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Britain’s inner cities could erupt in response to public sector cuts

Nick Clegg: UK could face “Greek style unrest”

There is mounting concern among black community organisations that the brunt of the huge public sector cuts will produce a hugely magnified effect on some of Britain’s poorest communities that could lead to major civil unrest.

On Sunday Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg warned that the UK could face “Greek style unrest” if the election produces a Government with a wafer thin majority in an interview with the Observer Newspaper.

“Imagine the Conservatives go home and get an absolute majority, on 25% of the eligible votes,” Clegg said. “They then turn around in the next week or two and say we’re going to chuck up VAT to 20%, we’re going to start cutting teachers, cutting police and the wage bill in the public sector. I think if you’re not careful in that situation… you’d get Greek-style unrest. And so my warning to people who think the old politics still works, is be careful for what you wish for.”

Throughout the last two months Greece has seen massive social unrest. Strikes and protest at the austerity measures put in place to tackle the countries huge deficit.

Clegg comments follow a similar strong warning from Lee Jasper Chief Political Correspondent for the Voice Newspaper in which he warns of a repeat of the civil disturbances of the 1980’s in many inner city areas.

In that article Jasper warns that,

“The current economic downturn is aggravating an already serious situation. If nothing is done to tackle the growing level of unemployment and poverty of African, Caribbean and Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities then within the next 3-5years we will see a repeat of the civil disturbances witnessed in the 1980’s.”

Speaking about the increased level of black and ethnic minority unemployment rates Jaspers states;

“Increased levels of unemployment cannot be sustained without serious social consequences. What happens to communities when long-term unemployment rises is an all too familiar pattern of urban decline, increased poverty and crime, deteriorating health rates, falling education standards all combining into a descending spiral of inner city misery.”

With Black and ethnic minority workers being employed disproportionately in the private sector and suffering the highest levels of acute poverty of any communities in the UK Jasper warns,

“Social and economic deprivation issues within our communities were acute prior to this current recession. With the prospect of more unemployment exerting greater pressure onto an already stressed community we can safely predict that something has to give.”

There is now a growing consensus that the incoming Government must act to prevent poor and deprived communities being left devastated as a consequence of facing huge rises in unemployment and cuts in public services.

Whatever happens in the election this issue cannot be ignored and it will be important that our communities press the politicians on how they intend to avoid civil strife that would be devastating for poor communities and the country at large.

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