london riots

H Rap Brown of the Black Panthers made the famous remark that “violence is as American as cherry pie”. For those who are baffled by the looting in London and elsewhere, I would add – “and riots are as English as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding”.

The historically-minded could cite the Gordon riots of the eighteenth century. But you really don’t need to go all that way back. There were riots in Notting Hill and Brixton in London in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as Toxteth in Liverpool, Handsworth in Birmingham, Moss Side in Manchester. Then were the Poll Tax riots in London towards the end of the Thatcher era. And just recently we had the student riots in LondonRead more

A parallel between the eurozone debt crisis and the London riots: calls on leaders to eschew holiday to “take control”. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero delayed his vacation – patriotically taken, like a good Spaniard, in Andalusia – while David Cameron was forced to rush back from his summer holiday – patriotically taken, like an authentic Englishman, at a villa in Tuscany.

Cameron in particular, already getting a lot of public flak for the phone-hacking scandal, must have hoped the riots would blow over. Unfortunately he had to be seen to be doing his job, and that meant coming back into the thick of it, if only to mouth platitudes about the awfulness of crime. Read more