London-based historian David Starkey’s remarks, about “whites becoming blacks” during debate on the UK riots on the BBC have provoked an outcry throughout the world.
Starkey made the remarks on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last week where he said he had been rereading British politician Enoch Powell’s 1968 Rivers of Blood anti-immigration speech.
He said: “What happened is that substantial sections of the Chavs (classist derogatory term for working class people without social skills and perceived to be without ambition) that you wrote about have become black. The whites have become black.
A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion.”
Starkey said there had been “a profound cultural change” and added that the disturbances and accompanying looting were not riots in the traditional sense, but simply “shopping with violence”.
The remarks have already caused an outcry on Twitter that began with Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn asking the BBC as to why the racist analysis of Starkey had gone unchallenged.
Meanwhile, in a bid to deal with the huge backlog of riot suspects in London, a court which had been processing the backlog conducted business yesterday in a move thought to be unprecedented.
City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in Central London is reported to have opened one courtroom so it could continue dealing with the hundreds of suspects who have been charged with violence, disorder, arson and looting offences.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the move was unusual but necessary. Officials in London said it was the first time in living memory that the court has been open on a Sunday. Courts all over the UK have been fast-tracking riot suspects after Home Secretary Theresa May insisted everyone involved in the trouble would be brought to justice.
Latest figures from the Ministry of Justice show 1 600 people have been arrested across England on riot-related offences, the vast majority in London.