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I predict a riot…or not

BRITONS don’t riot, my friend Nick Cohen famously told the readers of his Observer column a couple of years back. Yet even as the first copies of the paper were hitting the newsstands outside Kings’ Cross, buses were being overturned in Tottenham. Within days, the disturbances had gone nationwide.

The irony is that in 2009, the Observer’s daily stable mate ran a front page splash based on an interview with a senior copper, which suggested that this country was in for ‘a summer of rage’ as ‘middle class anger at economic crisis’ erupted into violence on the streets. Needless to say, nothing of the kind occurred.

Predicting riots is clearly a game best left to the Kaiser Chiefs. Yet that hasn’t stopped others having a go. Just after Christmas, the Labour leaders of Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool used the letters page of Nick’s publication to warn that the coalition’s cuts will see ‘the forces of social unrest [start] to smoulder’.

The latest prognosis comes from Yves Daccord, head of the International Red Cross, who told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme this week that he was expecting a rerun of 2011, again by way of readily anticipatable reaction to austerity.

These are easily generated alarmist headlines, as the right will no doubt point out. I have no idea what will happen in the months ahead, and neither do those who venture into print with claims to 20/20 foresight.

But my sense would be that such forecasts are as difficult to rule out as they are easy to make. Cameron and Clegg cannot afford to be complacent.

One Comment

  1. Rob the cripple says:

    Riots well this is a rehash of something long gone, will we do it again maybe, but not to remove a government.

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