Ken Livingstone and David Lammy: compare and contrast

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Well, who’d have thought it – Ken Livingstone is trying to use the Tottenham riots to further his election campaign. Here he is, blaming evil Tory cuts and crowbarring three attacks on Boris Johnson into a 300-word statement. Even Thatcher gets a namecheck!

The statement issued by Tottenham’s actual MP, David Lammy, who happens to be black, stands in shining contrast. His words, with their clear-sighted rejection of the easy old tunes, show how much the black community – and the Labour Party – has moved on since the days of Ken Livingstone.

Lammy said: “The vast majority of people in Tottenham reject what has happened here last night. A community that was already hurting has now had the heart ripped out of it…by mindless, mindless people.

“What happened here on Thursday night [the shooting of Mark Duggan] raised huge questions and we need answers. But the response to that is not to loot, to rob. This is a disgrace… this must stop. And this is nothing like the sorts of scenes we saw in Tottenham 25 years ago. Then, there was a particular relationship with the police. This is an attack on Tottenham, on people, ordinbary people, shopkeepers, women, children who are now standing on the streets homeless as a consequence…

“I’m concerned that what was a peaceful protest escalated. It seemed to go on for many hours before we saw the kind of policing that was appropriate. What were small skirmishes initially should have been stopped far quicker…

“The IPCC need to be in close contact with the family of Mark Duggan, who felt totally isolated in the initial stages after Thurs night…We don’t want 25 years of rebuilding community and trust destroyed because of mindless nonsense on the streets of London.”

Is it too late to do a swap? Labour would be so much better off with someone like Lammy as its candidate.

PS: Livingstone’s self-appointed amanuensis, Dave Hill, has been talking up the prospects of a “long, late summer of riot and rage,” “grimly confident” that there could be riots in “a dozen other parts of inner-city London any day.” Which parts is, of course, unspecified.

Don’t get too excited, Dave and other bourgeois revolutionaries – the evidence is that civil disorder strengthens the hand of authority, and harms those who challenge it. Last year’s student protests virtually evaporated after the Parliament Square riot. The antics of the Black Bloc in the West End undermined the TUC’s peaceful anti-cuts demo.

And by the way, if you’d actually been in any serious riots, you wouldn’t be so sanguine about the prospect of more.

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