To the credit of the SWP they did not join the chorus of the left’s condemnation of the so-called riots. Their main failure was that they didn’t develop a concrete tactic, a programme for action in the uprising. But we will deal with this later.
What has to be said here is that the SWP failed to grasp the full meaning and importance of the uprising. They failed to see that it was part of a pre-revolutionary development in the British society. Therefore they had no perspective to spread the struggle but dealt with them like an isolated riot in a district somewhere in Britain.
In addition to this they had no aim to organize the black and migrant youth independent from the petit-bourgeois leadership of the communities. This leadership was one of the reasons why it was possible for the ruling class to bring the uprisings to an end. There was a big campaign going on in the communities organized by the leaders to get control over the actions of the migrant and black youth to “bring them home”, i.e. to stop the uprisings.
This is not surprising if one remembers the SWP’s opportunistic adaption to the Muslim business men and community leaders when they built together with the RESPECT party for several years in the 2000s. In the end this project failed: the party had no success at the elections and the SWP left RESPECT. But while they have broken with a failed project they have not broken with the popular-frontist method behind it.