What Saturday’s chaos in London tells us

June 14, 2020

by Martin Odoni

So far, the riot (only a slight one, but near enough) in London yesterday, and the reaction that followed, have allowed those who were watching it closely to draw five solid conclusions; –

  1. Those people who said they were there to “protect statues” are not interested in protecting statues.
  2. Those who claim they want to prevent real history from being erased do not know any real history.
  3. Every time the far-right has tried to claim it has been physically attacked, it has been a lie.
  4. Mainstream media use of euphemisms must stop forthwith.
  5. Keir Starmer has got to go.

To address each of these in turn; –

    1. The far-right thugs who claimed they were there to protect statues had no reason whatever to travel to London at all. As Black Lives Matter had called off their own event for yesterday, and the police had themselves been deployed primarily to protect statues that might have been targeted, the task was already well covered without the Football Lads Alliance rearing their exceptionally ugly heads. Given the thugs and the police were supposedly there to do the same job, it is perhaps something of a mystery (though not, I would suggest, a particularly tough one to unravel) that they ended up fighting each other.
      Police and BFers want same thing but fight

      If you are fighting the police while supposedly trying to do the same job as them, your reasons for being there are probably not what you claim they are.

      It was noticeable, through watching live feeds of the unfolding events, that very few of the ‘Tommehs’ were gravitating towards statues on Whitehall, Parliament Square or Trafalgar Square at all. Instead, far more time was devoted to trying to dislodge barricades the police had put up, assaulting journalists, urinating on (or at least urinating so close to it that it makes no practical difference) one of the memorials they were supposedly there to protect – this one a memorial to a genuine hero who gave his life to protect others – throwing smoke bombs and flares at innocent passers-by, spitting at people for the heinous crime of having a picnic on Hyde Park, and performing Nazi salutes on the one occasion they actually bothered to go near the Winston Churchill statue or the Cenotaph. In any context, a Nazi salute is grotesque, but in this context, it is also thoroughly bizarre, which leads us neatly into…

    2. A Nazi salute as a tribute to Winston Churchill? Is that not a little like performing a Seder as a tribute to Adolf Eichmann? In fairness, I have argued more than once in the past that the similarities between Churchill and Adolf Hitler massively outweigh the very few differences, so perhaps the salute is appropriate after all. But that is the diametric opposite of the reason why the ‘Tommehs’ were performing the salute. Churchill and Hitler were implacable foes when it came to the crunch, so saluting Churchill with a salute normally reserved for ‘Der Führer‘ would be taken by both men to be a gross insult. By the same measure, if these people really want the world to believe that they wish to preserve real history, it would help enormously if they tried learning some, such as, no, Churchill did not kill Hitler, as one pseudo-intellectual was claiming as he waved a Lucozade bottle around in front of the Churchill statue. Hitler killed Hitler in 1945, a suicide committed because Berlin was about to fall to troops of the Red Army of the Soviet Union – not to British troops. Churchill’s role in Hitler’s self-elimination was in fact relatively slight, certainly compared to Josef Stalin’s role. So, on these grounds, do these extremist ‘patriot’, right-wing thugs also wish to protect statues of a foreign Communist like Stalin? That would be quite extraordinary, and confirm that, for all their claims that they are protecting history from erasure, they have no historical literacy at all.

      If these thugs had any brains, they might even be dangerous.

    3. The resemblance between what happened yesterday, and what happens whenever the far right get into battles with the police, was pretty much one hundred per cent, making it highly likely that the course of events is the same almost every time. The police were quite commendably restrained, in fact, compared with their heavy-handedness against BLM protesters the previous weekend e.g. no charges of mounted officers into the crowd. There is no doubt at all from the images on yesterday’s live-stream that the fighting was started by the ‘Tommehs’, not by the police, and that fighting was the real reason they were there. Inevitably, there have been attempts to shift the blame and to create false narratives that the police started it, or that there were provocateurs among their number, but truth to tell, that only lends a ‘split personality’ flavour to their claims. After all, the far right sounded rather happy with the much more aggressive treatment the police dished out to BLM a week earlier.
      Daily Struggle BLM protests

      One or the other is true, Football lads, they cannot both be true. You have to decide which part of your fake narrative you are going to abandon.

      The reality is that all the old whines from the Britain First brigade in their many-and-varied forms, that they are simply defending themselves, are no longer credible – were they ever? – and that the only reason they turn up at these events is because they are spoiling for a fight. In that regard, their aims are not even political. Politics is just the pretext, the rationalisation giving just enough of a veneer of respectability to how these imbeciles view themselves. The evidence is there for all to see from the close coverage the run of events got yesterday that it is untrue.

    4. The media tried very hard to help the thugs sound, at worst, “only as bad as the BLM protesters” the previous weekend. This came in the form of words that downplayed their far, far worse behaviour. The rioters were ‘protesters’ this weekend. They ‘clashed with’ the police, rather than attacked them. The usual role-call of excessively restrained language that our media are well-practiced in deploying thanks to years of using it to describe the barbarity of the heavily-beweaponed (and laughably-misnamed) ‘Israeli Defence Force’ as it brutally crushes Palestinian protesters who are armed with tufts of dried grass. But euphemisms are not only weaselly, they are dangerous. Substituting words with vaguer, more placid terminology is a very effective method of corrupting the thoughts of those reading or listening. If it was unacceptable when Nazi or Soviet propagandists did it – and it undoubtedly was –  then it is equally unacceptable for the BBC to do it too.
    5. I have kept my powder reasonably dry over the early performance of the new Labour leader, but I can do so no more. I know the Tories like to insist that Starmer’s accession means that “the Opposition is back after five years”, but the fact that Tories like him should tell us something. And while liberal-centrist knuckleheads like James O’Brien also cannot resist prostrating themselves at the feet of The Great Lord Forensic, the truth is they only do so out of a blinkered, ingrained hatred of the left born from growing up in the crazed anti-Bennite atmosphere of the 1980s, and so feel validation from seeing another centrist back in charge of one of the big parties. In truth, assessed objectively, Starmer has been something of a duffer as an Opposition leader so far. There has been little sign of a “Starmer-bounce” in the opinion polls, which is what a new leader should always bring as the public give him the initial benefit of the doubt. And his performances at Prime Minister’s Question Time have been feeble. Okay, he has yet actually to lose a duel at the despatch box so far, but hey, look at the utter buffoon he has been up against. We are in a period of unequalled failing Government, when Boris Johnson has completely fouled up every step of the Coronavirus crisis, and the lockdown has meant he has no childish jeering masses behind him during PMQ’s to shout down critics. No situation has offered quite such a persistent series of ‘open goals’ to any Opposition Leader since probably the early-1970s. And yet Starmer keeps swinging-and-missing, and letting Johnson get away with quite the most breathtaking non-answers and barefaced lies imaginable. Even his most superficial qualities are weak; Starmer talks like the mousy, ineffectual Chartered Accountant caricature Michael Palin used to play on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, while his choice-of-language is so lame and half-hearted that he comes across as being worried that he might upset poor little Boris.
      Keir Starmer - Chartered Accountant

      Listen at PMQs. Starmer really does sound the same, similar high-pitched, grovelly noise, ineffectual and self-conscious.

      Yes, the polls have improved for Labour recently, but they are still some way behind, and in any event, that seems more a reflection of how awful the Government’s performance and constant lying to distract from it have been, than anyone being newly convinced by Labour. The centrists cannot have it both ways. They kept complaining (including the aforementioned O’Brien) for ages under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership that Labour “should have been twenty points up in the polls,” and that it was an indictment of his leadership that they were not. All that was before the Coronavirus exposed just how useless the Tories are. Well, given the awful Tory response to CoVid-19, it is outrageous that Starmer has not at least got Labour a couple of points ahead in the polls by now. And that is before we even look at Starmer’s lily-livered response to yesterday. This is all he had to say about it; –

Starmer could not even bring himself to describe the riot as a riot, or to call the rioters what they so clearly are – racists. Nazis. Fascists. Superficial, rationalising ones maybe, but still, the use of the Nazi salute alone is all the evidence we need of that. Even Johnson, hypocritical and contemptible though his response was, at least was prepared to condemn the rioters as racists – and he was the psychopath who dog-whistled them into rioting in the first place. Starmer also spoke only of attacks on the police. No interest in the woman spat on in Hyde Park – during a lethal pandemic! No interest in the well-being of the journalist who got a broken nose for his troubles. Starmer’s disapproval sounds no stronger than the objections he offered last week to the manner in which the Edward Colston statue was hauled down in Bristol, which lends his position an uncomfortably lazy, “fault on both sides” feel, as though he is hedging bets like so many Labour right-wingers before him have done. Starmer is showing that, even if his actual performance improved, it would be to little avail for the rest of us, as he is the sort of leader who keeps conceding to the right wing instead of fighting them, and equivocates in his opposition to racism, in a way that stands at total odds with that of his predecessor. Whatever you might think of his talents, Corbyn is a lifelong, unrelenting opponent of racism who always calls it out when he sees it. Starmer is not, and it means, even if he is successful, he will not provide dependable leadership in the struggle against far-right extremism. He has to go.

So all-in-all, yesterday was a bad day for the right wing in its attempts to maintain the absurd fiction that it is more sinned-against than sinning. But it was also a bad day for centrists as they try to maintain the also-absurd fiction that they are better at offering ‘effective opposition’ than the left.


4 Responses to “What Saturday’s chaos in London tells us”

  1. Jimbob Says:

    Well said Martin

  2. marijo1951 Says:

    Thank you for the Michael Palin reference. I’ve been desperately trying to think who Keir Starmer reminds me of when he speaks – I was thinking of John Major, but your comparison is much more accurate. Still if what came out of his mouth established him as an effective opposition leader, it wouldn’t matter so much what he sounded like.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      I can see the resemblance to Major, now you mention it, although I tend to view Major in the context of his Government, and I conclude he was a good deal tougher than he appeared. It was an achievement with his party so divided and in such dog-eared shape that he saw out a full five-year term. I somehow doubt Starmer could survive such circumstances, should he ever get to such a position.

      • marijo1951 Says:

        The whole Brexit fiasco made me re-evaluate a number of people, including John Major. I realised that Tories vary in integrity and morality and can’t all be lumped together in a crude way. It’s a pity that we’re currently under the rule of the worst variety.

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