It may be the dead of August, but the worst riots London has seen in over two decades has awoken MPs from their summer lethargy as they prepare to descend on Westminister tomorrow for an emergency debate. Taking a lead from David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, some are even cutting short their holidays to come back.
And one airline is taking its civic duty in this respect very seriously: step forward EasyJet. It may not be known for its customer service — my recent trip to Barcelona via Luton airport was pretty dreadful — but the airline has taken on this particular task with gusto, setting up a helpline dedicated to flying MPs home. The airline tells my colleague Mark Odell that it decided to set up the service after three MPs contacted the company on Tuesday within an hour of Cameron’s historic parliamentary recall — his second in two months. It says so far 60-70 MPs have got in touch.
David Cameron is facing one of the toughest challenges to his premiership, without a doubt. Boris Johnson is also under pressure like never before. (This morning he criticised the government for cutting police numbers, in a classic example of BoJo’s ability to tack left or right whenever it suits – and to find the overlap between both).
In ten years’ time, documentaries about the coalition will be accompanied by images of burning cars and riot police – just as you can’t watch a programme about the Thatcher years without footage of the Brixton/St Paul’s/Toxteth riots.
But this does not mean that there are not major political risks to Ed Miliband from the riots, if his party – or major figures within it – are caught on the wrong side of public sentiment.
They say a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Right now, the general sentiment in London and other major cities is that the law-abiding majority has been effectively mugged by a small number of feral youths. People are not in the mood for hugging hoodies; at least not right now.
Labour MPs and Ken Livingstone have a right to criticise the cuts to council services and the education maintenance allowance and the imminent jump in tuition fees. But they are playing with fire to link these to the current riots, which appear to be driven more by greed and excitement than concerns about economic or educational opportunities.
Nick Watt over at the Guardian’s political blog has a transcript of last night’s Newsnight Read more