Flames that reached high into the night during the August ‘riots’ illuminated more than burning buildings and cars they cast a penetrating light on the way the youth and poor working class communities have been neglected for decades under this and previous governments. The flames also shone a light on the future, the total destruction of working class communities or a united working class struggle fighting for socialism.

The flames of the Arab revolution also showed us something, dictators can be overthrown and like in Libya important victories can be achieved quickly, as in Tripoli, when there is mass support for change. But we warn that in Libya that victory cannot stop there, now the struggle must continue against NATO, foreign control and the Transitional National Council.

The youth in England protested creating panic amongst the political and ruling elite of this country, at the same time a riot was shattering the stock markets of the world which escalated the economic crisis in the USA and Europe. The shockwaves that spread through the financial markets following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008 created a financial maelstrom which is out of control and is continuing to sweep across the world causing chaos and resulting in direct attacks on the world’s working class.

The living conditions which sparked the struggles against dictatorships in the Middle East can be glimpsed in Britain: one million youth unemployed with disproportionate levels amongst the immigrant and Black working class, daily police harassment against the youth and Black communities, deaths at police hands, harassment of the unemployed, no grants for 16-19 year olds, tripling tuition fees, benefit cuts and cuts to youth services. With nothing on offer young people took to the streets spontaneously.

Across Britain in 1981 black communities experienced SUS laws, saturation policing and harassment which led directly to serious conflict between them and the police. The conflict was no surprise to the majority of people who lived in those areas as since the 1970s warnings had been given that conflict was imminent if serious issues were not addressed. In the late 1970s and 1980s evidence was gathered by working class groups about the experiences of the Black youth and there was evidence of serious levels of intimidation and harassment, racist practices and racist behaviour by the police. On top of this Black communities suffered disproportionately from unemployment, poor housing, no social amenities and with very high levels of policing. Then the political and media response was the same as today to focus on images of black ‘rioters’, ‘looters’ and ‘arsonists’, ‘muggers’ and ‘thugs’.

But his crisis of capitalism has been created by greedy, immoral, self-seeking bankers and speculators who for decades have been allowed to rob and loot, fuelled by “a pathological sense of entitlement”, and who continue to receive colossal bonuses despite having to receive bailouts from public money. In collusion with imperialist governments they devastate and pillage countries across the world in an attempt to own and control the wealth and resources of the world. They exploit and extort with no regard for human life and suffering. Across the world it is the working class who are paying for their crises with cuts and privatisations to essential working class services and with hard won gains being ripped from under their feet shattering lives and communities. This is the backdrop to and cause of the youth uprisings which politicians are too afraid to face up to.

Trade unions must lead

Today the ruling class is preparing to use a high level of repression against the growing opposition to their plans which will include the use of plastic bullets and water cannon. Plastic bullets are lethal weapons; in Northern Ireland they killed 17 people 9 of whom were children and none of whom were involved in ‘rioting’ with no-one from the army or police force ever being convicted.

Trade unions must begin to campaign against the increasing militarization of policing and build links of solidarity with the youth and all communities to defend them from police harassment and the daily humiliations they suffer, and call for trade union led community inquiries into harassment. Furthermore we must involve them in the fight to defend and extend public services, to fight for jobs, decent housing and decent areas. We must also call for an immediate end to the reactionary draconian penalties that have arisen over uprisings.

All our struggles must contain a conscious political aim. There is no escape from the impending economic decline, mass unemployment or the destruction of health, education and welfare services without a united movement of the masses as in the Arab countries. So a trade union leadership that calls on workers to accept some cuts, continues to negotiate while others are on strike and postpones their struggle to wait for a Labour government is a betrayal. We need a united struggle that will continue until the working class gains power and control in society through its own organisations that can move towards the construction of a socialist society.

The British working class needs a revolutionary party of its class to fight for that aim and advance that struggle today.