Viewpoint: The Toxteth riots

Toxteth Riots

Dr Richard Phillips, School of Environmental Sciences, said: “The riots that took place in Liverpool in 1981 have been called a turning point in British politics. They put many issues on the agenda. While the media dramatised the problems of inner cities and Mrs Thatcher sent Michael Heseltine to drum up some private sector investment in the city, the people most directly affected by the riots had a different priority: the police. The riots gave voice to grievances about the policing of inner cities and ethnic minority communities, and started a process of change.

“The events that took place in Toxteth in July 1981 are still vividly remembered. We interviewed people who were involved. One man in his forties, then a teenager, remembers the strength of feeling: ‘I’m trying to restrain the euphoria, even after all this time I can feel a rush.’

“Remembering the riots has been a way of moving forward. As one member of the Liverpool-born black community told us, ‘this was a legitimate protest’ and a turning point. It meant saying ‘hang on, let me understand what’s gone on in the past and try and understand why I’m here and why this is so …’”

Dr Richard Phillips and Diane Frost have edited a new book about the Toxteth riots,  `Liverpool 81: Remembering the Riots’, which is published by Liverpool University Press.  Staff and students are entitled to a 35% discount.  Contact Janet Smith on 0151 794 2233 if you wish to order a copy.

(Photograph by Goff Tinsley, reproduced by permission of Liverpool University Press)

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