‘Who the hell’s defending if they’re going to walk out of here?’

The Moss Side Defence Committee

in Race and riots in Thatcher’s Britain
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This chapter provides detailed discussion of the Moss Side Defence Committee, through local and understudied national records and original interviews, which is often overlooked in discussions of 1980–81. The Defence Committee, formed to aid those arrested in relation to the disturbances, vehemently opposed the Greater Manchester County Council-established local inquiry into the Moss Side disturbances, and organised a boycott. It was later suggested that dichotomous local responses to state mechanisms allowed progress: that radical groups, such as the Defence Committee, ‘being noisy’ allowed moderates previously unattainable access to the authorities – but the extent to which this was a conscious tactic is debatable. The chapter ends by exploring unstudied interviews with residents and inquiry proceedings, demonstrating the high level of accusations of police misconduct not appearing in the inquiry report, and the continued discontent created by such exclusions.

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