Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Wild Ones

Daily Mirror from the Earlier Riot in May 64
It's hard to imagine that fifty years ago, this weekend, the 'Mods and Rockers' were fighting it out on the beach at Margate.

As a small boy, I can remember seeing the running-battles with the police, an army of black leather jackets, like ants across Marine Sands, from the clifftop at Westgate. There were also a few brief skirmishes that spilled into Westgate. The town was a very different place then and I think everyone wore a dress and a tie; perhaps even both. Those were the days when we never locked our house and people commonly exchanged a cheery 'good morning' when they passed each other in Station Road. The big houses in the town were normally owned by single families and so the population was a fraction of the 6,000 or so it is today.

In those days, much like a 'Just William' novel, small boys like me, wandered around freely and nobody worried where I might be. I  recall seeing one 'Rocker' hiding behind a bush along the seafront, when he saw I spotted him he pulled a switch-blade and threatened me and so I made myself scarce very quickly. This same individual was involved in skirmish at the junction of Station Road and Roxburgh Road and threatened my father. To this day I can remember, very proudly, that this was not a wise move and I never saw him again.

Changing the subject but remaining with bored young-men seeking violence and adventure, I see even the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling for the revocation of Jihadi passports today and I suspect, that the BBC aside, a great many people are sympathetic to his proposition.

Daniel Hannan writes a thought-provoking piece in The Sunday Telegraph today.

I can't imagine anything worse or more dangerous than bringing 'John the Jihadi' back to this country for a criminal show trial, even if he and his crazed associates could be caught. Last night, Sky News used the expression an 'English Jihadi' but this opens a can of worms over what it actually means to be English today; the test of 'values' that Government is wedded to but that is derided by some cultural groups who have no wish to share our common values, even if they could be properly defined.

Not Quite as Blade Runner Imagined it
The problem that faces our society and most immediately our Government is loosely in two parts. The first is structural/technological unemployment, which is sweeping through the western economies and threatens the work prospects of all those who can be cost-effectively eliminated from the workforce (and expensive pension rights) by increasingly sophisticated and clever machines. The example I give in my lectures, is that while processors, following Moore's Law of 1965, may have improved a 1,000 times, algorithms and the business processes they support, have improved 43,000 times faster than that. The rise in self-employment and zero-hours contracts illustrates this very clearly, both here and the USA but politicians won't discuss it and continue to make welfare, pension and employment promises, as if they were in the late 20th century and not the early 21st.

The second problem is also born of statistics of a kind and that's swiftly changing population demographics. Yassir Arafat understood the political power of high birth rates. The Palestinian population increased seven-fold in one generation from 450,000 in 1967 to 3.3 million in 2002 and in open-prison which is Gaza, we can see the consequences writ large.

"The wombs of Palestinian women", Arafat said, were the “secret weapon” in his cause. The Israeli government is very much aware of Palestinian demographics.

In Europe, we can see, this part-reflected in a rapidly growing primary school population which is being driven by immigration pressures. We have an ageing, 'indigenous' population which is shrinking across Europe; with France's falling among its fastest. The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times this means quite unavoidably that England's religio-cultural future is a broadly Islamic one within two generations.

Together these present our society with a fertile incubator for radicalism and frustrated self-expression from a growing number of young men without prospects and a real sense of identity outside the highly polarised and self-imposed cultural bubble in which they live. It's a legacy of the Blair years and delivers moments, as we have seen recently, with the black flag of IS, flying openly in parts of London. All the Control Orders in the world are not going to be able to turn the tide of statistics or halt progress. What happens next is up to Government and Government has nothing that looks even vaguely like a solution for the future.

Daniel Hannan writes lucidly today "At the same time, let's stop teaching the children of immigrants to despise the British state. Let's stop deriding and traducing our values. Let's stop presenting our history as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. Let's be proud of our achievements – not least the defence of liberty in two world wars in which, respectively, 400,000 and nearly a million Muslims served in British uniforms."

Back to my own bubble and for a Bank Holiday Sunday, it feel like late September. I'm off to Abu Dhabi, via Istanbul and then Kiev, lecturing very soon and I was somewhat encouraged to see Angela Merkel in Ukraine yesterday.

I was in Kiev at the end of last year; just before the problems all 'kicked-off' and I'm rather hoping I'll be in and out again before the next large Russian aid convoy comes into view. Borispol has one of the most spartan and least attractive, post communist  airports in the world, so this time around, I'll bring my own Mars Bar, a drink and something to sit on, while I wait for my flight home to Heathrow. There's a real money-making opportunity for a Starbucks concession there or even another trolley with a coffee urn!


Anonymous said...

Simon, that newspaper cover and the link both say 18th May 1964, therefore several months more than 50 years ago this weekend.

Simon Moores said...

Yes I know.. the big battle.. as covered in BBC SE news was this Bank Holiday weekend but I can't find a cover shot..

Still Even More Bemused Of Birchington said...

Of course August Bank holidays were on the first Monday of the month in 1964, but every agency, including the BBC, seem to have overlooked this small fact.

I was serving overseas at the time and was extremely angry that my home town should be the scenes of such violence.

Simon Moores said...

Good point...!

Anonymous said...

How about in addition, we teach the 'native' children not to hate the foreigners? I see more trouble created in Cliftonville but young drunk British people whereas have encountered no problems in the migrant community. If I was abused regularly for being different it wouldn't take me long to dislike the abuser. I'm ashamed to be British when we encourage divisions and hatred hence the rise of extreme parties such as UKIP.