Several towns and cities in the Britain were rocked by mass protests and rioting on the streets in early August 2011. The Cameron government has been quick to blame the youth of particular communities, especially the black youth, for creating a “law and order problem”. The communists, numerous working class organisations and progressive political forces in Britain are boldly contesting the official line, pointing out that it is the State controlled by the capitalist monopolies that is to blame for destroying cultural institutions and denying any future for the youth, and then portraying the victims as criminals!
The immediate trigger for these riots was the shooting by the police in cold blood of a youth, Mark Duggan, by the police in Tottenham, London. The long-term trigger for these riots have been the savage attacks on the livelihood and rights of working people in the name of "austerity measures", accompanied by intensified state repression targeted at youth from particular immigrant and minority communities. In short, the racist and anti-human offensive of big capital has created conditions for youth frustration and anger to explode.
The riots are taking place at a time when the “austerity measures” of the government have hit the working class youth extremely hard. Over one million youth are unemployed in Britain today. No less than 75,000 young people are statutorily homeless and over 600,000 live in overcrowded homes according to official statistics. The Educational Maintenance Allowance, which previously ensured that many were able to attend college, has been abolished. Universities have been allowed to triple their fees a few months ago. There are now more black people in prisons in the Britain than there are in its universities!
Budgetary cuts have led to the closing of youth centres and the brutal reduction in other services for children and young people. With the hours of work per week going up, more and more young people are out of work. Youth unemployment in London stands at 23%. Nationally, the gap between rich and poor has been dramatically increasing, the top richest 10% being 100 times better off than the poorest.
The stifling conditions and the complete lack of hope in a better future are bound to lead to disquiet among the youth. To deal with the disquiet that is natural, police powers have been increased leading to more young people being harassed and imprisoned. The killing of Mark Duggan is but the latest in a line of shootings of people at the hands of the police and at least 333 deaths in police custody since 1998.
Over 2000 people were arrested in the aftermath of the riots. Many of the court sentences have been unusually harsh. The state is preparing the ground for further repression.
The Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) has pointed out that “Youth are being denied a future. They are being blocked from having any say in shaping the future. The state itself promotes violence and anarchy; and then blames the youth”.
The working class and broad masses of people in Britain can see that the giant profiteering banks and big corporations are being protected with various bailout packages while they, the producers of wealth, are being denied any protection by the state. They are refusing to blame the youth for the problems afflicting society, which is what the government wants them to do.
The past year has witnessed massive protests of workers and student youth in Britain against the “austerity” measures and the increasing fascist deprivation of rights. The British working class and all progressive forces in the country are demanding that state repression and criminalization of youth be stopped immediately; and concrete steps be taken to address the problems of the youth. These include scrapping the funding cuts, reversal of tuition fee hikes, repeal of stop and search laws, increase of the job seekers advance and more. Communists and all modern democrats have vowed to hold the government accountable and not to let state repression and criminal portrayal of youth pass.