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When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’?


3:48 pm - August 11th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Independent’s leader-writer Ben Chu says Labour should have focused on the “root causes” of the riots; the social conditions described here.
He adds:

the public should be told the truth, whether or not they’re “open” to it

I don’t think it quite works like that. But first, both Mehdi Hasan and I (Mehdi for perhaps different reasons) are sceptical on focusing too much on the ‘root causes’ of these riots.

This is partly because its simply untrue that people were motivated by poverty or were driven by racism or prejudice (most defendants weren’t even black).

A significant minority of people who took part were from well-off backgrounds, who saw an opportunity for some looting and took it.

This is partly why the looting collapsed so quickly after the police showed force and the threat of vigilante protection groups suddenly appeared. The vast majority of looters were doing it simply because they thought law and order had broken down and they had the chance to nab some goodies.

That aside, it would have been counter-productive for Labour to focus too much on the ‘root causes’ scenario.

Look at the polling: the number of people who thought poverty or unemployment were to blame were less than 10%. If solid socialists are about 20-25% of the population, even most of them were unconvinced by those reasons.

In such an environment, talking about ‘root causes’ is actually counter-productive because the public will simply dismiss you for being a loony and won’t pay any attention later if you want to move them in the right direction.

Ed Miliband did hint in that direction. He said in the Commons:

But we have a duty to ask ourselves why there are people who feel they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from wanton vandalism and looting.

We cannot afford to let this pass, to calm the situation down, only to find ourselves in this position again in the future. These issues cannot be laid at the door of a single cause or a single government.

The causes are complex. Simplistic responses will not provide the answer.

We can only tackle these solutions by hearing from our communities.

You may argue, as David Wearing has to me earlier, that we must talk about the causes while the issue is still fresh in people’s mind. I disagree – mostly because the images fresh in people’s minds right now are of scared friends and angry residents. They’re in no mood for niceties about ‘socio-economic factors’. That is just a fact.

The job of the Labour leader now is to let 90% of people know he understands their anger and stands on their side. Only then will he have permission from them to talk about ‘root causes’.

That’s why he was right not to focus on that aspect too much today.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I wonder if there is a difference between the ‘root causes’ and the plain old ’causes’. Whilst I agree it will be a minefield for anyone trying to talk about the ‘root causes’ and such discussions may well be pointless right now Labour people desperately need to talk about the ’causes’ because everybody else is. Over the past few days thousands of young people turned against their communities in an orgy of wanton distruction and I have not the faintest idea why. It’s important that anyone with any insight gives their opinion and is listened to and questioned constructively. The worst thing that can happen in the aftermath is if one side of the political spectrum remains quiet for fear of offending the other side.

Just my ignorant opinion.

Ed Miliband needs to reign in apologists like Livingstone and Harriet Heman asap. She was well and truer demolished by Michael Gove in Newsnight on Tuesday. It was embarrassing to watch.

These riots were quite different to 1981 so to trot out the usual notions that poverty, racism or depravation were the not motivators. Harman on Newsnight was like watching Corperal Jones exclaim: “They don’t like it up ’em” on a Home Guard parade.

3. Luis enrique

Recalling Chris Dillow’s arguments about how little influence policy has over economic growth, or at least how most people wildly exaggerate the link, I suspect it’s also possible to exaggerate the influence that policy has over these root causes, certainly within the time scale of a generation. There is tremendous inertia in inter-generational transmission of behaviour within families, and worthy youth projects will always fail to reach or change a good chunk of their target population. Ed Milliband can’t do much about gangsta culture (or whatever you want to call it).

Note this doesn’t amount to arguing we needn’t bother thinking root causes, any more than we needn’t bother thinking about growth, nor am I arguing that youth projects etc. are a waste of time. I’m sure the returns to more spending on such things are high.

“Look at the polling: the number of people who thought poverty or unemployment were to blame were less than 10%.”

Read it again. The question asked is “which of the following do you think is the MAIN cause of the riots?” (caps original).

You can’t conclude from the fact that only 5% picked unemployment as the MAIN cause (poverty wasn’t even specifically asked about) that only 5% think unemployment has anything to do with it at all.

I think Eds done alright and has managed to avoid looking like an opportunist which he is so often accused of by the right, and the right wing internet warriors. If Ed wanted to he could of got on the Tories case like Livingstone did, but I dont think any good would of come from it. Would of gone down well with the blogging anarchist, not to well with actual people who like vote and stuff.

6. the a&e charge nurse

Aren´t there lots of studies looking at how context influences behaviour?

Gladwell talks about the tipping points – for example crime rates in New York dipped dramatically after a few relatively minor environmental changes (strict enforcement of ticket evasion on the subway and zero tolerance to graffitti on the transport system) – these were cited as important measures in the swing toward less antisocial behaviour in the big apple.

Needless to say most of the guards in the nazi concentration camps were said to be from very ordinary backgrounds.

One thing I have been reflecting on is just how contagious ideas can be whether it be street crime or the financial markets.

Not even the most astute observers predicted the patterns of crime that we have seen up and down England over the last week – why?

Sunny, the issue I have with this article is that you seem to imagine linking to the same Telegraph opinion blog twice, which itself quotes no statistics, and is written by someone who didn’t even have the curiosity to see rioting first-hand (like Paul Lewis, Peter Beaumont etc.) and instead is making all her judgements from a ‘few hours’ at the court-room. How does she know it’s not to do with poverty? How does she know how much these people are earning? Did she ask? I don’t know either but if you are going to try and write an article based on a categorical (‘simply untrue’) denial of poverty as a large contributing factor you need to find some better sources.

With all the learned speculation about what really motivated the rioters, I’ve been puzzling as to what impelled rioters to attack an ordinary, passing passenger bus to the extent where a passenger was injured:

Passenger injured in Sutton as teen mob attack bus with rocks
http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/local/suttonnews/9189872.Passenger_injured_as_teen_mob_attack_bus_with_rocks/

9. Ellie cumbo

Democracy isn’t just about representatives following public opinion; sometimes they have to lead. See the tragedy of the commons etc. I didn’t think Ed did badly and agree he needed to let the victims and the wider community know he recognised the gravity of events, but beyond that I think the need to seek viters’ ‘permission’ to be progressive, and to challenge comfortable positions, is a little over-stated.

10. Ellie cumbo

Um, sorry, ‘voters’. Not sure who viters are, but think we can all agree there’s no need to ask them.

11. Luis enrique

NOW NOW NOW! This country is sliding into a proto-fascist police state extremely quickly. The backlash has the potential to be far more frightening!!!!

I’m amazed. I simply won’t buy this “oh, it was just greedy opportunists” line and I’m not interested in things calming down before talking about causes. We shouldn’t be afraid of pointing out that the Tories austerity measures have had a hand in creating this toxic situation, and doing so is in no way defending arsonists or burglars.

I’m fed up with the reactionary bullshit about taking away people’s benefits, using water cannons and rubber bullets. We need sustainable solutions not tabloid knee-jerk nonsense.

From court reports (see @SkyNewsOlympic) it is clear that the vast majority of those involved were under the age of 23 and either of school age or unemployed. We know that areas where the riots were most destructive have seen huge cuts to youth services. We know there is huge resentment towards the police. There are clear narratives of alienation and social exclusion that we all know and are familiar with. We know we need to invest in these communities, in jobs, in welfare, in public services. It may seem obvious, but if we don’t start pointing this out and taking action, these riots won’t be the last.

“Look at the polling: the number of people who thought poverty or unemployment were to blame were less than 10%. If solid socialists are about 20-25% of the population, even most of them were unconvinced by those reasons.”

The polling didn’t ask “were poverty or unemployment to blame for the riots”, though. It asked people to pick one single main cause of the riots, which is a very different question. e.g. I’d probably pick “criminal behaviour” as the single main cause from that list, but that wouldn’t tell you anything about what I thought the reasons for the riots were.

Conservative Home are currently running a blog series called “Tim Montgomerie gets mugged by reality”. In a series of increasingly amusing posts, he tries to convince himself to stick with his ideological belief that we need to shrink the state by sacking police officers, while awareness that this isn’t exactly in tune with the public mood gradually dawns.

The discussion of the root causes of the riots needs some proper research and investigation, which will take time. The more immediate thing for discussion is “so what should we do now?” and I think it is pretty uncontroversial that some of the things we should be saying about that are “don’t sack police officers” and “invest more money in charities like Kids’ Company which have demonstrated their ability to stop troubled young people from rioting” (alongside other things such as “ensure that people who committed these crimes are caught and punished”).

The risk here, though, is that if we accept and reinforce the Tory argument that spending cuts had nothing whatsoever to do with the riots, then it’s harder to explain why reversing the cuts is part of the solution.

15. the a&e charge nurse

(11) cheers, Luis – I am on hols yet still making illicit visits to LC (sad I know) – will read when the next window opens up.

Yea man, fuck ’em. Let’s ignore what the kids themselves have to say, the people who work with them, and all the statistics linking these areas to high levels of child poverty, JSA claimants and joblessness and regurgitate right-wing talking points instead. Nice one.

@15 its your holiday, wtf I would steer clear of a site like this during that happy time. LC just get grimmer and grimmer by each passing second.

You’re absolutely right, Sunny, as always. We should set a future date for when it’s appropriate to talk about root causes. That makes perfect sense. After all, we’ve already assumed the riots have something to do with, well, not the fact that people are shit poor. Ritoers are all just greedy criminal scum, discussion ended. Isn’t vacuous political polemic clever? Of course, other root causes have been mooted, but they uncomfortably involve attributing blame to the rest of society, and consumerism, and culture, and threaten the lifestyles of nice British people like us. We just want things to go back to normal, so we can watch capitalism and the ecosphere collapse from the safety of our semi-detached lives. Cor, did you see the video of those cops beating those looters in Manchester? Ha! Ha! Ha! Forget those awkward moral questions, we’re having too much fun!

Insight as to causes of the rioting: The Tory party’s social policy guru Iain Duncan Smith believes Britain has witnessed the growth of a “more menacing underclass”.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14488486

Almost immediately after the general election last year, the failed Conservative candidate in one local constituency, Philipa Stroud, was transubstantiated to become a paid Special Adviser (SPAD) to IDS in the Department of Work and Pensions

Philipa Stroud is not short on innovative ideas – exorcism to cure gays, for example:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/02/conservatives-philippa-stroud-gay-cure

Perhaps that could also work with a more menacing underclass – a National Exorcism Service, perhaps?

May be what we really need is someone just like Elmer Gantry:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30TkCJGsXas

@2

“Ed Miliband needs to reign in apologists like Livingstone and Harriet Heman asap. She was well and truer demolished by Michael Gove in Newsnight on Tuesday. It was embarrassing to watch”

“Apologists”? In what sense were they “apologists”? There is a basket of causal issues, many of which are directly related to the neoliberal economic policies that began under Thatcher and were continued under successive governments.

As for Gove besting Harman, I thought Gove came across as petulant and bad-tempered. He wasn’t prepared to entertain any ideas that weren’t concocted in his narrow little mind. Harman wasn’t terribly effective either.

donpaskini: I’d probably pick “criminal behaviour” as the single main cause from that list, but that wouldn’t tell you anything about what I thought the reasons for the riots were.

I’m not saying the polling was perfect. But I don’t think most people will simply buy this argument that unemployment or racism is behind the looting. Or else we’d see it almost every day in certain parts of the country (and it didn’t spread to other poorer parts of the country like Glasgow where deprivation is endemic).

My point wasn’t focused on everybody.

I think people like the head of Kids Co’, Ken Livingstone and others in the Labour party will and should make this case.

I just don’t think it will have much sway with the public.

And the danger is that things progress to how they did in the United states after the 70s and 80s – people drifted into the arms of the right, who then went on to be even more draconian and authoritarian on the issues.

22. Citizen Smudge

“We know that areas where the riots were most destructive have seen huge cuts to youth services.”

You’re surely not suggesting that the looters would have preferred to have been playing a quiet game of pool at a youth club. Yes the riots were in areas of social neglect and that is important context though it’s unclear to me that any party went into the last election determined to end that neglect. The more profound and urgent point surely is that a sizeable generation of kids and young adults have abandoned the civilities and norms which make political, democratic discourse possible. If you stand around bemoaning youth service cuts and austerity measures while law-abiding people are killed, injured and their property destroyed then you’ll never get round to dealing with the causes.

“We know there is huge resentment towards the police.”

These people were stoning the fire brigade as they tried to extinguish fires in family-run businesses. It’s authority they don’t like – teachers, parents, councils, firefighters and yes the police.

“There are clear narratives of alienation and social exclusion that we all know and are familiar with. We know we need to invest in these communities, in jobs, in welfare, in public services.”

Why burn down the fruits of that investment if that’s what’s needed?

24. Luis enrique

There is not such a contradiction between the right wing “they are just opportunist thugs” and the left wing “they are the victims of depravation, social exclusion etc.” The latter may explain how these people became the former. There is a difference between thinking about how people became as they are (root causes) and thinking about what people have become like.

There’s not even that much difference between emphasising “personal responsibility, bad parenting” etc. and emphasising external factors. Perhaps if you take 100 randomly selected youths from a bad neighbourhood, only 30 of them will be rioters, and perhaps personal responsibility and what not explains why that 30 and not the others.

All these arguments are closer than some seem to think. Everybody agrees that if you are born to loving, relatively well educated, relatively high income parents surrounded by similar peers in a good neighbourhood you are much less likely to be rioter, nobody denies a root cause role for socioeconomic status, parental behaviour and so forth.

25. Charles Wheeler

Is it really possible to argue that these riots were simply due to opportunists on the hunt for trainers and flat-screen TVs?

We’ve had 30 years of rising inequality, falling social mobility, a run down of social housing, an explosion of indebtedness to replace stagnating wages as profits and bonuses soar. After the collapse, those most responsible for the crisis were rewarded, while those who gained least are in the frontline of cuts. Prospects for education, jobs, housing and pensions for all but those at the top are receding over the horizon. Politicians and police have been on the make, developing an incestuous relationship with the press. The credo at the top is: take all you can grab in the name of a ‘market’ rigged for their benefit, while our Old Etonian ruling class lecture the underclass on the virtues of meritocacy and their own personal shortcomings. Those that can get a job are treated like sh*t on minimum wage and disciplined for any minor failings, with most of their earnings going straight back to the rentier class (leaving them with just enough to buy trainers and a phone contract). Low paid public sector workers are told they need to taste the fear of unemployment to keep them on their toes, while the business press call for too big to fail banks to be underwritten with a blank cheque from the taxpayer. The future for most is: work until you’re 70 on low wages, struggling to keep a roof over your head, forget about your kids going to college, lengthening NHS queues as the private sector are muscled in, slashed benefits for those unable to work – all amid the constant refrain from the right (most of whom were born into privilege) that they must crush any sense of entitlement.

And all the left can do is meekly acquiesce in the face of a concerted effort by the political classes (who long ago accepted the self-fulfilling argument that government was the problem not the solution), desperate not to be seen to condone rioters by suggesting that the economic context might have been a factor.

Labour’s problem is that the riots appear to be more of a consequence of the basic nature of modern capitalism rather than of Tory cuts, though it’s far too soon to say that Tory policies played no part. If Labour had not accepted the Thatcherite consensus we’d be able to say a lot more.

But it still annoys me to see Ed Miliband cleaving to the self-serving Tory line, which is clearly just promotion of their existing policies.

seem to imagine linking to the same Telegraph opinion blog twice, which itself quotes no statistics, and is written by someone who didn’t even have the curiosity to see rioting first-hand

Owen – I’m not talking about the stats. In fact, I don’t think any stats are out yet. Neither am I making a judgement on where the generalities are.

I’m merely pointing out that saying this is primarily driven by poverty or racism will be swiftly met with a reply that says a significant number arrested were white (even Daily Mail says this) and that a lot of the people who got involved weren’t from poor backgrounds.

That doesn’t excuse the point there are broader issues of poverty and alienation. But most poverty-stricken people didn’t go looting either. So a correlation doesn’t mean causation.

29. Shatterface

‘the public should be told the truth, whether or not they’re “open” to it’

I agree, and they should be told the truth – when that truth has been determined. That means a more sophisticated analysis than copying and pasting reports from the 80s.

My guess is that the ’cause’ will be as difficult to determine as why people suddenly stopped wearing hats in the Sixties.

30. Shatterface

‘The polling didn’t ask “were poverty or unemployment to blame for the riots”, though. It asked people to pick one single main cause of the riots, which is a very different question. e.g. I’d probably pick “criminal behaviour” as the single main cause from that list, but that wouldn’t tell you anything about what I thought the reasons for the riots were.’

Rioting is illegal so its a tautology to attribute it to criminal behaviour.

Lots of rival hypotheses as to the causes of the riots here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14483149

And this shows that the rioters are a very mixed bunch:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14495104

Beware the private prison system. It is like the industrial military complx.

The Associated Press

“SCRANTON, Pa. — A longtime northeastern Pennsylvania judge was ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state’s high court to toss thousands of convictions.

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as “kids for cash.”

In the wake of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.

Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. His attorneys had asked for a “reasonable” sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he’d already been punished enough.

“I blame no one but myself for what happened,” he said, and then denied he had ever incarcerated any juveniles in exchange for money.

He also criticized U.S. Assistant Attorney Gordon Zubrod for referring to the case as “kids for cash,” and said it sank his reputation.

Zubrod said that Ciavarella had “verbally abused and cruelly mocked children he sent away after violating their rights.” He called the ex-judge “vicious and mean-spirited” in asking U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik for a life sentence.

Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner.

Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.”

Condemning the search for causal factors seems a bizarre position to take. It’s fair enough to argue that Ed Milliband would do well politically to stick to a reactionary songsheet, but it’s another thing to make out that it would be the healthiest response.

I’ve argued here- http://theonlinesociety.com/2011/08/the-left-the-right-and-the-riots/ however of a big difference between the types of response to causal factors. A lot of the reaction has been simply to fold the events into ready-made ideological envelopes.

It’s therefore quite refreshing to hear Ed say that ‘Simplistic responses will not provide the answer.’ Damn right they won’t. It’s not an issue of talking about causes or not. It’s an issue of actually trying to learn about causes rather than leaping onto soapboxes to provide a soundbite. ‘Criminality pure and simple’ is a smokescreen, and does a disservice to the people affected.

“the number of people who thought poverty or unemployment were to blame were less than 10%.”

Hardly surprising given that no one has made the case yet. If Labour did make the case, more people would come round to that point of view.

It is also worth noting that a massive proportion of the public claimed that “criminal behaviour” was to blame for the riots. With the sheer stupidity of such a circular argument – given that criminal behaviour is a description of the riots themselves, not of their cause – I think you have to wait until the public have been exposed to some decent arguments.

Some experts are certainly pointing to the wealth gap as a major factor ( http://yle.fi/uutiset/news/2011/08/researcher_income_gap_behind_britain_riots_2780944.html?origin=rss ). It would be stupid to ignore that insight.

@Sunny

Did you really link to the same Telegraph article twice to ‘prove’ the make up of the rioters? And was that article, openly, plainly, anecdotal?

Come on Sunny, aren’t you a bit embarrassed to claim that it proves that it is ‘simply untrue’ that most of the rioters were poor?

There are no sodding “root causes” of the riots. Insofar as they have been caused at a political level, it has been the left – LibCon at the front of this – drivelling hyperbole about “lost generations” and making out as if the cuts were slashing every and all services to the bone, wicked Tories feasting on baby flesh, etc, when you know no such thing is happening. If you have been crying wolf and a number of people have taken you at your word and reacted, it’s your fault.

38. George Hallam

“Thinking about the recent riots in London and
other cities in Britain, which of the following do
you think is the MAIN cause of the riots?
1. Criminal behaviour”

What a stupid question the riots WERE a case of criminal behaviour.

So yes

When public figures talk about the root causes – it does add legitimacy to the violence – even if they also condemn it. This is unavoidable.

In strategic terms – assuming one doesn’t want a collapse of the system talk of root causes should be minimized while the risk of violence is still substantial. It should be condemned as irresponsible, criminal behavior and greed. The root causes cannot be dealt with quickly after all and premumably people don’t want a long drawn out period of rioting while the root causes are tackled. There needs to be a united effort in “information operations”.

As for what the root causes are… there are clearly a mix of things at play. I think the left and the right both have a lot of learn from the riots. The right need to realise that it is actually in their own selfish self interest to provide a certain level of help to the poor, to address social needs and do a whole bunch of stuff that they would normally shy away from doing in favor of small government. Likewise for the Left there are clearly links between the violence and a benefits system that has paid people to live (but not to be entertained to their satisfaction), a lack of societal cohesion with shared values (the result of the state actively promoting multiculturalism) and a bunch of other factors well rehearsed on the right wing blogs many of which have an element of truth in.

Ultimately I think there needs to be much more of a ‘game theory’ approach to dealing with poverty and disaffection. What we’ve seen here is a bunch of factors (from both left and right) coming together to make “defecting” seem like the most rational response to a significant number of young people. It affected enough young people to create a tipping point for the riots. Inventivised provision of services, a reduction in state multiculturalism, a reduction in moral relativism all bundled up with information operations which pays regard to how things are ‘perceived’ as well as actually are might do the trick to make “cooperation” seem more rational than “defection”.

I wonder how many billions have been spent on these “deprived areas” over the years. Quite a lot, if Labours boasting when in power is to be believed. If that flood of money did no good at all, that would seem to be one bit of public spending that could be cut without doing much harm.

“It is also worth noting that a massive proportion of the public claimed that “criminal behaviour” was to blame for the riots. With the sheer stupidity of such a circular argument – given that criminal behaviour is a description of the riots themselves, not of their cause – I think you have to wait until the public have been exposed to some decent arguments.”

Perhaps the public don’t judge a riot/protest with a genuine cause to fight for to be “criminal behaviour” how ever when it comes to little ####s who love destruction and have no cause, they see it that way.

No surprise to see the tory trolls have no problem with the real looters i.e. the bankers.

Trolls have no problem with looters if the wear suits, live in Surrey, and fuck up the global economy.

The bankers card gets boring – most people cant string a sentence together about the workings of finance and the cause of the problems yet you all enjoyed the boom,wipe your eyes in the bust..move along now…

Bending over backwards so as not to frighten off centrist voters just means that parties that should be articulating the rage and frustration of the dispossessed and abandoned attack them instead. No wonder they dissolve into inarticulate howls, violent outbursts and opportunist rampaging. Nobody is there to speak up for them, or facilitate their speaking up for themselves.

Daniel: I agree entirely.

While I can see where Sunny is coming from on this, this strategy could end up being a simply “let the right wing do what they want because they’re angry and intimidating” strategy. The right wing are looking at what they think are root causes now.

I don’t think we should sit here and mildly agree when the Prime Minister suggests that a sensible and constructive response to such riots is to reduce unemployment benefits. Apparently this will make scrounger types feel less entitled to riot, a line of reasoning that makes so little sense that I’m forced to conclude it’s a feeble excuse to visit generalised vengeance for the riots on an entire social class.

They also apparently want to cut rioters (and presumably their families, given the age range of rioters) off entirely from benefits. This last idea would obviously create a destitute class of people dependent on begging and criminality for food/shelter, but pointing this out would obviously make voters think we love the rioters.

Also, saying it’s “simply untrue” that poverty motivated the rioters is ridiculous. Obviously it didn’t motivate every single rioter; in any situation of widespread anarchy every criminally-minded human in the city (many of whom are not poor) will take advantage. But there is obviously a link there, whether or not individual rioters thought to themselves “hey, I’m poor, I’m going to riot”. Inequality and lack of opportunity feeds alienation and violence. That’s why people are (often rightly) scared of walking around poor areas the world over, and generally the level of fear corresponds pretty well to the level of inequality.

Riots pretty much always tend to occur in low income areas, and these were no exception, starting in Tottenham, followed by a whole list of other mainly low income suburbs. Inequality and poverty has increased drastically recently in London, in case you haven’t noticed. It’s about to increase a whole lot more when the housing cuts bite.

That doesn’t make the rioters any less deserving of punishment personally, or make it wrong to take the measures necessary to restore order, but it does go a long way toward explaining why the number of people who see nothing wrong with rioting has suddenly increased beyond a tipping point. It’s not the sole explanation, but it’s pretty important. Maybe Sunny thinks voters are incapable of hearing that without assuming the speaker wants to cuddle convicted rioters. I think most of them aren’t so stupid.

46. Robert the crip

Thats why I vote Tory, since the last election, labour spends to long listening at silly polls from people who fill them in daily weekly all of a few thousand, or are you actually telling me 90% of the country voted in these polls.

Miliband and Cleggie and Cameron should all come together and form a Government most believe the same thing anyway

@7: sitting at a courtroom certainly enables you to make a much better analysis about the motives and personal circumstances of rioters than watching the riot or listening to people who are rioting or looting – because the looters have very, very little meaningful to say.

@45: “Miliband and Cleggie and Cameron should all come together and form a Government most believe the same thing anyway”

A one-party state? Didn’t they try that in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany with dire consequences? But are there better models like the PRC, Libya and Syria, perhaps?

“most people cant string a sentence together about the workings of finance”

Just the same as the bankers then.

50. Paul Newman

There is a deeper reason that the search for root causes soi disant is so infuriating , it is because “root ” causes conceived societally are always a means of devaluing personal responsibility.
This is an insult to ordinary law abiding people who have their own frustrations and an insult to the human condition which is not that of the gnat blown about by ‘policy’.
What I notice is the way the left have adroitly slipped from, at first, blaming the cuts to blaming the general greed of, wait for it, the right. If New Labour has been advertising itself as a way to virtuous poverty I had not noticed neither have I noticed any group clamouring for less of late. In fact it is the Conservative Party who have deplored the break between work and reward.
If you want to call that greed fine some people are greedier than others the question is, how do they go about sating their need.Working hard, hoping for some luck, or stealing

People, I imagine, will have rioted and looted for many reasons – the madness of crowds, voyeurs getting swept up in the frenzy, the temptation of loot, love of violence, being high on drink or drugs, boredom, envy….

But the riots will also have deeper, ‘root causes’, among which may well be family breakdown, poor parenting, a failing education system, anti-police campaigns, lack of respect for the law and authority, relative poverty, welfare dependency and the benefits trap, mass immigration, racial tensions, multiculturalism, ghettoisation, confusion about moral standards, an ineffective criminal justice system with perceived low conviction rates and sentences that do not deter…

The riots pose difficult and uncomfortable questions for both left and right.

Lefties, listen to Sunny. He’s trying to help you. He’s explaining that if you come out in public right now with your usual crap, you’ll be laughed off the pitch. Wait until things have settled down and the waters have been muddied again, then it will be business as usual and you’ll be able to kid yourself once more that you represent something important.

@39. ad: “If that flood of money did no good at all, that would seem to be one bit of public spending that could be cut without doing much harm.”

Well lets’s test your theory, then, throwing some money into the project.

If a family lives in an odd numbered house/flat, they are in an economic regeneration region and qualify for additional social/educational benefits. If a family lives in an even numbered house/flat, they live in a lower status world. And families are not permitted to swap between odd/even numbered houses.

My guess is that the consequences are social chaos. When people determine that there is no opportunity to move between odd and even numbered homes, there will be a riot.


Where we are now is that living in an odd numbered home is not exclusive. People living in even numbered homes can add one to the number, but it is difficult. What are the factors that make it difficult?

I’m watching Question Time from London. I’m astonished at the youthfulness of the audience. Is everyone young in London? Is there anybody over 50?

Trofim: “I’m watching Question Time from London. I’m astonished at the youthfulness of the audience. Is everyone young in London? Is there anybody over 50?”

Yup – but elders like me tend not to go out to events like Question Time, perhaps for safety reasons while travelling.

On London, try this illuminating BBC Newsnight report from three years ago on: London versus the wider UK
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7368326.stm

You cannot on the one hand say economic hardship is the cause for looting, and on the other diminish the crimes of the looters with reference to the “real” looting by the rich because the latter aren’t experiencing economic hardship. Also, listen to what Scooby says. You can talk about the causes, just wait a fucking second until they’ve actually caught the guys who killed the men in Birmingham and put him in prison and interviewed him before you wank all over the bereaved fathers with your “oh your son was killed by economic hardship!”

Right-wingers keep blathering on about hip hop culture and how it has now also infected innocent white kids too, well who owns MTV and who owns the record companies that put out the “gangsta rap” ? Here’s a clue it isn’t Black street kids.

Root causes are the right thing to talk about _when you are right about them_. Because when you happen to be right, on average people will tend to agree, or at least be nudged in the direction of agreement. Better to avoid being wrong in the first place; being wrong, but keeping quiet about it won’t get you far.

Thing is, these riots weren’t a modern day re-enactment of the Peasant’s Revolt or Merthyr Rising. It really wasn’t oppressed people erupting in rage and attempting to do some damage to their overlords, despite knowing the personal consequences would almost certainly be dreadful.

Instead, it was weak government, economic circumstances and technological developments making it possible for a bunch of youngsters to steal and burn stuff in a novel way.

There was a fairly big recent drop in property crime, largely because car locks got better, making car theft a skilled or capital-intensive occupation. This is just a shift in the opposite direction. Maybe a temporary one-off, a nine-day wonder, or just maybe a new norm.

If so, the way to fight it is not merely to preach: you might as well tell a viking to stop raiding, or a banker to set up a commune. People pretty much always end up with a morality that matches the economic circumstances they are in.

The point is to change those circumstances, such that being law abiding is a sensible choice, the right one in both senses, not just the moral one.

That means that it is a hard constraint on a peaceful society that the rewards available to the low-skilled and law abiding have to be noticeably greater than the rewards for low-skill crime.

Nothing very radical, just all the things New Labour were doing before the voters collectively decided they couldn’t be afforded any more: money transfers from bankers to barkeepers, training schemes, public works, and so on.

That will cost, but it will still be cheaper than keeping the poorest percentage of the population in prison, as in the USA.

@57. soru: “There was a fairly big recent drop in property crime, largely because car locks got better, making car theft a skilled or capital-intensive occupation.”

A smart mechanical or electrical engineering graduate will be in and out within minutes, no alarms. Then the car is on the back of a wagon. Gangs have always found the money to employ unscrupulous graduates.

What is clear from this whole episode is the majority of the Great (Ha!) British public will meekly accept being robbed and then fucked up the ass by the banksters without vaseline with just a bit of grumbling, but when some thugs go on the rampage their outrage is of the meter.

In Ealing, a pensioner who tried to stamp out a fire in the riots has been killed:

A 68-year-old man who was critically injured while he tried to stamp out a fire during riots in west London has died, Scotland Yard has said.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14500869

“Police say four other deaths – a man found shot in a car in Croydon and three men hit by a car in Birmingham – may be linked to the recent disorder.”

62. Paul Newman

Soru is right ,and Charlieman , wrong about theft protections causing the drop in property crime , this is well documented amongst insurers and applies to Households as well. The new Satelite tracking system son big ticket items are like something out of Bond. The police have fraudulently taken credit for this and pointed at falling crime levels whilst other crimes have risen ..hence the whole “perception of crime ” lie. In fact this is part of a general category of the state taking credit for anything good about the country ?( See NHS and Health which is mostly diet) – thus increasing the impression that without big nanny the word would collapse .As ever it is mostly ‘despite’ big nanny we get anywhere. I also see this as a technology phenomenon with more in common with Raves than Tolpuddle Martyrs but then I am not shocked to discover the world is full of feral scrotes on the borders of criminality.
Where I profoundly disagree with Soru is that morality is a product of Economic circumstances. This is self evidently rubbish , standards between countries vary hugely with little relation to poverty and people respond to economic stimulii only iwrthin the parameters of their identity .
This is also to do with age by the way – something that has got little discussion is the temporal fragmentation of society which encompasses Economic prospects sheer geography and above all work place contact between young men and their elders.

@62: “In fact this is part of a general category of the state taking credit for anything good about the country ?( See NHS and Health which is mostly diet) – thus increasing the impression that without big nanny the word would collapse.”

Some truth in that but by 1933, at the height of the Depression in America, unemployment had risen from 3% to 25% of the nation’s workforce. Wages for those who still had jobs fell 42%. GDP was cut in half, from $103 to $55 billion. This was partly because of deflation, where prices fell 10% per year. By 1933, world trade plummeted 65% as measured in dollars and 25% in total number of units.
http://useconomy.about.com/od/grossdomesticproduct/p/1929_Depression.htm

Although in London and the south east of England unemployment was initially as high as 13.5%, the later 1930s were a prosperous time in these areas, as a suburban house-building boom was fuelled by the low interest rates which followed the abolition of the gold standard, and as London’s growing population buoyed the economy of the Home Counties. Northern England however was a quite different matter. . .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_in_the_United_Kingdom

In the early 19th century, Parliament began to recognise that without statutory regulation, working children and women were likely to be shamefully exploited, hence a long succession of factory acts:
http://www.historyhome.co.uk/peel/factmine/factleg.htm

“In 1909, Winston Churchill established ‘wages councils’ to protect the pay of workers in the so-called ‘sweated’ trades. The wages councils set minimum wage rates in a number of different industries. This system remained in place for over 80 years (covering varying numbers of industries over that period), even surviving Mrs Thatcher’s onslaught on labour market regulation (though subject to some changes).”
http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/cp290.pdf

What strikes me about almost all of the commentary I have read and heard on the riots is that nobody seems able to take a step back from their own hobbyhorses and take a broad view. It makes me wonder whether this is the result of confirmation bias in people’s selection of information sources from new media, as has been suggested by some academics and commentators.

Luis Enrique’s link @11 is very interesting as a theory, and surely we can’t say much more until we know more about the demographics of those arrested and charged, for a start. As Luis also points out, there are only a few gaps between what left and right are saying about the riots, though there is a philosophical gulf that hinders communication.

I think we should all be concerned that this has led to kneejerk responses from Parliament suggesting that social media might be blocked as a response to these shocking but actually quite limited events, as pointed out by David Allen Green here: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2011/08/riots-law-rule-police-crime. Note: The police brought the situation back into control using existing powers and standard procedures. They needed nothing more.

Yeah, can see what you are saying. Am struggling to make sense of any of it myself and these lefties who are rushing to frame it all according to their political ideology are making total twats of themselves.

Best thing I have seen was via facebuk-

If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth
(African proverb)

For all Labours wrongs and engagements in Wars there was never Riots like we have just experienced.

David Cameron may say that the Riots were Criminality pure and simple to take peoples mind away from the reality of the cause of the Riots but David Cameron and his Tories appear corrupt because they are deceitful and constantly lie to the Nation. We have recently seen two senior Police Office resign because of the News of the World Scandal that two of David Cameron’s close friends were involved in, Andy Culson and Brooks. Is it not surprising that people are sick to the teeth and Angry.

These Riots were the worst Riots in British History and David Cameron has only been Prime-Minister for Fifteen months only. The man that was shoot by the Police was just the spark that ingnited the Riots and they spread like wild fire because people are Angry with rage and this was their chance (wrongly) through rioting to let the establishment know that they have had enough. ” They Have Had Enough “.

I saw on television rioters burning buildings, cars and destroying everything in their path because they were demonstrating/rioting to get their feelings heard and to let David Cameron and others know that they are Angry. This was not Criminality, this was people that do not have a voice crying out to be heard.

Cameron is so embarrassed by the Riots that he will say anything to lay the blame totally on the Rioters to save face. The reality is that David Cameron and this Coalition appear corrupt whilst being so deceitful and constantly lying to the people of this country.

David Cameron has been Prime-Minister for Fifteen Short Months and we have experienced the worst Riots in British History ! That says a lot for David Cameron’s so called deceitful, pathetic leadership. Cameron should take a long look in the Mirror.

I Pretty much like what you write here generally, but now were discussing when is the right time to discuss something.

Its a little too much style without any substance I think. Ultimately you want a cause, one with a that contains new buzzwords, obscure political terms and scientific doohickery?

There were lots of looters, each one has an individual reason. You wont figure it out, so perhaps you should stop pontificating and pick up a fucking broom or something!

What were the causes of the rioting in Gloucester? That might be a bit easier to work out.
Prosperous market town with a couple of depressed council estates on it I’d have thought.
Whith an underclass who don’t work and take drugs. And yet thousands of people from Eastern Europe are in the area, doing all the jobs that the unemployed people don’t do.
Like working in the Hotels and shops, as well as the agricultural jobs.

Tottenham was totally different. As was Clapham Junction and Croydon. You could start by looking into the post code gangs phenomenon, and then just see how difficult it is to educate teenagers who have their heads filled with that nonsense. Youtube is full of it.
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=post+code+gangs&aq=f

There isn’t really a left wing ”progressive” way to spin this. Capitalism has demanded a certain amount of self discipline, deferred gratification and a willingness to work at things. To work and save and study etc, and those things aren’t seen as virtuous any more by sections of society. Too many jobs are not worth doing, and you need a bloody CV for everything. I hate being asked for a CV. I’ve never had one, and I find it a barrier to getting a job sometimes, as they just collect CVs and judge them first.

Btw, as much of this story about the riots is about race, there will never be any consensus about it. You have Darcus Howe on the one hand talking about how his 15 year old grandson is getting stopped and searched all the time, and then you have someone like Mark Duggan from Broadwater Farm who carried a gun, and the police knew he carried a gun. That’s why they were following him in the taxi. The fact that they killed him isn’t really the point. That is a consequence of armed police interacting with people who are armed. It hapens across the world. That’s why police carry guns.

The politics of Operation Black Vote and Lee Jasper need to be examined too in my opinion.
The Smiley Culture campaign and the accusation that the police are deliberately involved in racist killings of people in their custody.
http://leejasper.blogspot.com/2011/06/demetre-fraser-outrage-at-new-death-in.html

It’s that shrill campaigning that led to the rioting breaking out in Tottenham. Because the people who had marched to the police station weren’t satisfied with what the police said to them. Members of the family should have been able to have a meeting arranged with the police, but these ”No Justice – No peace” marches are just BS in my opinion. As they are just rable rousing accasions and fill the air with poisonous racism against the police and between black and white.

Damon, Gloucester may be an historic city, but bad planning has made it a complete hole. You can visit the beautiful cathedral and its precincts or the restored docks but a short walk away you will find significant deprivation.

“most people cant string a sentence together about the workings of finance”

Just the same as the bankers then.”

Oh I see, there no longer master mind criminals looting the country untouchable by all, there now economic illiterates, tell me what mistake did they make? Perhaps they lent money to the public and governments under the thinking that they would get it back?

Your greed pure & simple.

Yes Cherub, but there’s poverty everywhere. That BBC series ”The Scheme” showed how grim things can be.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjC6-L6pJTI

I think it’s important to take as wide a view possible of all this, from Camila Batmanghelidjh and her ‘Kids Company’, who do vital work in south London – but also taking notice of someone like John McWhorter …. who some people on the left accuse of being an ‘Uncle Tom’ and a ‘media whore’ because he writes things like this.
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/mcwhorter.htm

That is just too much for many people, and I was told to stick him ”where the sun don’t shine” when I linked to some of his articles on another lefty forum I used to read. They weren’t having any of that crap.
But without taking that kind of view into consideration, you just end up like Lee Jasper, Darcus Howe and (that twerp) Jody McIntyre. Spinning platitudes and making excuses.

The answer to the question posed is NOW a resounding NOW. There is no point in postponing the proper conversation that we must all have on this subject. This is not the same as some kind of terrible accident or natural disaster where there must be a period of calm and reflection in deference to grieving families – what is needed is a proper political and sociological and economic debate, because the riots are caused by a societal failure to which we have all contributed.
What is definitely not needed is the mad and unlawful sentences that have been passed in our Magistrates Courts. This following article expands upon that.
http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/08/now-is-the-not-the-time-for-mad-magistrates-and-crazy-judges/

“…the rewards available to the low-skilled and law abiding have to be noticeably greater than the rewards for low-skill crime. ”

No, the rewards don’t have to be greater. Low-skill crime just has to be detected and punished swiftly and significantly. The higher rewards of low-skill crime will then be offset by the near-certainty of punishment.

75. Luis enrique

Not a root cause but a proximate one: there are rumours that some far left groups, of the sort that imagine rioting is “resistance”, had a hand in getting things going in some cases. Anybody know if there’s any truth to that? It does sound to me like the sort of thing people might make up, so I’m not putting much store in it.

I’d like to know who printed those how to riot flyers being distributed in hackney, though.

76. Charlieman

@75. Luis enrique: “I’d like to know who printed those how to riot flyers being distributed in hackney, though.”

A pawn broker?

77. Charlieman

@62. Paul Newman: “Soru is right ,and Charlieman , wrong about theft protections causing the drop in property crime , this is well documented amongst insurers and applies to Households as well.”

Your faith in technology is over optimistic. Criminals have the same access to technology as security providers. Mobile phone companies invested loads of money creating vendor locked phones, but it costs you five pounds on the market to have a phone unlocked. For thirty pounds, you can buy a chip that allows a games console to play pirated games.

Sometimes technology shifts the target of crime. CCTV cameras are an obvious example. Geolocation monitoring devices for cars deliver a less obvious shift. If you fit one to a “modestly priced” BMW or Audi, you reduce the chance of theft to almost nil. If you fit one to a Porsche or Range Rover, you reduce the chance of theft but it is no longer almost nil; the sale price of a dodgy Porsche in some countries means that it is worthwhile to circumvent security technology in order to steal.

For £15 you can buy a match box sized device that (illegally in the UK) blocks mobile phone signals in a 20 metre radius so that you can conduct an uninterrupted pub conversation. For a little bit more, you can buy a device that jams geolocation signals from cars.

Security is primarily about humans, secondarily about technology.

To blame the Tories after fifteen months and not accept that the previous Labour govt and the Tories before them haven’t collectively bred this is totally ridiculous.

@77: “Your faith in technology is over optimistic. . . Security is primarily about humans, secondarily about technology.”

There’s a lot of misinformation in that. We need to discriminate carefully between technology options.

DNA identification has proved to be a powerful tool for both identifying criminals and for exonerating accused but innocent people.

Software search engines are essential for rapidly finding finger-print and DNA-profile matches in databases.

Ballistics is often critical in matching guns to crimes.

We now have fully-functional electronic share-trading systems.

The Google search engine is very useful . .

Etc

80. Just Visiting

Jack of Kent’s blog sums things up for me:

> actual riots are rarely predicted; but when they happen, people with political opinions tend to immediately know why they happened – what really caused them.

> There were many causes of what happened last night in Tottenham and Wood Green; but that is just because a lot of rather different things happened. Accordingly, there may be a limited extent to which there is a single “solution” to what is seen as the problem. But there is a general rule – few people accurately predict civil disturbances; and afterwards, few people have any doubt as to why they happened.

http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2011/08/predicting-riot.html

81. Charlieman

@79. Bob B: “DNA identification has proved to be a powerful tool for both identifying criminals and for exonerating accused but innocent people.”

I can’t change my DNA but I can use simple technology to avoid leaving a forensic sample at the scene of a crime. I can also leave a DNA sample of somebody else at the scene. Which is why DNA evidence alone is insufficient for prosecution or determination of guilt.

A Google search can be useful for finding information and their page rank algorithm worked well for a few years. Then some web site creators adopted gaming strategies to increase their page rank, forcing Google to tweak their algorithm to exclude irrelevant search results. Ten years on, Google’s search results depend less on page rank and may be less relevant owing to side effects of the tweaks.

You see, page rank works really well when web site creators do not manipulate it. But once they do, search result relevance declines. Which is why you may need to look at four or five pages of search results for the answer to a simple query whereas ten years ago the answer was on the first page.

“But there is a general rule – few people accurately predict civil disturbances; and afterwards, few people have any doubt as to why they happened.”

As much can be said of earthquakes and the eruption of volcanoes but we don’t burn the geology textbooks.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    When is the right time to talk of the riot 'root causes'? http://bit.ly/nWKETb

  2. Stephe Meloy

    When is the right time to talk of the riot 'root causes'? http://bit.ly/nWKETb

  3. sunny hundal

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  4. David M Gibson

    When is the right time to talk of the riot 'root causes'? http://bit.ly/nWKETb

  5. Clive

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  6. Tim Hardy

    Agree – else authoritarian right will win: When is the right time to talk of the riot root causes? Not now http://t.co/rNA2PVS

  7. Nicolas Chinardet

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  8. Georgie

    Hundal: let's not talk about root causes of the riots, it might make centrists not like us. Because popularity is key. http://t.co/VYh8IPs

  9. combabe

    Hundal: let's not talk about root causes of the riots, it might make centrists not like us. Because popularity is key. http://t.co/VYh8IPs

  10. sunny hundal

    Agree – else authoritarian right will win: When is the right time to talk of the riot root causes? Not now http://t.co/rNA2PVS

  11. sunny hundal

    Agree – else authoritarian right will win: When is the right time to talk of the riot root causes? Not now http://t.co/rNA2PVS

  12. Murray Robertson

    "The job of the Labour leader now is to let 90% of people know he understands their anger and stands on their side."?? http://t.co/dFlMDk0

  13. Murray Robertson

    "The job of the Labour leader now is to let 90% of people know he understands their anger and stands on their side."?? http://t.co/dFlMDk0

  14. Aroha Groves

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  15. Aroha Groves

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  16. James Meadway

    This is the abstensionism I was talking about. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We must say loud&clear why this happened. http://t.co/89JwkFQ #UKriots

  17. Stephen Whitehead

    This is the abstensionism I was talking about. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We must say loud&clear why this happened. http://t.co/89JwkFQ #UKriots

  18. Double.Karma

    Agree – else authoritarian right will win: When is the right time to talk of the riot root causes? Not now http://t.co/rNA2PVS

  19. Jon Rice

    @liam_1993 http://t.co/pjuakV1

  20. netribution

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  21. W R

    Hundal: let's not talk about root causes of the riots, it might make centrists not like us. Because popularity is key. http://t.co/VYh8IPs

  22. Michelle Hart

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  23. Rooftop Jaxx

    RT @libcon When is the right time to talk of the riot 'root causes'? http://t.co/iv0yucv | well at least @CarolineLucas isn't so risible

  24. Diarmaid O'Neill

    When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/wAkSRjq via @libcon

  25. PoliticalHook

    When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/BO3Cri6 via @libcon

  26. the commune

    When is it the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? Not now – for these reasons http://bit.ly/nWKETb (a reply to @BenChu_)

  27. W.Kasper

    Actually just burn his house down and break his arms. The only way to stop him from being a wanker http://t.co/QxizVmO

  28. Mijeroh Tialobi

    RT @libcon: When is the right time to talk of the riot 'root causes'? http://t.co/zP5yHDZ

  29. smileandsubvert

    When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? http://t.co/nWmOLmG

  30. Tamer Mowafy

    RT @smileandsubvert: When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? http://t.co/qdWIyRt

  31. Anasim Qatoot

    “@kalimakhus: RT @smileandsubvert: When is the right time to talk of the riot ‘root causes’? http://t.co/pZiyCtY”

  32. Gary Dunion

    Does this http://t.co/74ZoCMj make @sunny_hundal reconsider this http://t.co/mlFqedu ? #ukriots

  33. Nishma Doshi

    Does this http://t.co/74ZoCMj make @sunny_hundal reconsider this http://t.co/mlFqedu ? #ukriots

  34. Zofia Walczak

    Just read Sunny Hundal's piece arguing we shouldn't be looking at 'root causes' of rioting. Tone + reasons = argh http://t.co/e6lwIwc

  35. Gary Dunion

    @charlisteele Bearing in mind I *don't* hate him – this is a good example of what I see as, at best, timidity: http://t.co/yeBSqZe





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