The feral political underclass is moving in

Self-appointed defenders of white society are taking advantage of Britain's anger and disillusionmen

Last Tuesday night, the Klan rode again. Not in Alabama or Mississippi, but in South and West London.

In Eltham and Ealing, hundreds of self appointed defenders of white society took to streets. They were not vigilantes but "patriots". There not to intimidate but "to protect".

"These are local people, not EDL, these are patriots who have come out to defend their area", explained the eponymously named Jack England, the EDL's south-east regional organiser. He then slightly gave the game away by adding, "The EDL has come down, about 50 of us, to manage them and control them, and to sort of guide them to make sure they don't move out of order."

Jack's definition of "out of order" is unclear. According to the Daily Telegraph's report of the scene, "as the number of people swelled, the mood became increasingly violent as suspected looters were chased and set upon."

What constituted a "suspected looter" is unclear. But I can guess.

A local cab driver I know spoke warmly of the night's events. "There were some naughty boys up there," he said, "Some Millwall. Some EDL. It all got a bit tasty."

It got tasty all right. A bus carrying black youths was set upon. Then, not content with targeting "suspected looters", the defenders of white decency turned on the police with bottles. Eventually hundreds of officers from eight different police forces dispersed them.

All of this took place in Eltham. Approximately five minutes walk from where it had all turned tasty for Stephen Lawrence.

Those currently urging against an "overreaction" to the events of last week should pause to consider what happened in Eltham. Personally, I find it sickening.

As I see it, a group of racist, political opportunists joined with a slightly larger group of broadly unpoliticised football hooligans, who in turn joined forces with an even larger group of beered-up, south London corner boys to indulge in a bit of old-fashioned black and paki bashing.

But I'm not deluding myself. Because I know that, in thinking that, I'm in the minority.

Some say the English Defence League was active in Eltham. But whether this is true or not, surely white communities are allowed to protect themselves too?

Who wrote that? Nick Griffin? EDL leader Stephen Lennon? Nope. Daily Mirror columnist Tony Parsons.

The mainstream political class is already moving on. Demanding enquiries. Seeking the reason why.

And moving in behind them are our very own feral political underclass. The EDL. The BNP.

Those who have a long history of smashing and looting and assaulting their way into the public consciousness sense an opening. Actually, not so much an opening as a gaping chasm.

As Britain burned, Nick Griffin's Twitter feed could hardly contain its glee:

Well I did say that the police failure to get tough in Tottenham would lead to more trouble. Should be all over TV that, just as Nick Griffin foresaw the London bombings with what the Crown Prosecution Service called "uncanny accuracy", I called this one too.

Stephen Lennon boasted of 1,000 EDL members patrolling the streets, and claimed, "We're going to stop the riots, police obviously can't handle it".

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament have been groping for answers, David Cameron from his new US super-cop, Ed Miliband from his DIY public enquiry.

But the rest of Britain isn't. It knows what lay behind the riots. Go into any pub. Stand at any supermarket check-out or any bus stop. The riots were caused by rapacious, predominantly black youths with a bag of crack in their pockets, gangster rap on their iPods, and hate and contempt for authority in their hearts.

There are underlying causes, of course. And again, Britain knows what they were. Our rampant benefit culture. Wastrel parents. Idle teachers. And, of course, immigration.

Mainstream politicians are wringing their hands over the wisdom of spraying water at rioters or evicting them from their council houses. Meanwhile one in three Britons would endorse firing live rounds at them.

Of course Britain is wrong. But Britain isn't interested in hearing that at the moment. It's scared, angry and disillusioned. And the focus of their fear, anger and disillusionment is not the BNP or the EDL.

We are in a dangerous place. A horribly dangerous place. Enquiries and soul searching are luxuries we cannot afford. Now is not the time for nuance or abstraction.

The political class needs to get ahead of the curve. It needs to park the liberal angst and the calls for understanding.

If we have to promise water cannon, promise them. If we have to threaten to use baton rounds, threaten. If we have to prepare for troops on the streets, prepare them. Demand exemplary sentences. Reverse the police cuts. Pledge to look at curtailing the use of social networking sites.

Above all, demonstrate that the state does not need to subcontract its obligation to ensure order on our streets. Because if the state doesn't do the job, others will. People do not like vigilantes. But nor are they prepared to stand back and see their communities handed over to those who beat and burned and looted with apparent impunity.

Last week, in Eltham and Enfield, the Klan rode again. And much of white Britain cheered them as they passed.

 

Photo: Getty
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Theresa May's magic money tree is growing in Northern Ireland

Her £1bn deal with the DUP could make it even harder to push through cuts in the rest of the UK.

Going, going, gone...sold to the dark-haired woman from Enniskillen! Theresa May has signed a two-year deal with Arlene Foster, the DUP's leader, to keep her in office. The price? A cool £1bn and the extension of the military covenant to Northern Ireland.

The deal will have reverberations both across the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland specifically. To take the latter first – the amount spent in Northern Ireland in 2016/17 was just under £10bn. A five point increase in spending on health, education and roads is a fairly large feather in anyone's cap.

It transforms the picture as far as the fraught negotiations over restoring power-sharing goes. It increases the pressure on Sinn Féin to restore power-sharing so they can help decide exactly where the money goes. And if there's another election, it means that Arlene Foster goes into it not as the woman who oversaw the wasteful RHI scheme (a renewable energy programme that because of its poor drafting saw farmers paid to heat empty rooms) but as the negotiator who bagged an extra £1bn for Northern Ireland. 

Across the United Kingdom, the optics are less good for the (nominal) senior partner to the deal.

"May buys DUP support with £1 billion 'bung" is the Times"£1bn for DUP is 'just the start" is the Telegraph's splash, and their Scottish edition is worse: "Fury at 'grubby' deal with DUP". With friends like this, who needs the Guardian? (They've gone for "May hands £1bn bonanza to DUP to cling on at No 10" as their splash, FYI.) 

Not to be outdone, the Mirror opts for "May's £1bn bribe to crackpots" while the Scotsman goes for "£100 million per vote: The price of power".  Rounding off the set, the Evening Standard has mocked Foster up as Dr Evil and Theresa May as Mini-Me on its front page. The headline? "I demand the sum of....one billion pounds!"   

Of course, in terms of what the government spends, £1bn is much ado about nothing. (To put it in perspective, the total budget across the UK is £770bn or thereabouts, debt interest around £40bn, the deficit close to £76bn).

But only a few weeks ago Theresa May was telling a nurse that the reason she couldn't get a pay rise is that there is "no magic money tree". Now that magic money tree is growing freely in Northern Ireland. The Conservatives have been struggling to get further cuts through as it is – just look at the row over tax credits, or the anger at school cuts in the election – but now any further cuts in England, Scotland and Wales will rub up against the inevitable comeback not only from the opposition parties but the voters: "But you've got money to spend in Northern Ireland!"

(That £1bn is relatively small probably makes matters worse – an outlay per DUP MP that you might expect a world-class football club to spend on a quality player. It's tangible, rather like that £350m for the NHS. £30bn? That's just money.)

For Labour, who have spent the last seven years arguing, with varying degrees of effectiveness that austerity is a choice, it's as close to an open goal as you can imagine. Theresa May's new government is now stable – but it's an open question as to how long it will take her party to feel strong again.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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