What can The Young Ones teach us about Thatcherism, part two: ‘Race’ and the Police in the 1980s

New Historical Express

The Young Ones debuted on British television in November 1982, just over a year after the large scale inner-city riots that swept across Britain. The 1981 riots resulted in some of the biggest examples of urban unrest on the British mainland in the post-war period and resulted in millions of pounds in damage and several hundred arrests. The riots were a reaction to the socio-economic policies of the Thatcherite government, but at the same time, were the product of years of police harassment experienced by Britain’s ethnic communities. The riots have been characterised as a rebellion by African-Caribbean and Asian youth to the racism of the authorities, the criminal justice system and the far right that was a day-to-day occurrence for them. But it was not just African-Caribbean and Asian youth involved in the riots, with many scholars pointing out that 60% of those arrested were white. Hatred of the…

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