Not today

by Dan Hodges

Not today. Please, just not today. Laurie Penny, I think you are a beautiful and gifted writer. But don’t tell me violence cannot be mindless. Or that it is all about catharsis. Not today.

Sunny Hundal, your real and passionate desire to break politics free from its straight jacket of committees and speeches and selection meetings does you credit. But please, don’t circulate any more time lapse photography of people’s homes burning and tell me it’s “brilliant” or that it’s “art’. Not today.

Owen Jones, the working class need a voice, and you are an articulate spokesman. But please, no more hand wringing about the dangers of an “authoritarian backlash” against those who tried to loot and burn our city to the ground. Not today.

Ken Livingstone, you were once a great and radical figure. But no one needs to hear your cheap politicking about your statesmanlike dash from the Olympic awards ceremony. Or your back of the envelope theories about how 14 and 15 year old rioters trashed JD sports because they are not able to provide for their wives and children. Not today.

Boris Johnson, I’d actually liked to have heard something from you. But instead I had to put up with your spokesman Kit Milhouse explaining why it was fit and proper for the Mayor of the world’s greatest capital city to watch from afar as his charge exploded in an orgy of destruction. We’ll no doubt hear the same excuses trotted out often this election year. If we must. But not today.

Theresa May, I understand being the only senior member of the government, (Nick Clegg hardly counts in these circumstances), is tough. But I don’t want to hear any more rubbish about “policing with consent” when that consent has been brutally withdrawn by a small but violent minority. And I’d park the protestations that cutting thousands of police officers won’t have had any operational impact. For today.

David Cameron, I don’t actually blame you for taking a much needed break in Tuscany. And it was nice you made friends with your waitress. But as you sit savouring the taste of your Tuscan Dream please, do one thing for me. For all of us. Don’t tell us we’re all in this together. We are, of course. But we don’t need to hear it from you. Not today.

There is lot we do need to hear.  And lots that needs to be said. About the dislocation of inner-city youth. About the link between crime and poverty. About race and resentment. About lack of employment and educational opportunities. The widening gap between the rich and poor. The politics and the sociology and the criminology. All deserve, indeed require, an airing.

We must debate, and examine, and interrogate. We must argue and enquire and report. We must ask ourselves what sort of society we really want to be, and take a deep look within our own communities, and souls.

We must do all of these things. Just not today.

Dan Hodges is contributing editor of Labour Uncut.

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24 Responses to “Not today”

  1. A very shaken Tory says:

    Agree with all of this. Glad there is some sanity on both our sides.

  2. John Joseph says:

    Thank you for articulating a difficult sentiment so plainly and yet in such a deeply moving way.

  3. Mister Jabberwock says:

    Why haven’t you got a £250K a year Telegraph column?

  4. EnemployedWorkingClassTory says:

    Finally some sanity from the left. A good piece that is not patronizing and deals with our political/media elites.

  5. Les Abbey says:

    Well we know what not to do Dan, but care to give any suggestions what we should be doing?

    I guess I could go up the road and see if there are any really cheap TVs on sale. About time for a new one.

    On second thoughts I think I will point out what John McDonnell says.

    “Reaping what has been sown over 3 decades of creating grotesquely unequal society,with alienated young copying ethos of looting bankers.”

    Yes I think I will go with that.

  6. David says:

    Brilliant, spot on. No time for a motormouth, spouting off pet theories or petty politicking. This is a moment of trauma for the country as a whole, and we need to unite behind non-violent protest and an end to this madness. We can look at the causes, if there are any, later.

  7. NeilMc says:

    Don’t agree with your politics normally Dan, but if the Labour party were run by people with this type of maturity and understanding, I would fear for Libertarian parties. Well done indeed. Seems Alex Massie, Spectator, was right.

  8. Elliot Kane says:

    Absolutely spot on! Well written!

  9. Richard says:

    “Well we know what not to do Dan, but care to give any suggestions what we should be doing?”

    Les, he does, at the end of the article.

  10. Anon E Mouse says:

    Dan Hodges – If the views you articulate here were shared by the Labour Party I’d start voting for you guys again….

  11. Simon says:

    John McDonnell is a disgrace for trying to excuse the violence as some sort of class war. Bollocks. The kids that are out on the street have had everything they could possibly need thrown at them over the last 13 years. This is 13 years of New Labour shite coming back to bite us on the arse.

  12. Mark Grayling says:

    The phrase “if not now, when?” springs to mind. Of all days it should be today. Create an underclass and eventually it will behave as an underclass.

  13. Biffo says:

    A sensible comment from the Left. I’m a lifelong Conservative, and I have hated the Left all my life, but in the far-off days of the Fifties and Sixties Labour people were broadly patriotic, and it’s good to see that in some instances this instinct has survived.

  14. Matty says:

    Yet, yesterday Dan has written a post at New Statesman about the political implications for the black community. Are there 2 Dan Hodges?

  15. Jimmy says:

    What Dan said.

  16. Charles says:

    I only hope Labour will learn to permanently ignore these people, they exemplify the attitudes that have maimed this country and allowed these riots to happen.

  17. Red Pen says:

    Listen, I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve got.

    I fought against oppression when I was at Roedean. Then Oxford.

    Then I almost didn’t get the job I wanted at the New Statesman. Not straight away. But I fought with my dad, and made him bloody well pull a few strings and I made things happen.

    So don’t tell me about the street.

    You don’t realise the sacrifices I’ve made to help you people. I’m a fucking good writer. Why else would I get my own column in The New Statesman (above all kinds of people with much broader life experiences).

    All the guys I know – Jonny Marbles, Charlie Gilmour, Johann Hari – are continuing in a proud tradition of left wing protest. The guys who pull the cameras down off Dixon’s upper shelves are only doing that because they’re standing on the shoulders of Emily Pankhurst, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Nelson Mandela.

    How dare you dismiss the events in Croydon as copy cat rioting? Johann Hari wouldn’t go anywhere near the south of the river.

    At least the BBC is sticking to the script, and asking every rioter if this is something to do with Tory cuts.

    And they’ll keep asking and asking, until they get the answer they like.


    Red Pen

  18. Leon Wolfson says:

    If not today, when? After more days of this? After it’s been hidden away under a tide of police, to flare back up at the slightest provocation?

    The causes are quite clear, in the way New Labour and now the Conservatives have both attacked those without jobs, even for short periods, not dealt with rising inequality and inflation in food and fuel and finally, for the Conservatives, instituted a plan which will drive many in the areas of out them. How do their kids, then, connect with a community they’re being ripped away from?

    No, the time for statements by leadership, that they’ll do something about the cause, is now. Sadly, it seems that balancing the need to condemn and to do something about the causes is too much for ANY politician today, they all need both hands to simply grab hold of condemnations.

    This is yet another mono-dimensional right-wing call, sadly. And it won’t do a thing to change what’s happening out there. Now, back to watching for trouble spreading this way…

  19. BeeJay says:

    Red Pen @ 9.55

    “I fought against oppression when I was at Roedean. Then Oxford”

    “So don’t tell me about the street”

    Are these statements to be taken seriously?

    I fought against oppression (during Thatcher’s years) being educated in a state comprehensive whilst living in a ‘sink estate’.

    You have no idea about the real street, oppression or deprivation.

    Your comments do untold damage to the cause of the left, the working person and, make an easy target for those who seek to undermine the cause of the impoverished.

    Anyone who espouses views such as you have posted above is no ally of the left!

    Roedean ….. Oxford …… when the heck did the left lose it’s way so dramatically??

  20. Matty says:

    Good grief Beejay can’t you spot satire when it’s not just staring you in the face but giving you a headbutt at the same time?

  21. Lucien says:

    I agree with Dan.

    The attitude of the middle class hard left in recent days has been disgraceful. Perhaps they should take a stroll down to Clapham and tell local shop owners how they don’t blame the looters who just set fire to their livelihood.

  22. Matty says:

    Well, it’s not today anymore it’s tomorrow so I guess Dan is free to make political capital and he does writing in the New Statesman “Neither Boris Johnson nor Ken Livingstone are fit to lead London.” What was so special about yesterday? Hang on, on twitter yesterday Dan Hodges tweets “I’m not propagating a myth of compassion. I’m saying call out the army”
    What a hypocrite! or am I misreading this article?

  23. Rod Howard says:

    Does Hodges realise the U.K. is bigger than the Westiminster village?

  24. jacky treehorn says:

    Beejay,how embarrasing that your so thick you don’t understand satire.
    Probably has something to do with the comprehensive education your wonderfull
    Labour party and left wing educationalists forced on to the working class.
    I was born and brought up on a council estate and my first job was in a factory that was built in Victorian times,a real dark satanic mill if ever there was one.
    If anybody has done damage to the working man,surely it was the labour party and their encouragement of mass immigration which kept wages down.

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