…”

    The ordinary person is squeezed between the very rich and very poor, and less happy than ever. Oliver James and Danny Dorling provide excellent statistical evidence for this.

  54. non-scrounger says:

    Any chance these motherless fucks could go stomp on some Bentleys in Knightsbridge, Kensington or Hampstead? Theres a chance it's piss off a banker and that'd do me. Give the florists a rest.

  55. Tom K. says:

    We need the Socialist Worker to run the headline:


  56. daneel says:

    Captain Caveman
    Engineers are tradesmen who don't need to go to university? Quack quack oops.

  57. Captain Caveman says:

    daneel – obviously never heard of HNC, HND or BTech for that matter, any and all of which being gained at college, day release/evening classes in the case of HNC and BTech? Can't say I'm surprised, frankly.
    'Quack quack oops' indeed.
    So then… you went to the trouble of posting the above – at nearly two in the morning – in an entirely abortive. incredibly petty and laughably ignorant attempt just to score points… only to look a total fool at the end of it. Well done you!
    Sheesh, what a total troll wanker. Fuck off.

  58. daneel says:

    Ignorant? You're the one talking out of your arse and belittling thousands of professionals.
    Of course I've heard of HNCs, HNDs and BTechs. Irrelevant lower level qualifications. Useful for tradesmen and technicians. Not engineers. If you had even the slightest conception of what an engineer is (i.e. not the guy that fixes your washing machine, you dumb shit) you'd know this.To become a chartered engineer now you need a Masters degree. Check with the Engineering Council.
    Also, two in the morning in one part of the world is not two in the morning everywhere. I assume that even with your lack of education you must be aware of the concept of world time.
    You're the troll, you fuck off.

  59. Captain Caveman says:

    Hah. Who mentioned Chartered Engineers? Not you, that's for sure. 
    The fact is, you CAN be termed an Engineer with an HNC, HND or even a HIgher BTech, notwithstanding your deriding these perfectly worthy, professional qualifications. I know, because I have been one for the last 25 years. 
    In fact, you can even become a Chartered Engineer (in the UK) with even this status, FACT.
    So, second post in, and you're still trolling and still making an absolute arse of yourself, spouting totally inaccurate nonsense – I think you'll find that it's you who is "the dumb shit", to quote your rapier-like wit.
    (Please don't misconstrue any non-response on my part to whatever pathetic dribblings you come up with, or not, as anything other than my desire not to converse with, or waste my time, with cretins. Thanks).

  60. Anonymous X says:

    I can confirm that daneel is right. My father's a chartered engineer and one needs serious qualifications to go down that route. He warned me very strongly against the BTEC/GNVQ and HND path in qualifications when I was a teenager.

  61. Tom K. says:

    “Well, yeah, you can be an engineer: just not a very good one.”

  62. Captain Caveman says:

    AX – no, daneel is NOT right.
    For a start, he said "Engineers", not "Chartered Engineers" in his first post.
    Secondly, even if this distinction WAS made – which it categorically was not – see above – then even then, it *is* possible to gain CEng status without a degree in the UK, albeit it is very, very hard to do so, granted. I know, because someone I worked with for years did precisely that.
    (I do not say these things for fun and have worked in engineering for nearly 30 years now, so I know what I am talking about. In any case, even the most cursory enquiries would reveal that I am correct; there are many large, professional engineering practices of 100 years or more standing in the UK who give the title "Engineer" – indeed "Senior Engineer" and even "Executive Engineer" to people with 'just' an HNC or HND)

  63. Captain Caveman says:

    "Well yeah, you can be an engineer, just not a very good one"
    There are plenty of very good Engineers with HNDs/HNCs, which you'd know, if you were one.
    Whatever though, I seem to have done pretty alright thanks, without a degree, in both technological (in terms of the projects I have designed, affecting millions of people every week) and commercial terms.

  64. daneel says:

    So which is it, Cavey? Tradesmen or professionals?

    Of course I am fully aware that people have and can become fully qualified engineers (chartered or not) without a degree. I'm also aware that the standard level of education required for Chartered status only fairly recently changed from a Batchelors to a Masters degree (SARTOR 97?). I'll freely admit that some of the best engineers I've worked with have worked up from apprenticeships. Others have had PhDs. There's clearly room for movement. None of them, however, have been tradesmen.

    If you have 30 years of experience of working in engineering. I'm sure you are well aware that the vast majority of engineers do have degrees and almost all recent entrants to the profession (at least to the blue chip engineering firms) have Masters degrees, so I'm not sure why you're splitting hairs.

    This could have been a much more enlightening discussion if you hadn't immediately started out by insulting me. I suspect we probably aren't really that far apart on engineers, to be honest.

    I make a fairly lighthearted comment questioning your belittling of thousands of professionals (presumably including yourself, it now transpires) as equivalent to plumbers and joiners (I see you also have a problem with architects) and what I get back is a stream of barely-literate insults and expletives, and I'm the one with the lack of wit. Not very self-aware, are you?

    Whatever. It's funny, because reading through the various threads on the riots here I've probably been more inclined to agree with you than Stu on a lot of things, but you've lost me now. Not sure why you're such an angry man.

    Perhaps you should go wank off to your signed photo of Norman Tebbit again to relax yourself.

  65. Captain Caveman says:

    If you're fully aware that people have, and can still become 'fully qualified' engineers, without a degree and therefore not having to go to university, then I'd say it's a very great pity for both you and your 'argument', (such as it is and precisely nothing to do with the actual subject matter at hand), that you bothered to say the precise opposite in the first place. And then again a second time, and on both occasions in a condescending manner – despite being *completely wrong*, even by your own admission now.
    I'll leave it for others to consider who is being the dick here. Me? I am, at least was here to discuss Stu'd piece about the riots, not some nitpicking, incorrect bollocks about the professional status or otherwise of engineers.
    Finally, I am not an angry man per se, as anyone who knows me would happily testify. In fact, I'm a pretty jolly chap, really. Thing is though, I've never been able to suffer fools gladly, one of my many faults I'm afraid. Especially needlessly rude ones.

  66. daneel says:

    I thought you weren't going to respond to me?

    I'm not wrong, and you're well aware of it, but your ego won't let you stop. I think there's quite a gap between "not all engineers have degrees" and "people should become tradesmen like engineers instead of going to university". Are you seriously arguing that we don't need university educated engineers?

    Needlessly rude? Your first comment to me was "petty ignorant troll wanker, fuck off". In response to "quack quack oops". I think you need to learn some perspective.

    Anyhoo, cheers, it's been fun. You've won the award for the most bafflingly rude and argumentative person I've ever encountered anywhere on the internet. Quite an achievement. Feel free to reply again even though you said you wouldn't, if you think it'll help you to 'win'. Of course, you know what they say about arguing on the internet and the Special Olympics, don't you?

  67. Captain Caveman says:

    Yeah, I know I said I wouldn't reply, but like I said I have my foibles – dickheads like you make such good sport, afterall.
    Let's recap shall we?
    Your first post (itself a nitpicking troll post, nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter at hand) claimed that engineers have to go to university. I pointed out this was incorrect.
    Your second, far more detailed post, derided the HND and HNC as 'irrelevant qualifications for technicians and tradesmen'. I again pointed out that plenty of long established, multi-disciplinary engineering practices of 100 years' standing or more, do not concur.
    Your third post then completely contradicted your first two, when you said' of course I am completely aware that people can and have become fully qualified engineers, both chartered and not', or somesuch…. EH? I then say 'what a plonker, you've just contradicted yourself you twat, what are you even still doing in this thread?'
    Now you come back AGAIN, saying 'I am not wrong and you know it', even though you've just said completely contradictory things in your earlier posts, making a *total arse* of yourself….?
    Sorry, but 'LOL'. What a first class bellend.

  68. Tom K. says:

    “This could have been a much more enlightening discussion if you hadn’t immediately started out by insulting me. I suspect we probably aren’t really that far apart on engineers, to be honest.”

    But still Caveman continues.

    I’d understand it if you were debating about a life and death issue, or even something about personal taste if somewhat integral to your definition of your character. But no. Let’s go down fighting about the technical definition of an engineer.

    Pick your battles, man.

  69. Dr. Chalkwitheringlicktacklefeff says:

    I'd never go so far as to say that he deserved to be shot.  However, regardless of whether he fired the gun; if he even was in possession of a firearm at the time he was shot then her certainly doesn't deserve the kind of outpouring of outrage that has ensued.


  70. Captain Caveman says:

    That, of course, assumes that this is what these riots are all about (as opposed to, let's say 'blatant greed, thuggery and opportunism of the worst kind'), rather than being simply an initial, and very rapidly irrelevant catalyst.

  71. Captain Caveman says:

    Stu, I agree that there are very worrying aspects about any plan to summarily shut down social networking sites at the behest of government, on the back of something like this. Once the infrastructure is there to do stuff like this, and all that. Mind you, I'm hoping/assuming that this is just some half-arsed playing to the gallery, just like Blair's much lauded but unworkable '£80 fines, being marched to ATMs for being disorderly in the street', or whatever they were, with no real substance to it?
    Even if it is true in entirety though, I'd hardly compare that to Arab Spring conditions. Plus, I do think that ISPs and the like *should* be traceable/people should be accountable? AFAIK the Blackberry system that these kids are using is *totally* untraceable.

  72. Ian says:

    Everything goes through RIM's servers, I believe, and if you act like the Saudis and get the keys, you can listen in.
    What you *do* have to worry about is an enterprising drug gangster paying a programmer a few hundred thousand to develop a P2P chat app that exclusively talks over SSL and sideloaded onto Android phones. Short of finding an exploit in the code, the police would be totally screwed.

  73. Durruti says:

    The comments are nearly as enlightening as the original post-  my own life experience proves that you didn't need to have a degree to get an engineering job with blue-chip companies- at least in the states.
      BUT it's precisely because I grew up in a home that had a Commodore, then an Apple2c, etc- that I didn't need to finish a computer science degree to ace a code test. I had patient parents that could see value in a BASIC program that took a week to write and culminated in four colors cascading towards the center of the screen like the DeathStar trench run. WEAK- but at 8years old it was easy for them to convince me it was cool, and more importantly, that I should continue. Support and encouragement are vital to children, and how much do you think these kids have had in their lives?
      That's the point I think you're glossing over, Caveman- you're speaking from a vantage point of privilege and some type of education, even if it's self-taught, which is every bit as respectable as a formal education. But don't dismiss the advantages you’ve had as superfluous.
      I wish mobs would have been burning down banks or fire-bombing financial centers. Every time I saw a journalist give a kid the opportunity to speak about motivations the best they could come up with was, "We show'n the police that this neighborhood is ours" and then they'd proceed to set that neighborhood ablaze.
      But what do you expect? The majority of these kids probably grew up in homes without books, much less structure. I was floored to learn that the UK has the highest teenage birthrate in the EU? I haven't sourced it but that's astounding if it is true. If kids are having kids, what types of goals do you think are set, much less being met, in their households?
      It'd be great if they could articulate for the BBC how they're fed up with boom and bust, neo-liberal, free market capitalism. That they're tired of hearing what's being described as anarchy because real Kropotkin/ Bakunin anarchy is precisely what they're after. All they want is to govern themselves and not feel powerless in a world that obviously has no use for them unless they can play football or rap.
      It's sickening to know that the livelihoods of hard working people, who have everything they own tied up in the shelves of a shitty little off-license, have forever been destroyed. But do you really believe that these kids have had the opportunity to think about it that far? I suspect they actually see those people as the oppressors because they normally bitch at them for loitering about their businesses. I know it’s always easier to condemn, but just try to understand the world as they know it before you pass judgement. These kids may well be the vanguard- this could lead to a serious debate about the state of affairs in this country- the UK’s own convocation of the estates-general. If that happens you’ll have to storm the Bastille with us because you know the queue for the guillotine will be very long. 😉
      Lastly, given the numerous, highly educated people that are out of work now, I seriously doubt I could get a job at either of the huge tech companies I worked at for over a decade if I came in off the street today and applied, regardless of how efficiently I can query a database or troubleshoot legacy code.

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