There will be no riots here!

The report of Professor Bauld ‘warning‘ a Holyrood committee of ‘social unrest’ as some tire of the lockdowns, has been jumped on and is now everywhere.

No doubt, Prof Bauld’s words will have been simplified and magnified for maximum shock effect by our trusty wee churnalists. They’ve done worse.

I’m guessing that the research by Roberto Censolo and Massimo Morelli: ‘COVID-19 and the Potential Consequences for Social Stability’ in Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, published on 26th August 2020, is the source.

Here’s an extract to give the flavour of their findings:

With the COVID-19 crisis, protest movements seem to have lost their voice all over the world. “Liberate Hong-Kong”, the environmental activism of Greta Thunberg, the “Gilets Jaunes” in France or the “Sardine” movement in Italy appear greatly weakened since the outburst of the epidemic. According to a Freedom House annual report (Repucci 2020), out of the 20 protest movements active world-wide in December 2019 only two or three are still active. At the same time, the disarraying impact of the epidemic on the network of social and economic relations combined with the restrictions imposed by governments to prevent mass infection are causing a latent sentiment of public discontent. The “virus conspiracy” argument and the denial of the seriousness of the epidemic, which spread in public opinion and are disconcertedly supported by several political leaders, are the symptom of potentially dangerous frictions inside society. Moreover, it has been stressed how the epidemic impacts on collective psychology (Torales et al. 2020). Anxiety, depression, and stressful social relationships tend to trap individuals within the private sphere, so that the social ties of protest movements necessarily loosen. However, this psychological effect may direct social moods towards a higher degree of aggressiveness, such that the level of social conflict in the post-epidemic period might be expected to increase. In this perspective, we may say that the social and psychological unrest arising from the epidemic tends to crowd-out the conflicts of the pre-epidemic period, but, at the same time it constitutes the fertile ground on which global protest may resurrect more aggressively once the epidemic will be over.

Then the authors say:

We argue that we can form an informed opinion about the possible effects of COVID-19 on protest initiatives and future social unrest by looking at the great plagues of the past.

That’s where I start to think and when I see the evidence they bring to bear, I think, no.

Their evidence of unrest is all from the period of the Black Death in London 1346 to the Spanish Flu in 1919 and all in large population centres with pre-existing conflicts based on ethnic or religious differences.

They have nothing from the later 20th Century and, critically for our purposes, nothing from the smaller, more secular, North European countries.

That pandemics have been commonly followed by civil unrest within countries with a recent history, or with current sources, of social unrest is far from surprising but in countries like Norway, Denmark or Scotland where irrational belief is at an historical low and where the habit of street riots is only a distant memory, who really believes we’ll see any significant social unrest?

In our poll tax ‘riots’ of 1990 was there a single death? Was one building burned? Even in the 1918 ‘Battle of George Square’, there were no fatalities.

Now, in Birmingham or Manchester or London, I’m not so sure.

7 thoughts on “There will be no riots here!”

  1. BBC ‘s Radio Station in Scotland Call Kaye: Linda Bauld was on just after she left the programme about 9.40am. On came an old Codger, asking about Civil Unrest, (he’d heard an expert talking about this) will the army be brought in , and will they be armed, his informed scaremongerring was adressed by Prof. Steven Reicher .

    Next up was a phone voiced old dear who wanted everyone to know she liked L. Bauld because she was not political, but that she didn’t like Jason Leitch because he was out to make a name for himself. (Ie. A confident Scotsman)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think, too, that the level of trust in those in authority is a factor. With populations which are well-educated and who have access to sources of information – such as the internet – then people can make informed judgements of what those in authority are saying. In the context of Covid-19′ The FM, Ms Freeman, Mr Swinney, Professor Leitch, etc. have been pretty frank and forthright throughout and have been prepared to admit that they have changed their minds on occasion and have made efforts to engage directly with the population, in the face of largely hostile and negative media who have sought to obfuscate and foster confusion. Polling evidence suggests very high levels of trust.

    In England, with a proven liar in charge, with reversals of policy happening with regularity, with sparse meetings of government with the populace and a wilful lack of information in the media, then levels of trust in the authorities is markedly less. In addition communities have been much more fractured than in NI, Scotland and Wales (despite the obvious reservations re sectarianism) where I think there is a stronger sense of ‘the common good. In such circumstances, I think unrest is more likely. Sadly, it often expresses itself in internecine conflict between groups, such as ‘black on black’ or local fascists harassing Jews and Muslims, etc. The privatised education system removes a sense of community. Local authority schools emphasise ‘community’ and give a way of influencing young people, who are often those who get involved in social unrest.

    Having lived in Glasgow all my life, I am not naive about bampots, but, in my view Glasgow is a far safer place than it was in my youthful years in the 1950s and 60s. Now in my 70s, I am not concerned about walking streets late at night or going into miscalled ‘bad areas.’ Of course, there is a possibility I might get attacked, but my risk assessment is that the chances, though finite are low. I am more likely to fall off my bike after slipping on a patch of mud or wet fallen leaves.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Possibly because, to the chagrin of my sair-trachled mammy, I did indulge in some bampottery, in my late teens. (These were the ‘swingin sixties’ after all.)


  3. The BritNats would absolutely love to see some rioting in Scotland, they might even facilitate it, put nowt past them.

    As for England, well, if there is any ‘civil unrest’ there and it’s almost guarenteed given the mishandling, shambolic approach taken by the Tory government, it can only be a riot of six anyway. Don’t they have a new ‘law’ coming in where people can’t meet up with more than 5 others anywhere except work or school. An actual ‘law’, not a rule, not advice but it seems to be a new law. Wow. People might get a bit frustrated and riot in groups of six then and it will be about Brexit, both sides, not CV19.

    Liked by 1 person

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