Night of shame

The disregard for human life, the looting, the wanton destruction of the fabric of our communities and the violence against the police made for scenes of absolute horror – the like of which we have not seen on the streets of London.

Like everyone else – I watched the horror unfold on breaking news throughout the evening and night – as what started in Tottenham spread across our capital city and beyond.

The bloody scenes of violence, peppered with raging fires, indicate that we have people in our communities who care nothing for the rule of law and order, nothing for human life and nothing for peoples’ livelihoods. And there can be no justifications and nowhere to hide from such behaviour. We all need to stand together on this and condemn all those who perpetrated these acts. No ifs – no buts.

David Cameron will chair an emergency meeting of Cobra this morning – and no doubt there will be following announcements on actions to be taken to restore law and order to our streets.

0 thoughts on “Night of shame

  1. Of course people condemn this, what a daft statement. There is no law and order, the situation is completely out of control. The only positive example of “standing together” is the communities that are out on the streets defending their property.

  2. I cannot agree more with you; this is an absolute disgrace to the UK.
    These people are acting with so little thoughts as to the concequences, that the mindless violence can only be described as almost neanderthal.

  3. When he was on the outside, Nick Clegg did warn about riots on the streets if government cuts came to pass. Apparently 8 out of the 15 youth clubs have been closed in Hackney due to these cuts which leave kids with time on their hands on no-where to go. In some cases these youth clubs may have been places where kids could get advice and have contact with responsible adults who offer guidance. All gone now.

    Hope you are proud of yourself Lynne.

  4. “David Cameron will chair an emergency meeting of Cobra this morning – and no doubt there will be following announcements on actions to be taken to restore law and order to our streets.”

    I wish I could believe this.

  5. Agree with Matt – our politicians like our police have lost control. Of course any normal person knows what happened is completely wrong but where were our leaders last night: No-where! The first duty of government Lynne (the govt of which you are a part) is to protect its citizens and keep them safe. You have failed in that duty.

  6. Tackle the symptoms while you keep stoking the causes eh?

    That sounds about right – its the same thing every other Tory government has done. The only difference this time is that the Lib Dems are butt licking them.

    Well, you always wanted to be in charge, didn’t you. Enjoying it, are we?

  7. Sorry, but David Cameron should resign. Threre isn’t any excuses for this- but there are reasons. I’m not even saying that government policy is a large factor in the rioting; but what happened last night went quite a bit above and beyond simple “sheer wanton criminality”.

    My god Labour were awful but at least they could keep the country from going up in flames.

  8. I think surely the problem is the *lack* of the sense of communities. These kids can’t be attacking their own communities, if they have no sense of what one is, can they?

    The understanding of the social dynamics by the government seems to be 50 years out of date. In the London I know, most people don’t know their neighbours very well, and people are more interested in making money than making communities.

    We can all stand together and say how we don’t like it. Of course we don’t. But that’s not very helpful is it – what are we going to DO about it? Action is needed, not words.

  9. “Daily Mail, right wing nonsense” – the glib excuse for not engaging with the argument that our educational establishment, with its failed concepts of “inclusion” and “freedom of expression” for students along with fundamentally flawed politically driven structures and policies, has created a feral underclass who are completely disconnected from society, authority and the tenants of good community.

    Stand in front of those burning buildings and tell me this is not true? You know that the hundreds who escaped arrest will be back at home, laughing about this, and their parents who were also brought up in this system, will be laughing along with them.

    This is the depressing truth.

  10. “we have people in our communities who care nothing for the rule of law and order, nothing for human life and nothing for peoples’ livelihoods.”

    …and who appear not to care about their own futures either.

    Kneejerk responses are unhelpful. Clearly the first thing is to make the streets safe again, but I would’ve expected a bit more thought from you Lynne. You sound like you’ve spent far too much time stuck in a small room with Teresa May over the last 15 months. Oh.

    (Not that I envy you that – it must be very hard work.)

    By the way, to some of the posters above, while I’m sure cutting EMA, job prospects etc doesn’t help, these youths didn’t suddently become avaricious, amoral, violent & utterly detatched from all but the most consumerist aspects of “society” in the last 15 months.

    That sort of stupid, ping-pong, empty tribalist politics is one of the many factors that contributed to all this.

    …and one of the reasons why Lynne’s kneejerk response is so profoundly depressing. :-

  11. British Govt. is hosting a Pakistani terrorist ALTAF HUSSIAN with his hundreds of companions. He is a British citizen and deeply involved in Burning, looting and killings of thousands of Pakistanis in Karachi. Don’t you think that hosting such terrorist organizations in London can result these deadly violences?????

  12. We need to teach the value of basic respect in schools – starting with respect for parents – and not on a series of anti-this-ism and anti-that-isms based on an ever-changing iconography of political correctness. Like most things that need practice, respect begins at home.

  13. This is a night of shame that belongs to all of us. We let our society strain to breaking point and swept serious problems into the dark corners where the fires eventually started.

  14. Theresa May has been talking this morning on TV about policing by consent but it was basically asking parents to hand their children in. I think there’s a need to appeal to the kids themselves, and we shouldn’t assume that every kid who gets a Blackberry message that trouble is going to kick off at a particular place is going to want to get involved. For me I think there’s an urgent need for the authorities to provide contact details for people to pass on social messages about trouble, so that they can get prior warning as to where things are likely to happen, and get enough bodies to the right places in time.

    Would love to see the LibDems making a distinctive and successful contribution at this time, based on knowledge of conditions on the ground.

  15. Austerity to anarchy in one year. It’s a complete failure of Government on all levels. Qualified 50 year old males unemployed for years perhaps never to work again, teenagers and graduates laden down by debt unemployed for who knows how long. Britain is a country at war with itself. The Government has no answers except to bring in the water canon, force invalids off their benefit onto an employment market where there are no jobs and to depress the economy further by telling everybody for month after month it is a broken society. Yes, society is broken but it is the Government that is breaking it 😦

  16. Rob – This is not a situation that has suddenly developed in 12 months. The perpetrators of this violence are not the unfairly oppressed or vicitimised by this current government’s policy. This is the very real face of Britain’s streets, disenfranchised youths with no respect for authority, produced by a an education and social system that has been defined by flawed principles, embedded in sociopolitical establishment that has no way to deal with them.

  17. Jamie, I agree it hasn’t just developed in the last 12 months. I was equally critical of much Labour did or didn’t do during office.

    Nor am I making excuses for these people. But every action has a cause and we didn’t have riots of this magnitude in the year before so what has changed?

    Frankly, I would much rather try to get to the bottom of what can be done to put things right rather than find fault with anybody … even the Government.

    The biggest problem, as I see it, is that setting to work to improve and regenerate the neighbourhoods where this violence came from will cost a lot of money and time and that, under the Government’s austerity plans, this is not even on the agenda.

    I found the article below illuminating and it was produced by someone with experience on the streets:

  18. I’m ashamed to be British this morning.

    It’s time to stop talking and do something. Harsh words and good CCTV footage will not stop this happening again.

    The government needs to pull the proverbial finger out and gave police real power to fight this, without the fear of retribution from the legal system post incident.

  19. The Lib Dems in Government have introduced apprenticeship schemes to get young people into good vocational jobs, as well as making University more accessible for people from poorer backgrounds, and cutting income tax on low earners, against a background of spending cuts to deal with Labour’s deficit and debt problems.

    Unfortunately, these measures were too late to stop these riots, but the Lib Dems in particular are looking at long-term measures to address the long-term inequality and deprivation which led to them, as well as leading on scrutiny of the police in the light of the phone hacking revelations in which the other major parties are compromised.

  20. ” … the like of which we have not scene on the streets of London.”

    Government ministers’ spelling is soooooo bad these days. I blame the parents …

  21. Lynne Featherstone: Perhaps some people’s sense of powerlessness stems from them voting for a Lib Dem MP and getting a Tory government.

  22. All very safe comments Lynne, but what do YOU think should be done? I’m interested to hear your ideas and not to have to wait to hear the party line in a few days time.

  23. “the like of which we have not seen on the streets of London.”

    That’s better. B+ for effort 🙂

  24. Paul, thanks for the heads up on that excellent article.

    Dave, the Lib Dems have certainly mitigated the Tory slash and burn propensity but I wonder how much? A lot of what I have seen looks like PR spin with good schemes being ditched and replaced by something insubstantial. Sorry to see you blaming Labour for the deficit problems. It was so obviously a worldwide phenomenon. One might as well blame Cameron for the current worldwide market crashes 😦

    For me, if government is not going to do it, the central problem is how can we incentivise organisations or individuals to help do the detailed work that will sort out the families that live in the inner city poor communities (or even poor communities anywhere)? It’s obviously profitable to design a new play station but where is the money profit in helping sort out social problems? In our economy which is increasingly motivated by money, unless a money value can be put on these things, it’s hard to see real solutions to these problems. Even altruistic organisations (charities etc.) rely heavily on government grants (many of which have now been withdrawn). The government proposals to pay organisations to find long term unemployed people jobs is interesting but the funding is coming from the welfare otherwise paid to the people they are supposed to be helping, as I understand it, which just seems a transfer of money from people in poverty to favoured corporations.

    With North Sea Oil no longer an easy supply of wealth and property inflation credit no longer a driver for our economy, obviously we now need to find new ways to get our economy moving. Sadly, I know many highly qualified men aged 50 yrs or more who have been unemployed (but not in the unemployment statistics) for several years as well as young people who have left university only to find no jobs available.

    We live in challenging times but I fear that too much of the focus is on the consequences (riots etc.) instead of on finding realistic solutions to the actual underlying problems of building a more equal society in which everybody who is willing to contribute can have a share.

  25. Perhaps you could sign a pledge to get control of the streets. That might reassure people.

  26. Total and utter failure by Cameron, May, Clegg and Boris Johnson. Once they’d been persuaded to pack their sun lotion away they put themselves in front of the cameras and did what? Insulted the intelligence of taxpayers and VOTERS.

    Cameron hadn’t got the balls to be near the general public and staged a photocall in isolation. Clegg was booed out of the streets and driven away, because he couldn’t say anything of use. May and Johnson, surrounded by their own Police protection team had no answers for the direct questions of Londoners in Clapham. Johnson especially showed himself to be unfit for office and in the height of rudeness walked away from Londoners asking him questions. An UTTER DISGRACE. May kept her mouth shut, she at least knew better than he that they had no answers to the simple questions they were being asked.

    I commented last night that we, the public, wanted some strong leadership and solutions – ACTION. We got soundbites and bluff. There has been little rioting in London tonight. Why? There’s naff all left to steal and the yobs are tired. Communities have had to protect themselves because the police can’t. Once the 16000 police are gone, the robbers will be back and we’ll be on our own. Meanwhile Cameron’s robust policing has seen much of the Midlands and the north ransacked. If he has the gall to go on TV in the morning and try and project what happened tonight as some kind of success for his ‘robust’ policing I hope he chokes on his tongue.

    The police have been fantastic, my criticisms are not of the men and women on the frontline. They are of the political system and leadership which means there is not the support and cell space to allow the cops to wade in, knock these thugs to the ground and lock them away.

    Call in the army. Let the police arrest the looters, plasticuff them hand them to the army who can hold them in parks, sports centres and the like until we have time to process them. That will get the thugs off the streets and stop the violence. people who loot should be subject to the legal process as amended to deal with the scale of the problem. No calling solicitors, guardians, etc which ties up police resources. Cuff them, hold them, process them later.

    Speak to your boss Lynne, she should go, she’s not up to it.

  27. Lynne, you are the Government. We don’t want condemnation, we want solutions. This has been an abject response so far from your government.

    As for your party, once again Clegg has been humiliated by Cameron – have none of you noticed that the Prime Minister was the only political leader who didn’t actually speak to the communities and face their wrath? Sure, he shook a few police officers’ hands, but no walkabout in Croydon or Tottenham or Birmingham. Once again, the Lib Dems have been thrown to the lions by their Tory bosses.

    Time for all Lib Dems in government to look closely at their bedmates.

  28. Maybe youths should take a bit of responsibility for themselves and not riot in the first place. When I grew up there were no youth centres, plus high unemployment, but I didn’t feel the need to trash and loot and ruin hard working people’s lives. Pathetic.

  29. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has been discussing matters with Tim Godwin, the Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and other security agencies in addressing the current violence impacting communities across England.

    I share the Prime Minister’s view that huge sympathy should go to the families who’ve suffered, innocent people who’ve been burned out of their houses and to businesses who have seen their premises smashed, their products looted and their livelihoods potentially ruined.

    The police officers have shown a great sense of professionalism and bravery in the face of large scale thuggery which they are confronted by. The police should be commended for what they are doing and should be given the authorisation to do what they can to quell the violence.

    There may be cynics suggesting that these riots are rooted in cuts in budgets locally, particularly in disadvantaged communities. I have seen no evidence of this thus far. These riots are, in my opinion, about vandalism.

    If Labour politicians want to ride on the back of the rioters in order to obtain political advantage they should be ashamed of themselves. To the best of my knowledge, we talked about cuts but most of them have not bitten yet. If Labour politicians really believe that, let’s have a list of cuts that they think justified people turning to violence.

  30. Can we stop saying trying to understand why it happened is the same as condoning the actions of the rioters?

    It would be intellectually poor for us not to try to find the root of problems that clearly caused rioting, vandalism and looting on a large scale. It’s not good enough to say it was all down to a few bad apples.

    This is much more of a systemic problem, and saying ‘they are bad people’ doesn’t even come close to explaining it. We all know that already, it doesn’t need repeating any more.

    Of course budgets haven’t helped. Pretending they have no affect is absurd. Of course it isn’t the only reason though – there are many, and they are complicated. Lets not insult people’s intelligence by pretending it is an open and shut case of crime and punishment. Everyone knows there is more to it than that.

  31. Chris is right – we need to establish the root causes of why people behanve that way.

    Ben, to say that because this sort of thing didn’t happen when you were young and that those doing it should take responsibility is naive. of course it didn’t and of course they should. But the fact is they ARE rioting and they AREN’T taking responsibility. It is up to us, the communities and our elected representatives to find out why. The looters are certainly not going to do it, now are they?

    No-one is born violent, just as no-one is born speaking English. they are both learned behavior. i asked people at work today why they thought these kids were doing this and the bulk answer was ‘because they are scum’. When asked why they are scum the bulk answer was ‘because that’s what they are’. Many simply thought these were ‘bad’ people but could not then give any rational explanation as to why I, as a product of a broken home, growing up in a council estate, going to a run down comprehensive and on some form of benefits as a child, have not turned out the way these kids have. It simply did not occur to them that there were reasons my life had taken a different path. they weren’t interested in taking the next step to find out why. It was a pull up the drawbridge and ignore attitude – ‘bung loads of police in, catch them and the problem will be over’.

    If you ask someone why they like chocolate they can wax lyrical about the flavour, the feeling it gives you, the memories of childhood it evokes, they can go on and on. If you ask someone why they don’t like the smell of ammonia or cigarettes they can go on and on about the reasons. That’s where we need to get to in the debate about why this has happened and what things we need to do to turn society around. Simply being outraged, disgusted and saying let’s batter the crap out of them is not going to stop this happening.

    And kemlyn, Thank you! I am glad I’m not the only one who has spotted our politicians hiding from us! How much longer can it be before Cameron has to actually meet some citizens? However, BoJo out and about in Enfield today? Hmm. At least he is out there, but every time he meets Londoners he is shown up for the idiot he is. The woman berating him in Enfield had him as tongue tied as yesterday. The police numbers thing is an cynical attempt to bolster his image after 5 days of his failings being glaringly obvious. Too right he shut up about it after COBRA.

    Heroes of the day? The Wolverhampton woman who faced of 300 yobs threatening to smash her shop up and the father of the young man murdered last night in Birmingham. In my opinion he single-handedly averted a race riot today by speaking up, despite his grief, for peace and civility. they should both be decorated. they should both be called in by Cameron to advise on strategy for they have both shown the intelligence, understanding and willingness to selflessly go the extra mile this country needs. That woman would make an excellent Home Secretary and it is still my belief that there should be a vacancy in that role.

  32. Whilst not condoning the burning and looting of the past week it does seem to me that some of the lessons from Scarman and the Stephen Lawrence Case have not been taken on board by some members of the Met.

    How in heaven’s name could the police shoot dead a Black person in such a ‘sensitive’ area as Tottenham and not give the family the information, care and support that was so obviously needed and so woefully lacking at the time.

    From the reports I’ve read so far it would appear that there were at least two separate police departments involved at the time of the shooting. Both thought the other would deal with the family bereavement and, as to be expected, neither dealt with the issue properly or convincingly.

    It is true to say that Blacks are killing themselves ‘up and down the country’ but does that give the police the right to join in on the act- because this seems to me what’s been happening now for a number of years here.

    The small minority of ‘deviants’ in the Black community who perpetrate the Black on Black killings and think this is the way to earn respect and those errant police officers, in the Met. who think that they have a licence to kill will have to be brought to book. The burden is on the Black communities to do their bit to bring about a change in the attitudes of young Black men. Similarly, the police will have to start doing proper, unbiased inquiries to establish the truth in a given instance otherwise the sense of injustice, real or perceived, will continue to result in people taking to streets.

    Not being fully informed about the facts of the events which led up to the shooting it is difficult to give or make a proper assessment of the issues involved. What is certain is that there needs to be more transparency and accountability on the part of the police. Perhaps there’s also a need to move away from the notion of a Police Force and consider implementing some of the ideas of a Police Service. The former conjures up images and galvanise both communities into a situation of them and us whilst the latter would focus attention and effort on the police actually serving the community as oppose to keeping people in check.

    Until or unless policing becomes more to do with serving communities and less to do with protecting properties we are going to see more riots on the streets, especially if the economy remains in a state of depression. Add an unexplained, or unlawful killing by the police and ………………………

  33. There’s no justification for the violence that we’ve just been through but in order to address the problems we also need to identify its causes so that we can remedy the social problems. I recount as a resident and activist and believe that poverty, social exclusion mainly are the reasons for the social unrest that we have witnessed. What do you expect from people and generations that are excluded and have no stake in the society whilst the political class are busy and systematically enriching their families, breaching rules and regulations, thieving etc. Politicians must rule from the front and standards and expectations are higher but it seems/appears- one rule for the working class and a different set of rules for the political class- what is the difference between Libya and the UK?

  34. well you can be hardly surprised at this, the formation of the coalition, the vote for FPTP instead of AV and the literally thousands of letters us students sent you to stop the education cuts which Lynne Featherstone could of stopped if she had resigned her position, the spin which the media put on the student protests, the kettling of students and teachers and the use of mounted police- us under 18s are pretty angry at the powers that be (the government that we didn’t vote for). not to mention the requests by the police to report members of the anarchist party, which is something i thought only police states did. In at least three Haringey secondary schools there is talk of an anarchist rally and loads of students have been boasting of their part of the riots.
    im just saying- lib dems enjoy your term of office, because you’ve made yourself an enemy of the new generation of voters.

  35. Unfortunately, the example of “caring nothing for the rule of law and order”
    stems from the top down. Corrupt politicians, including our present Leader
    (disingenuous protestations of giving Andy Coulson “A chance” – no. he was determined to engage A. Coulson, no matter what), Tony Blair, too many serious
    malfeasances to mention, The Metropolitan police in bed with the journalists exchanging(and paying for) unsavoury information, alas Nick Clegg, promising to do one thing but once in power, turning sharply round and doing the exact opposite. The journalists ‘hacking’ into anybody’s private lives; Hacking,once considered an absolute breach of law and only allowable given the strictest judicial consent. No, I’m afraid the complete disregard for law and order has
    been amply demonstrated by absolutely everybody in some position of power.
    Why are we surprised?