It's been 26 years since I last remember police cars speeding up my road to the riots at the Broadwater Farm estate in North London. Then - just like last night - a policing incident had been the spark that ignited latent social and political tensions that had been building for years. The previous Tottenham riot wasn't an isolated incident: prior to that there had been riots in Brixton in South London, Toxteth in Liverpool, and Handsworth in Birmingham. And last night the same scenes returned to my beloved city.
As is often noted, we all have a tendency to fight the previous war. Just as the 'quagmire' of Vietnam led to reluctance to intervene in Bosnia (at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives), so too the successes of Kosovo led to the peremptory and ill planned interventionism of Iraq. But Libya is not Iraq. As jubilant crowds fill Green Square, the fall of Tripoli to the rebels is a victory on many counts
If there’s any shred of comfort that come come from the horrors of ten days ago, the bomb attacks in Oslo and massacre of dozens of teenagers in Utøya, it is scant consolation for bereft families or a nation in mourning. The biggest atrocity on Norwegian soil since World War II, and one of the biggest terrorist incidents in Europe in decades, is no occasion for political point scoring. But some good may yet come out of it: the full glare of public scrutiny (and one hopes police attention) has now been turned on the largely ignored growth of extreme right-wing Islamophobia in Europe.