How my hips gyrated at the joyful Notting Hill Carnival

Last weekend was one of supreme entertainment all round. I have criticised recent Notting Hill Carnivals for the content, their artistic side, the crudity of the costuming. I had ceased going to Notting Hill on the bank holiday. But now, its very existence is under threat. So I returned last Monday and had a whale of a time. I plonked myself down with fellow Trinidadians on "San Fernando Hill", a little promontory on the corner of Westbourne Park Road and the Great Western Road, named after the industrial capital of Trinidad.

The recent attack on the carnival has been led by the police, the council and the Mail newspapers. It has its basis in the new, bourgeois Notting Hill, created by Martin Amis and his mates. They pushed the black population further north, and these English nationalists want the festival off what they now think of as their patch. Their representatives in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with a spin-doctor in tow, began a killjoy programme in earnest this year.

They want to control the carnival, allowing only the best-behaved Negroes to take part under stringent conditions. They want the costume bands reduced in numbers, and they want some of the floats banned from the street. Over my dead body, I say. I spent some time speaking to the carnivalists on Monday, inspired by a cacophony of melodies. I told them: they cannot lose when two million people a year attend the event. To spoil their enjoyment would be political bungling of the worst kind.

Last year, there were knifings, thefts, and even deaths. Such things will occasionally haunt any huge gathering, but the detractors of the carnival pounced. Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, put thousands more officers on the streets. The Mail on Sunday, as always, found a person from within the black community to support the Northcliffe House line. They had commissioned Trevor Phillips, but he failed to do the business, so they got a freelance journalist, Angella Johnson. And how she painted the stereotype of the carnival as she claimed it used to be - happy Negroes from north London, in their beautiful organdie dresses, partaking of a likkle dumplin' and fried fish and t'ing, and chipping in a ladylike way to the music. A good time was had by all.

This is nonsense. The carnival had a history of murderous conflict from the moment it threatened success. Violent scuffles between black people and the police were central in its struggle for existence on the street. The violence of 1977 is legendary. I was chairman then. The struggle to keep it on the streets led to that powerful, all-embracing slogan borrowed from a Trinidad Calypsonian called Lord Kitchener: "The road make to walk on carnival day". I published a pamphlet of the same name. Evidence of the turmoil of the period is available to any competent journalist. Yet Johnson has chosen to present carnival as a quiet family day out then, in order to attack it now.

Carnival has never been disciplined by the police; they tend to disrupt, more than anything else. And, once it is challenged from without, we react with a spontaneous discipline that says, "Carnival belongs to us and we shall protect it". Monday showed evidence of that. Calm descended, the crowds were patient, orderly, beautiful, good-humoured, and as many other generous adjectives as one could find to describe it.

Stevens and Johnson should learn to wine on something ("to wine" is to gyrate the hips against a counterforce of similar power). Mangrove Steelband pulled up at the bottom of San Fernando Hill. They played so beautifully, pace and rhythm in order. I got down in the crowds and, with no invitation, began to wine on something. And that is carnival at its best.

Ken Livingstone grumbles about the cost and tries to paint a picture of impending disaster, prevented only by Stevens's army. But nobody asked Robocop Stevens to spend all that money on policing; it was a waste. Livingstone, too, had better learn to wine on something.

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.