Riotous Assembly: British Punk’s Cultural Diaspora in the Summer of ’81

  • Matthew Worley
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


Britain’s newspaper headlines made for stark reading in July 1981.1 As a series of riots broke out across the country’s inner-cities, The Sun led with reports of ‘Race Fury’ and ‘Mob Rule’, opening up to provide daily updates of ‘Burning Britain’ as the month drew on.2 The Daily Mail, keen as always to pander a prejudice, described the disorder as a ‘Black War on Police’, bemoaning years of ‘sparing the rod’ and quoting those who blamed the riots on a ‘vociferous immigration lobby’ that sought ‘excuses all the time for the excesses of the blacks’.3 The Daily Express wrote of a ‘permissive whirlwind’ wreaking havoc; the Daily Mirror combined coverage of ‘Riot Mobs’ with condemnation of a Tory government that failed to recognize ‘real, deep and dangerous problems’ rooted in housing, education and unemployment.4 Britain was ‘close to anarchy’, the Mirror insisted, as it juxtaposed images of battered police and broken windows with a message to Margaret Thatcher: ‘Save Our Cities’.5


Social Commentary Break Window Music Industry Abrasive Wheel Daily Mail 
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© Matthew Worley 2016

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  • Matthew Worley

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