The Major has made his view very clear:
"Why the bloody hell should we law-abiding taxpayers tolerate a bunch of freeloading welfare scroungers smashing up London? We spend God knows how much on these revolting students - and will still do so even after the fees increase. But just look how they thank us! Why should we give them anything?! If they want to spend three years dossing around and rioting, let them pay for it themselves. And I'll bet half those scum desecrating the Cenotaph yesterday aren't even students at all - they'll be anarchists. And we'll be paying them! Housing benefit, child benefit, incapacity benefit... you name it.
It's time to draw the line - anybody convicted of violent disorder should go to jail - hard labour - and then lose all their welfare benefits for ever. Period. In future, if they want to eat they have to work like everyone else. And if they think they can rob instead, we'll lock them up somewhere where they will have to work. I'll get my mate Gomulka to organise something with the Soviets out East - that'll soon wipe the smile off their faces."
Now, of course, nobody objects to peaceful protest. No, indeed.
Well, that is, nobody objects to peaceful protest as long as it doesn't inconvenience us. And as long as it doesn't require us to pick up some huge tab for police overtime. So long as it takes place on a Sunday afternoon in say, a field somewhere outside Milton Keynes, and so long as the protesters pay for the policing, like in a football match, then everything's cool. In fact, under those circs, we might even allow a little recreational effigy burning - a weekly bonfire night for young people to let off steam. Kind of idea.
But who exactly are these rioters, and who is paying to keep them alive?
According to police hunting down those involved in the previous riot - the one last month at Tory HQ in Millbank - they are mainly teenage students of one kind or another. They say:
"We are finding that many of these people are young students who do not seem to have been in any trouble before. It appears they may have been provoked by more anarchist groups.Provoked by anarchists? Certainly when you look at the wanted poster, one or two do look older than teenage:
From a parent's point of view it must be very concerning. These are young people committing really serious offences which I suspect may result in prison sentences for some." (The maximum sentence for violent disorder is 5 years)
But who are these anarchists exactly?
Google's anarchist UK trail leads straight to the Anarchist Federation. But can they be in any way credible? Are real anarchists allowed to participate in such a restrictive and preposterous construct as a federation? It sounds more like the Mothers' Union. Besides, there's something seriously hollow about an organisation that wants to abolish oppressive government on the one hand, while maintaining Big Government spending on the other.
Googling Operation Malone - the police man-hunt for November's rioters - gives some far more promising leads.
Ian Bone (great name) is a veteran anarchist of 63. During the 80s he ran a newspaper called Class War, featuring pix of beaten-up policemen. And here he is addressing a Class War meeting in 1985 (parental discretion advised - some of his opinions are seriously juvenile - precisely the kind of thing which might appeal to disaffected teenagers at the University of Neverpay):
Anyway, Bone has some blogposts on the current riots that simply blew the Major away. For example, under the headline What a magnificent inspiring day - the London mob is fucking back Mr B writes:
"I salute everyone who atacked the police, the treasury, the Supreme Court, the Royal family, the tax avoiders today – a quite heroic and brave acievement. Full report tomorrow – ALL HAIL – IT’S THE POLL TAX RIOT MARK 2 – ‘we come from the slums of London……"Now that's more like it. According to his own autobiography, Bone is the son of a butler and a housemaid (no, really) and obviously carries deep psychological scars from his parents' life below stairs:
"It is fucking phenomenol. the rich are targets whether its the Bullingdon Club, the Royals or Sir Philip Green... Yesterday was reminiscent of both the poll Tax Riot and the Gordon riots as a rich hating mob stormed through the streets... Organise and celebrate yesterday comrades…but theres more coming the way of the fucking rich…..much more.’WE COME FROM THE SLUMS OF LONDON’All of which is absolutely fine.
Well, fine except for any incitement to riot bits obviously.
But what we need to know is how does Bone support himself?
He has published three books, including the carefully nuanced "Bash the Rich". But given that B the R is currently standing at 76,361 in the Amazon best seller list, you'd have to guess he has some other source of income. And his website gives no other clues.
One of those oldies' jobs in B&Q? At 63 it's possible.
A family inheritance? Seems a tad unlikely.
Money from Putin? In the 80s, Class War and its ilk were widely thought to have been financed by the KGB, so that has to be a runner.
But the Major reckons Bone and his like must be on some kind of welfare deal.
Unfortunately we have no way of finding out.
In this season of goodwill to all men, let's hope someone round at the DWP is looking into the entire question right now.
Meanwhile on an altogether more seasonal level, we've just updated the TaxPayers' Alliance Tax on Christmas paper.
We reckon that taxes on Xmas spending this year will cost the average family £283. The overall bill will be £7.2bn, an astonishing 40% increase on 2008, when we last did the calc.
Part of the increase has been driven by the growth in Xmas spending, 2008 coming immediately after the Lehman crisis. But the majority of it reflects higher tax rates - the hike in VAT from 15% back up to 17.5%, plus increases in various fuel and excise duties.
And the really bad news is that VAT increases again on 4 Jan to 20%. According to Treasury forecasts, the rise will cost the average family nearly £500 pa, taking the average family VAT bill above £4000 pa for the very first time.
Happy Xmas everyone.