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August 08, 2011


chris y

Was that Von Moltke? I forget.

Very likely. Somewhat later it was Trotsky on the United Front.


Wouldn't the Chinese solution be 'switch off BBM for the rest of the week'?

Charlie W

If it gets much worse, that's what'll have to happen here.

chris y

They closed all the mobile networks on 7/7 on the pretext of needing the bandwidth for the emergency services (which was a bugger for those of us whose loved ones were likely to be in KC at the time). My guess it was primarily intended to disrupt any planned follow-ups, because AFAIK the emergency services have perfectly good dedicated wavelengths. If they haven't done the same thing yet with BBM it's because they think it's gone too far. (I know no emergency unit uses BBs, but I don't think many of them depend on Orange either).


I suppose another way would be to use the BBM network to set honeytraps and try and get rioters to come to where the cops are waiting for them. It might destroy rioters confidence in that network as well.


because AFAIK the emergency services have perfectly good dedicated wavelengths

In practice they tend not to work well, particularly when under stress. I vaguely remember shutting mobile phone networks down caused emergency services trouble.


As a spectator veternan of 1981 riots (Dalston), I observe:

1. The police are much better equipped now, I saw crazed improvisation in 1981.

2. The locations and age range of the rioters are almost identical.

3. Police-community relationships are generally better now than in the 1980s.

4. Helicopter based 24 hour TV news doesn't appear to make a lot of difference (and if you can't recognise the narrow way, Hackney from the air and don't know the difference between Clapham, Clapton, and Clapham Junction you are not really cut out for this assignment).

5. Back in 1981 we amused ourselves by deadpanning nonsense on the telephone to baffle the authorities. Things have moved on a bit.

6. The ex-cops who act as pundits offer a full range, from Graham Wettone (I think it is) who sounds quite sophisticated, but there are some right on knuckle draggers.

7. In 1981 planted radio announcements were used for entrapment (what Blood & Treasure calls honeytraps - surely not?)without much success, now I think the technological intiative is with the rioters and likely to stay that way.

Igor Belanov

Nothing at all to do with 'power' as far as I can see. These people are no more powerless than most of the rest of us.

I think that the key is that these people have very little to lose, are cut adrift from 'civilised' society and see an opportunity to get away with a bit of violence, vandalism and looting while there are so many others indulging in it.

Charlie W

I remembered another thing from my school days: Jacob Rees-Mogg pompously insisting that a company of infantrymen, properly authorised, would be able to clear a street of rioters in no time flat. Public order therefore not a problem for a serious, tough-minded government. At the time we all thought something like: well, thank god you'll never have any say in the matter, should things come to that.

belle le triste

My (obviously EXTREMELY anecdatal) perspective, from just one night in just one location, a few streets north of Hackney Central, clashes quite a lot with the info -- not to mention the garbage -- flooding in from elsewhere. I felt and saw no threat at all from rioters towards local passersby (as distinct from journalists etc, though this I only read about): cars (burning or otherwise) were being used primarily as material for barriers; shops were very selectively targeted; the primary driving object seemed to be battling with the police, humiliating them, outmanoeuvring them, defending territory won against them. Maybe someone standing beside me in the same street -- actually I was mostly on the roof (which is high and flat), but not all the time -- would have read it all entirely differently.

Richard J

shops were very selectively targeted

My cynical view, based on the shops targeted round here, is that is was a large proportion osmart places hit were small businesses less likely to have decent CCTV installed. Lots of offies and take aways being broken into, eg.

Charlie W

So, the official strategy seems to be: hugely increase the numbers of police available; authorise use of baton rounds. I wonder if the tactically smart thing for the rioters to do here is to have the night off for a few nights. Go again Friday. Assuming they aren't rioted out by now.

Charlie W

D2 tweeted that the target high streets are mainly those with overground rail line stations. Could be: I think it's easier to fare dodge on surface rail, for one thing. And to move from one end of a train to the other.

Charlie W

And for my third comment I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the rioters aren't just anti-police, they have a political mission as well. Specifically, they're against the holding of certain sorts of property rights. Prime exhibit: the Sony distribution centre that got torched. Also: HMV, branded goods stores, although here I admit that it quickly gets very fuzzy, since lots of different sorts of businesses were targetted. I think there was a message sent around saying not to do in any branches of Greggs, which I thought was funny.

belle le triste

"Citing Twitter, the Rossiya 24 correspondent claims animals had been released from London Zoo and lions and tigers could now be heard roaring on the streets. This is wearily contradicted by the Zoo's press officer. 'It's been very quiet,' she tells us."

Non-denial denial!

Richard J

As I tweeted a week or two back, per Krisztian Ungvary's book on the Siege of Budapest, after the zoo was wrecked 'one lion hid for weeks in the tunnels of the underground railway, eating stray horses, until a task-force set up by the Soviet city commander... caught him.'


I think there was a message sent around saying not to do in any branches of Greggs, which I thought was funny.

I'm sure one piece of news footage last night showed one shop on fire, while the next-door Greggs was untouched.


"Then in 1970 came the 'crackers', special staff who had to patrol the darkened tunnels every day and kill the horses with hammers"


Citizens, do not be fooled by your oppressors. The lackey zoo official says "It's been very quiet." With all the ravenous beasts loose on the streets, the zoo of course is quiet as the grave.

Charlie W

BBC World Service interviews some of the protestors (this has done the rounds). Definitely, hopefully on again for tonight, then.


one lion hid for weeks in the tunnels of the underground railway, eating stray horses, until a task-force set up by the Soviet city commander... caught him

"What did you do in the Great Patriotic War, dyedushka?"

Richard J

One of the few times in history, I suspect, that hunting a starving semi-feral wildcat has been the cushy option.


Someone once explained to me how it is that Gregg's are better than their competitors, but out of the whole list I can only remember that they only sell pasties on the day they're baked.

Charlie W

They have real steak in their steak bakes, ISTR. We quite often went there as students. Very reasonable prices.

Wajahath Dean

I think there was a message sent around saying not to do in any branches of Greggs, which I thought was funny.

But they have been targeting Aldis and Oxfams.


My guess based upon not being in London and being immersed in having my house's contents shipped to the US is:

1) Different stories in different places. So in Hackney/Tottenham (but not Brixton, which surprised me) this would be local kids who hate the police, this would be a huge incentive to get stuck in. Elsewhere its more like class war - but not consciously political, more "revenge"/nihilistic (remember also these are teenagers. Simplistic thinking tends to rule).

2) Riots invert power. Pretty attractive to kids/teenagers, that.

3) Riots make it easy to knick stuff. So looting really not surprising, given anyone predisposed to do so...

4) The riots in leafy places was as much class war, as anything (listen to the voices condemning it. These are the leafy prosperous areas). I wonder if some of the targets relates to the North London line (no tube in Hackney/Dalston). I suppose its new. Normally riots destroy the areas people live in - trashing wealthy areas has a bit more logic to it...


4: the North London line goes to places like Hampstead and Richmond, though, which are much richer and completely untouched.


Very ambivalent about mobilisation of clean-up volunteers, people making tea for police, etc. Basically a good thing & could be as unifying as it's claimed to be - but could also be very divisive ("we're the *real* London...")


I think it's easier to fare dodge on surface rail, for one thing.

More fundamental than that. I think it's that the London Overground rail routes are, in Diamond Geezer's memorable words, the underfunded railway that connects places where poor people live. Actually, since TFL took over (aka "renationalisation") it's not so underfunded any more.

Going to Richmond on it takes a loooong time and isn't really the point - it's meant to be a local tube for the tubeless.

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