Fed by conditions of the British economy the 1976 anti-state anti police riots in South London set the stage of what was to come. The hated "Sus" law gave the police the power to stop and search anyone they wanted, a power they used to hassle young men and immigrants on the street often violently.
By 1977, the had Queen started her silver jubilee tour and the country celebrated with street parties and buying commemorative tea cups and silver coins. Prime Minister James Callaghan opened the latest stretch of the M4 motorway. Almost oblivious to the real state of Britain.
South Wales saw a four month long bread strike. British capitalism had fallen further and further behind her main rivals. In 1960 Britain's share of world trade in manufactured goods was 16.5 per cent. In 1976 it had fallen to 7.0 per cent. For example, with shipbuilding, a Liverpool industry, Britain's share of world production in 1955 was 26.6 per cent; in 1976 it was 4 per cent.
The Midland Bank Report of May 1977 says: 'Economic miracles seem at a discount, and the prospect is for no more than a minor upturn in a long recession.'
Even Italy the other sick economy of Europe had increased their share of world manufactured exports by nearly one half since 1974.
The Chancellor, Denis Healey, boasts to fellow industrialists that Britain now has the cheapest labor of all the industrialized countries. For the UK it was $3.37. Japan had increased her wage rates by practically three times since 1970 reaching $3.32. In France the hourly pay in industry was $5.47. West Germany was $6.21 and even workers in Italy exceeded that of British workers reaching $5.51 per hour. The United States rate was $7.26, the second highest in the world to Sweden.
In 1970 there were 8.2 million people employed in manufacturing in Britain , but by 1977 the total was only 7.2 million.
In June 1977, The Banker, listed the top 300 banks in the world . Not one British bank is amongst the ten largest banks. Barclays had slipped to twelfth place, National Westminster to twentieth, Midland to fortieth and Lloyds to forty-second place.
The Economist of 23 April 1977, points out: Britain's pessimists believe that private industry is more likely to slide from recession to total extinction.
1977 was a critical year in the history of UK popular music and related sub-cultures, the year that punk, dub and reggae went over overground in the UK. Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves (famously covered by The Clash) 'had blared out from a speaker dangled from an upstairs window when anti-fascist demonstrators attacked the National Front march in The Battle of Lewisham during August 1977. Lewisham was to become the largest violent political event in many years. Many thousands of people had turned out to oppose the fascists, and it was the first time that riot shields had been used in the UK.
By 1977 Great Britain was in ruin, it was an economic and social disaster, and government official figures confirm it. For males under 25 the outlook was particularly bleak, with unemployment for this segment in Liverpool and Manchester running above 30%. Manufacturing output had fallen, new building development had fallen, personal income, living standards and consumer spending were all lower than 1974 and the outlook appeared no better.
Disco fever and wealthy rock stars were polluting the charts and the radio, Donna Summer was ranting and the Average White Band were blabbing out happy tunes. But, the movement had started, and The Clash and The Sex Pistols were storming through the British projects trying to energize an out of work generation. Banned by authorities, and misunderstood for their actions, they provoked counter-attack after counter-attack, as local councils and authorities worked to shut it all down. The Pistols switched names and venues, and the Clash fired through Britain spreading the word with Joe Strummer as the three chord ambassador.
Below; World in Action social documentary describing 1980 Liverpool, suburb Birkenhead.