Unrest that seemed epoch-making a year ago has changed little. That is surprising—and worrying
Aug 4th 2012 | BIRMINGHAM AND LONDON
ONE of the worst incidents of last year’s riots took place at the Bartons Arms, an ornate Victorian pub in the Aston district of Birmingham. Criminals set it alight, then shot at police officers on the ground and in a helicopter; six people have been jailed for up to 30 years for the ambush. But, with the help of its punters, the pub soon opened again. A scorch mark on the bar is the only reminder of the carnage.
Virtually the only trace in central Birmingham is a marketing ploy. After the windows of Cyber Candy, a sweet shop, were smashed, its hoardings were daubed with the words “Keep Calm and Candy on”. The slogan now adorns balloons in the window. The unrest “feels a little bit like a dream,” says Casey Rain, a local musician who chronicled the tumult on his blog. “Once all the damage was cleaned up, people just tried to forget about it.”
The riots that began in London on August 6th last year, soon spreading to Birmingham and other cities, seemed at the time to be an outbreak of mass lunacy. Now those few anarchic days feel instead like a mass hallucination. The closest analogy in recent history may be with the death of Princess Diana. Like the fevered week of mourning in 1997, the riots seemed set to be epoch-making; yet, a year on, so slight has the impact on politics and policy been that it almost seems as if they never happened at all.
Read More >>