Before we undertake a more detailed sociological analysis of areas such as Newham, or – even more concretely – districts such as East Ham, we shall first attempt to present a more general picture of social conditions in parts of Greater London and elsewhere in the UK. As we shall see, it shall be the rise of a certain racial polarization – concretely manifested in different forms of ethnic-based segregation – that will constitute our key focus in this paper. However, and in keeping with our observations presented in the research framework of this study [cf. Paper 1], such polarization is merely one of the many dimensions evident in the various localities in and around London.
In 2016, two of the UK’s most important “integration experts” – Professor Ted Cantle and Professor Eric Kaufman – had undertaken research work on the question of social segregation in their country. Entitled “Is segregation increasing in the UK?”, the findings of their paper were published and discussed in, inter alia, Open Democracy UK [cf. https://www.opendemocracy.net, 2.11.2016]. With respect to this work, Chuka Umunna – Labour Party MP and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration [APPGSI] – would write: “This report, authored by two of our country’s leading experts on social integration, uncovers a picture that is more segregated by ethnicity than many of us have cared to admit” [my emph.]. Cantle’s and Kaufman’s work has also been discussed by Martin Robinson in Mail Online [cf. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3895772/White-ethnic-communities-growing-apart-towns-cities.html, 4.11.2016]. As already noted, the central most important concern of such discussions can be summarized as follows: racial polarization has crystallized as an important social phenomenon in at least certain geographical regions of the UK. Here, we shall consider some of the more salient implications of such a reality.
With respect to the Cantle-Kaufman report, Robinson introduces his Mail Online article as follows: “Britain’s white flight: Report reveals how racial segregation has risen ‘strikingly’ in just 10 years – with numbers of whites in some areas down by up to half” [my emph.]. It would perhaps be oversimplistic to explain this phenomenon in terms of some single factor. And yet, its gradual surfacing in the course of the last decade has been accompanied by the continual influx of new migrants, at least as regards certain areas of Greater – and especially east – London [as also in other parts of the UK of course, but which will not much concern us in most of the papers we shall be presenting]. It is known that new migrants tend to congregate around and concentrate in areas which are already characterized by the presence of ethnic minorities [and which is closely related to the phenomenon of ethnic-based clusters of communities, or communities within communities – something to be discussed in greater detail below]. Such congregation and concentration has naturally had the effect of exacerbating the already existing ethnic-based divisions at the local, community level, and which could result in what has been described as “White flight”.
This “striking” rise in social, ethnic-based segregation – and which has meant a polarizing isolation of one ethnic group vis-à-vis another – has above all had an adverse effect on the numerical presence of the cockney element in areas such as East Ham. Linking the influx of new migrants to ethnic polarization, the Mail Online article would note: “Cockneys are becoming a minority in east London… which is the UK’s most multicultural borough, with 70.000 immigrants arriving over the past 15 years”.
The phenomenon seems to be pervasive – Robinson observes: “White populations in towns and cities are dwindling at record levels and in extreme cases have halved in a decade”. This progressive decline in the number of the White British population has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in the presence of ethnic minorities. Areas where one may observe such demographic mutations include Birmingham, Leicester, Slough, Luton, Bradford and, of course, London. At this point, it would be useful to present some statistical evidence on the mutating presence of the White British population in some towns and cities between 2001 and 2011 [based on census data of the UK Office for National Statistics]. To begin with, we may note that the England average of White British presence in 2001 came to 86.8% – by 2011, it would come to 79.8% [down 7%]. Taking twelve towns and cities as samples, demographic change regarding the presence of White Britons appears as follows, by percentage:
● BLACKBURN with DARWEN
● TOWER HAMLETS
As is apparent, these statistics speak for themselves with respect to racial polarization within areas of cities and towns. But there are two observations that need to be made here. Firstly, and as is evident from the 2001 figures, the significant diffusion of non-White ethnic groups in cities and towns of the UK obviously predates the period covering the last ten years. What is nevertheless highlighted here is the continual dwindling of the White British population in these areas, whatever the measure of their original presence. Secondly, and much more importantly, all of these figures do at times present a rather distorted picture of the forms that social, ethnic-based “apartheid” takes in the various localities of the UK. This is so because the above statistics refer to towns and cities en bloc – i.e. not to specific localities or neighbourhoods within such towns and cities, where the segregation is most dense, as also most visibly obvious.
Perhaps the most important finding of the Cantle-Kaufman report is that the more ethnically “mixed” an area is, the greater is the isolation of ethnic minorities from the White British population. One therefore sees an inverse proportionality between the degree of de facto “mixture” and the degree of planned “integration”. This is how the report itself puts it: “Where areas have become more mixed, minorities have generally become more isolated from the white British”. And the report goes on to explain: “This is a function of the decline of the white British population in those towns and cities in absolute numbers and relative to the increase in minorities in the same areas” [my emph.]. And the report concludes: “This results in a growing isolation of the white majority from minorities in urban zones”.
With respect to this basic finding of the report, Robinson comments: “The study… shows that, while England as a whole is more ethnically mixed, white and minority groups are now more isolated from each other”.
David Goodhart, Director of the Demos think tank, has further verified the reality of such a situation in the UK. He has held that “cities are becoming segregated thanks to white retreat” [as quoted by Understanding Society, based at the University of Essex – cf. https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/case-studies/white-flight-the-emerging-story].
We note that Goodhart’s observation is made specifically with respect to cities – similarly, the Cantle-Kaufman report had found that ethnic isolation and polarization is mainly evident in the urban areas. The report had observed that this pattern of polarization – and especially the actual pace of changes it has wrought – had been most striking in towns and cities, some of which had seen a decrease in the White British population of more than 50% between 1991 and 2011. We may add here that research bodies such as Understanding Society would further support the positions of both Goodhart and Cantle-Kaufman – this Essex-based “Household Longitudinal Study” has itself observed that most ethnically diverse wards are “urban and poor”, and it is precisely from such wards that Whites are departing.
Matthew Goodwin, writing for Quillette [3.08.2018], points to the major demographic changes caused by migration and the public response to such changes. This response, which would help shape the popular ideological discourse galvanizing the Brexit movement, should itself be seen as symptomatic of the rise of polarization as discussed in this paper. Goodwin writes: “Large-scale migration… fuelled widespread public concern about how rapid and often unprecedented demographic change was radically transforming communities” [my emph.]. Such radical transformation at community-level would be a tangible, experiential reality for millions of White Britons. This could really not have been otherwise considering the scale of the migrant influx. Goodwin notes that, by 2016, “Nearly eight in ten people wanted to see immigration reduced”.
The phenomenon of racial polarization has been acknowledged by a variety of analysts across UK’s political spectrum. John Denham, Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Winchester [and who is a former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister, as also Director of the English Labour Network], has pointed out that “race and faith… still have the power to divide us” [my emph., cf. his published lecture, “A nation divided? The identities, politics and governance of England”, Open Democracy UK, 16.8.2018]. We note that when Denham attempts to address the problem of what he calls a “deeply divided” England, he cannot possibly escape the question of “identities”, and how these affect the governance of a “divided nation”.
Perhaps it should be clarified at this point that such “deep division” based on ethnic “identities” may at times not only be limited to the Muslim-White Briton or Hindu-White Briton interface. Internal ethnic minority cohesion – and which is the grassroots catalyst for the emergence of social “apartheid” – may also be observed amongst, say, Croats. This dimension of polarization – to the extent that it is of any noteworthy significance as regards the question of governance – will not much concern us here. But as to the question of discreet ethnic minority cohesion and identity amongst the Croatian minority, we may quote a certain physics PhD student at Imperial College, by the name of Jakov, who says: “It’s quite a cohesive community… if you’re looking to share a flat, you’ll probably do it with someone from home”. Thus, and although there may here be no trace of whatever hostility towards other ethnic minorities, one may yet again discern the pervasive phenomenon of ethnic groups clustering around themselves. Interestingly, the Croatian community is organized around the British Croatian Association [successor to the British Yugoslav Society], which coordinates a variety of cultural events, expressive of the Mittel-Europa art and music tradition. Another focal point, more popular amongst the older generations, is the Croatian Church in London. For the sake of interest, we further note that the official number of Croats residing in London is rather small – the embassy puts it at between 7.000 to 10.000, though that is most probably an underestimation [such statistical discrepancies being quite usual when it comes to the presence of ethnic minorities in the UK, it being symptomatic of the anarchic nature of such presence]. Many Croats migrated to the UK following the 1990’s wars in former Yugoslavia; the influx continued when Croatia joined the EU in 2013 [cf., for most of the above information, Evening Standard, 11.07.2018].
The Croatian case simply allows us to underline the fact that the general reality of ethnic-based polarization need be seen as a manifestation of social behaviour along a spectrum of possibilities signifying degrees of social entropy [in the sense of degrees of social “disorder”]. Thus, one could perhaps categorize the Croatian presence as an instance of latent or passive polarization – in contrast to, say, the more extreme cases of Muslim-based gang matrices indicating overt or hostile polarization. While a continuum indicating degrees of social entropy is certainly observable, the easy distinction made here between Croatians and Muslims remains quite haphazard [not to say possibly biased], requiring further research. One caveat to such type of distinction could perhaps be the Polish-White Briton interface [or that involving East Europeans generally], which is said to have been prone to “racist abuse” on the part of Britons, especially following Poland’s accession to the EU by 2004 and more so in the context of the 2008 economic crisis [cf. Alina Rzepnikowska, “Racism and xenophobia experienced by Polish migrants in the UK before and after Brexit vote”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Taylor & Francis Online, 03.04.2018].
The racial polarization and concomitant segregation – both of which are observable quantities in the UK – has naturally evoked a variety of what we may call emotional responses on the part of those who remain almost religiously devoted to the moral tenets of “integration” and its related hybrids [for some such advocates, “integration” ought to leave some room for multiculturalism, or should achieve some degree of harmony with the latter]. As to the emotionalism of such responses, we could here consider the former Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, who spends his time “warning” UK civil society that “the ‘majority retreat’ of white British people from inner-city areas is hindering the integration of new immigrants” [cf. Understanding Society, op. cit.]. For intellectuals such as Phillips, a root cause of social inequality and minority peripheralization is racial discrimination itself [cf. our Research Framework, Paper 1], and which means that integration would be the cure-all for the social maladies of UK society. It is the “retreat” of White Britons that has been the main impediment to such cure-all, and thus the likes of Phillips – as also the Equality and Human Rights Commission – articulate an ideological discourse of lamentation, usually describing the plight of ethnic minorities and immigrants, and how these experience the “race-based prejudice” or “religion-based prejudice” of others.
The data produced by bodies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission cannot be dismissed as inaccurate or as merely ideologically-laden cries and lamentations. In fact, the findings of the Commission inadvertently reveal the objective reality of racial polarization [and thus the limits or crisis of multiculturalism/integration] as one dominant dimension of UK society. We may here consider just two sample texts representative of such findings. One of the Commission’s texts describes the reality of “inequality” as a social phenomenon dependent on one’s ethnic or racial identity – it writes: “… Black African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani people are still the most likely to live in poverty and along with Black Caribbean people are more likely to experience severe deprivation, which is damaging their health and education and work prospects. Some ethnic minorities have poorer access to healthcare and higher rates of infant mortality, and black people have low trust in the criminal justice system” [cf. Equality and Human Rights Commission, Latest news, 25.10.2018].
Such ethnically-based or racially-based social “inequality” goes hand-in-hand with racial prejudice – yet another text produced by the Commission attempts to verify such prejudice statistically. Its research has found that “… in the past year  70% of Muslims surveyed experienced religion-based prejudice, 64% of people from a black ethnic background experienced race-based prejudice…”, etc. [ibid., Latest news, 11.10.2018]. One may accept such findings as objectively accurate – but need we say that such degrees of prejudice are ipso facto symptomatic of ethnic or racial polarization? Of course, it is one thing to attempt a sociological explanation of such a reality [viz. its tangible socio-cultural ideologies defining relations between different social groupings] – and it is quite another thing to morally lament the absence of understanding between, say, London’s settlers and London’s cockneys.
Intellectuals such as Trevor Phillips have been – as said – “warning” White Britons that their “retreat” from the inner-city areas of London is “hindering” ethnic integration. Such hindrance has had the effect of triggering the phenomenon of social “apartheid” – in effect, this has yielded a distorted form of multiculturalism whereby each ethnically-based cultural cluster maintains its own autonomy vis-à-vis the other. The likes of a Trevor Phillips choose to “warn” their compatriots – on the other hand, those who experience the reality of an ethnic-based “apartheid” merely scoff at multiculturalism, seeing this as some kind of ideological utopianism. On examining socio-cultural conditions in the UK from a “rat’s-eye view”, the Indian journalist, Hasan Suroor, poses the following rhetorical question: “Multiculturalism anyone?” He is, quite cynically, responding to the self-imposed segregation between ethnic groups that he can see spreading in UK schools. [We shall have to come back to the observations of Suroor].
Now, we have spoken above of a sliding scale of polarization within UK society indicating varying degrees of entropy. Thus, the autonomy of different ethnic clusters in relation to one another may take the form of a mere latent or passive differentiation between communities. But it could – as it has – also take overtly hostile forms. Such forms of behaviour occur when a variety of contradictions fuse, and – yet again – their manifestation is not always uniform. One of the most extreme forms of hostility hinged on ethnic polarization is the phenomenon of mass rioting [yet another form is armed attacks organized by the so-called Muslim “terror nexus” – for a discussion of this rather controversial issue, cf. “A tentative sociological examination of the political economy of the Muslim ghetto in the Western world of the 21st century”, gslreview.com/tentative-sociological, 15.02.2018].
The phenomenon of ethnic-based mass rioting has, on and off, plagued the modern social history of the UK. Much has been written on this – most of the available material seems to be either extremely biased or simply unreliable as to the exact facts. One thing is definite: the so-called “race riot” history of UK society has not been the object of any serious critical research. Here, we shall merely present some of the more basic data – based mainly though not exclusively on information available in https://en.wikipedia.org – with the prime purpose of indicating the relative frequency and geographical spread of the phenomenon:
● 1980: the St. Paul’s riots in Bristol, following increasing racial tensions and mainly involving Black youth. Arrests are said to have come to 130.
● 1981: race riots across England and between different ethnic communities – for instance: the Brixton riots in London; the Handsworth riots in Birmingham; the Chapeltown riots in Leeds; and the Toxteth riots in Liverpool. In that same year, we also had the Moss Side riots in Manchester – the latter involved violent clashes between Asian and Afro-Caribbean immigrants.
● September 9-11, 1985: race riots in Handsworth – again, as in 1981.
● September 28, 1985: Similarly, we had the important Brixton riots in Lambeth, south London. It is said that the Afro-Caribbean community of Lambeth, following the 1981 riots in the area, had lost its trust in the Metropolitan Police, believing it to be “institutionally racist”. Police had reinforced such community feelings in 1985 after they had attempted to arrest a youth involved in “turf-war” between local gangs [we shall examine the question of “turf-wars” in a forthcoming paper]. The Afro-Caribbeans had reacted to police practices, triggering the riots. Subsequent rioting had spread to areas such as Peckham, Toxteth [cf. the events of 1981], and Tottenham, north London [especially in the Broadwater Farm estates area].
● 1989: the well-known, albeit minor, Dewsbury riots in Yorkshire – these riots had taken place following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. They had occurred in the context of Muslim protests all over England in 1989, objecting to the publication of that book [similar protests had also taken place in Bolton, Greater Manchester, north-west England, in 1988]. Dewsbury, with a dense Muslim community, is considered to be one of the most racially divided areas in the UK.
● 1991: Handsworth riots – again, as in 1981 and 1985.
● 1995: the Manningham race riots, in Bradford, West Yorkshire – taking place in the summer of that year [9-11 June], these riots have been seen as the precursor to the major Bradford riots of 2001. One version of the catalyst to the 1995 rioting was when a crowd of thirty youths had gathered outside the Jamiyat Tablighul Islam mosque after prayers. For reasons that remain unclear, the police had tried to arrest one member of this crowd and friends had come to his support. Violence ensued, with the local police station being patrol bombed, etc. Assistant Chief Constable Norman Bettison, of the West Yorkshire Police, had stated that what he had seen was “… a community tearing itself apart”. There are other versions explaining these events, though all lay emphasis on the interminable race-based friction characteristic of parts of the city of Bradford, these being divided by heavy ethnic-based segregation. It is said that riots and other “racial disturbances” have being persistently occurring in the Manningham part of Bradford, especially since the mid-1990’s.
● May 2001: the Oldham riots – an intense period of violent rioting which occurred in this town of Greater Manchester. These were the worst ethnically-motivated riots in the UK since the 1980’s, even briefly eclipsing the sectarian violence seen in Northern Ireland. The Oldham riots were the first in a series of major riots throughout the summer of 2001. Similar ethnic conflicts were to follow in Burnley and Harehill, Leeds, June 2001 [cf. Max Farrar, “The Northern race riots of the summer of 2001 – were they riots, were they racial? A case-study of the events in Harehill, Leeds”, Leeds Metropolitan University, 18.05.2002]. Of course, the Oldham, Burnley and Leeds riots were to culminate in the historic and well-documented Bradford race riots of July 2001.
● July 2001: the Bradford riots – these constituted an extremely important [as also highly intense] period of race rioting which commenced on 7 July of that year. They occurred as a result of heightened tensions between the large and growing British Asian communities and the city’s White majority population. Bradford had traditionally been a White working class city. By the time of the riots, however, the city had come to have the second largest population of South Asians in comparison with any other city of the UK. It had accepted an influx of approximately 68.000 Pakistanis, 12.500 Indians, 5.000 Bangladeshis and 3.000 other Asians [i.e. approximately 88.500 non-Whites, in toto]. And yet, the majority of people in the city remained White [ethnicity: 78.3% White; 19.1% Asian, according to the 2001 census]. Demographic morphology had come to be shaped in terms of ethnic clusters or ethnic communities within communities – thus, while the South Asian population in Bradford had grown sizeably, there were areas which remained mainly White. And there were other places which were now mainly South Asian. Ethnic clustering in the city of Bradford was especially conspicuous – for instance, Bradford Moor was composed of 67% South Asians; Toller had 64% South Asians; while Manningham’s residents were as much as 74.5% South Asian. These localities stood in stark contrast to places such as Tong, which was home to 93% Whites; or Wibsey, with a concentration of 91% Whites. Essentially, it would be the underlying friction between these deeply ruptured ethnic clusters that would ultimately come to fuse and explode into the 2001 race riots.
The Bradford riots were said to have been spearheaded by an estimated number of 1.000 youths. On the nights of 8 and 9 July, groups of between thirty and a hundred White youths attacked Asian-owned businesses, in the Ravenscliffe and Holmewood areas. A notable point of the rioting was the firebombing, undertaken by South Asians, of the Manningham Labour Club, which at the time was a recreational center. A 48-year-old Asian businessman was jailed for twelve years, said to have been responsible for the arson attack.
In the wake of these several race riots of 2001, the Government would commission the well-known Cantle Report for the Home Office [with respect to Prof. Ted Cantle, cf. above; also cf. https://www.theguardian.com/profile/ted-cantle, 03.12.2013]. Prof. Cantle’s team would attempt to explain what it was that had so deeply ruptured “community cohesion” in the city of Bradford. One of their basic findings was the de facto “antipathy towards some communities” [my emph.; cf., as well, Martin Robinson, op. cit.]. Further, writing in The Hindu in 2010, Hasan Suroor [op. cit.] had this to say as regards the 2001 race riots and the observations of the Cantle Report: “An official report on the causes of the 2001 race riots in Bradford found that its white and Asian residents were living “parallel” lives with their own neighbourhoods, their own schools, their own places of entertainment and their own little social circles. And that is pretty much true of Britain as a whole. Even a city like London, though legitimately proud of its cosmopolitanism, is dotted with glorified racial ghettoes – a result of years of white flight” [cf. “White flight and segregation in U.K. schools”, The Hindu, 12.03.2010, my emph.]. It is this separate living of “parallel” lives – precisely at the level of tight and exclusive “little social circles” – that allows us to speak of a self-imposed “apartheid”. The latter cannot possibly be evident within the “cosmopolitanism” of The City [which we shall examine in some detail in forthcoming papers] – but it is visible to the naked eye at the level of neighbourhoods, schools and spaces wherein cultural practices are materialized on a daily basis. Now, it is when such “parallelism” is compounded with mutual “antipathy” that one may see polarization take on violent forms, as happened in Bradford.
The Bradford riots would have an overwhelming effect on the psyche of the British people. In 2001, the State ideology of “multiculturalism” and/or “integrationism” seems to have suffered a certain loss of internal cohesion and public legitimacy. As was to be expected, the ideological organs of the UK State would proceed to respond in a variety of ways so that their central ideological discourse be revitalized in the face of such crisis. The Cantle Report for the Home Office was one such response – its more “scientific” attempts to explain the riots in terms of ethnic-based “antipathies” were not really meant for the wider public [though newspapers such as Mail Online – amongst others – would go ahead and comment on some of the Report’s findings]. On the other hand, the popular masses would be treated to rather coarse ideological manipulation: the idea was to reduce events to a clash between communities as instigated by extremists. Much more importantly, the “life world” and plight of White Britons – given the continuing influx of South Asians in their city – would be completely overlooked. The basic ideological organ of such manipulation would be none other than the BBC. In 2006, Channel 4 produced a so-called “non-fictional” drama directed by the British Asian Neil Biswas, entitled “Bradford Riots”. The film tells the story of the 2001 riots exclusively from the perspective of an Asian family – and it would promptly win the Arts Council England Decibel Award [intended for artists of Asian, Black African or Black Caribbean descent]. We know, of course, that it would be precisely such mainstream ideological bias that would turn the average Brexiteer against media such as their own public service broadcaster. It goes without saying that the Bradford riots cannot be understood unless one fully examines the feelings of Asian families in the area – but it is as obvious that the task would remain imbalanced unless the feelings of the White community would also be taken into account – in fact, the feelings of the one could not be understood unless directly related to those of the other. “Parallel” lives within a given geographical space are necessarily entangled.
● 2005: a recrudescence of the Birmingham riots of 1981, 1985 and 1991 – the city of Birmingham was to experience race rioting yet again in the areas of Lozells and Handsworth. Both areas are composed of densely-populated and diverse ethnic clusters. Lozells, an inner-city area of west Birmingham, has a high population density of Afro-Caribbeans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. The population of Handsworth, in northwest Birmingham, is two thirds Muslim. The riots ensued following ethnic tensions between the Black Caribbean and the British Asian communities of Pakistani origin. There was one fatality.
● 2007: the Dewsbury riots – these are said to have been “minor” riots, in no way approximating the scale of, say, the Bradford riots of 2001. They involved clashes between Iraqi Kurds and Pakistanis in the areas of Ravensthorpe and Savile Town [the latter has a population density of 97%-100% Muslim]. According to locals, the clashes were ignited by the fact that Asian girls had been pestered for sex by the Iraqi Kurds. During a week of ethnic tensions, riot police would be called in to deal with the running battles between the rivals. Local businessman Vinny Burman would comment: “It goes on all the time. There is a lot of conflict” [cf. https://www.thepressnews.co.uk, 4.1.2008].
● 2008: Dewsbury ethnic-based clashes – again said to be relatively “minor”, these involved violent conflict between Hungarians and Pakistanis [the case is of some interest, especially with respect to racial polarization involving East Europeans and/or Europeans originating from the former Warsaw Pact countries]. The rival groups clashed in Ravensthorpe, along the Spen Valley Road. The Pakistani community was reacting to claims that an Asian girl had been “touched” by Hungarians. The latter would respond by chasing young Asians with machetes and knives. According to one resident: “The Hungarians just decided to go to war” [cf. https://www.thepressnews.co.uk, ibid.].
● 2011: riots across many cities and towns of England – the significance of these primarily ethnic-based riots may be compared to that of the events of 2001. The 2011 riots occurred between August 6 and August 11, when thousands rioted in several London boroughs and in various cities and towns right across England. Three major social groupings were to spearhead the unrest: [i] Black youths related to gang networks [constituting the majority of those involved]; [ii] Asians; [iii] others of mixed race. The resulting chaos would generate looting, arson and the mass deployment of police. There were five fatalities.
What was to ultimately develop into nationwide violent unrest would first begin with protests taking place in Tottenham, north London. These were instigated by the death of Mark Duggan, a local man who was shot and killed by the police on August 4. Duggan, 29 years old at the time of his death, had grown up in Broadwater Farm, north London [cf. the September 28, 1985 riots, referred to above]. His parents were of mixed English and West Indian descent.
It has been alleged that Duggan was a founding member of north London’s “Star Gang”, an offshoot of the Tottenham Mandem gang. He is said to have been a “well-known gangster” and a “major player” in gangster circles. According to The Telegraph, Duggan had been “a north London gangster and founding member of a notorious gang linked to the Broadwater Farm estate” [cf. https://www.telegraph.co.uk, 08.08.2011].
The riots, in response to Duggan’s death, would spread like wildfire. Most of the rioting would take place, inter alia, in the following areas of Greater London:
● Hackney, inner-London
● Brixton, south London
● Walthamstow, north-east London
● Peckham, south-east London
● Enfield, north London
● Battersea, south-west London
● Croydon, south London
● Ealing, west London
● Barking, east London
● Woolwich, south-east London
● Lewisham, south London
● East Ham, district belonging to the London Borough of Newham
As is quite evident, the rioting had been concentrated in localities around the Greater London area [including both inner- and outer-London]. But what is of even greater interest is that these London-based events would soon radiate outwards, to the rest of England. Here we would have what has been called “copycat violence” – the rioting would be reproduced in areas such as:
● Birmingham, in England’s West Midlands region
● Coventry, central England
● Leicester, in England’s East Midlands region
● Derby, a city of the county of Derbyshire, in England’s East Midlands region
● Wolverhampton, in central England
● Bristol, in southwest England
● Liverpool, in northwest England
● Manchester, in northwest England
We need point out that the above list of areas where the “copycat violence” was to explode is not at all complete. Further indicative of the scale of the 2011 unrest is that more than 3.000 people were placed under arrest, with at least 255 being sent to jail [cf. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-15611395, 07.11.2011].
The essential element that was to define this 2011 nationwide unrest was that it was [as in all the cases presented here] ethnic- or race-based, and thus points to serious evidence of extreme ethnic or racial polarization. It was also very much expressive of an “anti-social” youth identity rejecting whatever forms of authority or whatever manifestations of culture related to “Englishness” [for an analysis of the anti-Western sub-cultural order of the typical Muslim ghetto, cf. “A tentative sociological examination of the political economy of the Muslim ghetto…”, op. cit. – the reference here is not meant to suggest that the 2011 riots were restricted to Muslim-dominated ghettoes].
Our list of race riots that we have presented above, from 1980 to 2011, is definitely not complete [and we have not in any case attempted to investigate riot phenomena preceding or succeeding these years]. And yet, based on this sample thirty-year period, one can tell that England had been beset with riot incidents on a rather regular basis. We have recorded eleven separate years which would see instances of rioting [constituting one third of our sample period]. Periods of lull from one so-called “riot year” to the next would not diverge much. These could vary from a zero number of years [1980-1981; 2007-2008] to a two-year period [1989-1991; 2005-2007]. Or the periods of lull could vary from three years [2008-2011] to four years [1981-1985; 1985-1989; 1991-1995; 2001-2005]. The six-year lull period [1995-2001] seems to be an exception, unless some piece of information has escaped us.
Of course, any one particular year – of those recorded – may have seen some or other isolated riot event which would not necessarily constitute a symptom of the general state of affairs for that year. On the other hand, we have recorded years which would be characterized by a series of riot phenomena usually operating in the form of a chain-reaction – in such cases, there would be a clear spillover effect. Even more significantly, such spillover effect could further take on the form of a “metastatic growth” of unrest from one geographic region to some other. The single most important factor determining which would be the next region wherein such “metastasis” would reveal itself would be that of ethnic or race identity. That much is certainly verifiable by a simple perusal of the data we have presented above.
Now, having said all this, one risks presenting a picture of UK society which could be quite distorting. No, England’s typical neighbourhood is not always going up in flames. As one walks along East Ham’s High Street – also known as “Little India Street” – one can clearly see the real absence of the cockney element. But there is no evidence of what we have referred to above as extreme ethnic polarization. Both isolated riots and the more generalized spillover riots are part of the socio-cultural landscape of the UK – but these do not much define the everydayness of whichever UK locality.
And yet, within such everydayness, the element of at least a latent or passive ethnic-based polarization remains a part of reality [though never the whole of it, all polarization being – as stated at the beginning of this paper – merely one dimension of UK reality]. To give us some idea of that element of latent or passive polarization embedded in the everydayness of UK society, we present below a couple of observations made by two educated White Britons, both of whom belong to the English Left. On November 10, 2018, Andrew Lydon, writing in the Facebook pages of British Politics after Brexit, would inform his readers about how a Pakistani teenager had clashed with a White woman cashier at a supermarket checkout counter somewhere in the UK. Lydon would make the following comment: “An inch or 2 more of polarization occurred. And this was not because of Brexit, Farage, Tommy Robinson… And this polarization won’t be fixed as far as I can see. It has become more sophisticated in my life time”. In response to this, Tim Pendry would observe: “That’s the culture we now live in… it is producing its own nemesis, of course…” [my emph., cf. British Politics after Brexit, 10.11.2018]. The “nemesis”, of course, is precisely the different forms and degrees of racial polarization that we have attempted to present in this paper.