Home > Opinions > Analysis: The London Riots of 7th/8th August

Analysis: The London Riots of 7th/8th August

Police in action last night

This morning’s newspapers and TV reports are linking the riots to everything from the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government to public spending cuts. Various political groups are claiming responsibility, calling for lessons to be learned or saying “I told you so”.

They’re wrong do to so. None of last night’s rooting had anything to do with politics. They were fuelled by the simple realisation that the police weren’t going to stop the rioting and looting. For sure, I don’t doubt that the widely publicised cuts to the benefits budget had an effect, but last night was a lot simpler than many mainstream commentators and politicians are making out.

For a certain section of society, it’s very easy to milk the system; there is a huge amount of carrot and very little stick. When society stops using the stick, as happened last night when police didn’t move in swiftly and crush the riots immediately, this section of society sees that as an invitation to go on the rampage.

Shops were looted. Shops were set on fire. Stones, bottles and bricks were thrown at the police. After the student riots earlier this year and the G20 before those, I don’t blame the police officers on the ground for not getting stuck in – after all, the mainstream media would condemn them for cracking a few heads together. But in a situation like this we desperately need firm policing and a no-nonsense stance against looters.

These rioters and looters aren’t politically motivated. Their only common attribute is greed, and wanting designer goods for nothing. Curry’s stores all over London were targeted by looters last night, while designer goods shops like H&M and Footlocker were also hit. These people are too used to getting something for nothing. As long as the forces of law and order stand by, watch them do it and give them a desultory slap on the wrist afterwards, they’ll just keep on doing it.

Categories: Opinions
  1. Monday, 8 August, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Completely agree. Sure some people might have had some vague issue with the police for one reason or another, but smashing into shops and superstores and stealing the contents is hardly going to solve the issue.

    I would put money on the vast majority of the people realising the police were so busy that there were windows of opportunity to loot and they did so – out of greed, not for any reasonable principle. Maybe it was lucky the mainstream media was slow to report this. Perhaps people didn’t know it was going on which limited the damage a little.

  2. Romfordrobbie
    Monday, 8 August, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I did think on saturday night that tottenham hale retail park would probably get turned over as the plod would be too busy to respond .

    Good reporting last night / this morning by the way , nice to be able to warn friends in leyton to get out as there was nothing on mainstream media

    Well done Gaz

  3. Monday, 8 August, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Definitely, I would say the rioters were simply opportunistic. It looked as if it was a coordinated stunt, but really it was just people across London realising police we spread thin and taking advantage

  4. arren
    Monday, 8 August, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    walworth road is getting it right now !!!

  5. norwood lanz
    Monday, 8 August, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    I completely agree with the commentator – on greed being the motivating factor in this looting .
    – One trouble is that while Boris and Tories call them criminals and Labour attempt the make political capital out of this – it seems there are not enough voices that the young respect calling it what it is… i just hear local community leaders speaking about years of tension and cutbacks in services as the reasons – whilst they by no means condone whats going down, their reasons will be used to justify the actions of looters and rioters.

  6. basil
    Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    We have slowly slid into producing a younger generation of disrespect and greed for yrs now. Ever since Thatcher stripped away the broadcasting standards way back in the 80s and ever since film companies have been competing to produce an ever more shocking offering of film with violence and killing and sex as the normal entertainment standard. Privatization and competition in business created the every man for himself culture and as young men became irrisponsible and more selfish we saw the surge of 1 parent families. The fatherless generation soon out grew their long suffering poverty stricken mothers now drunk or high on crack and h. The government then failed to inspire and support our young people and now the police cuts and underfunding have left us unprotected. I think David Cameron needs to rethink his big society. We need to begin seriously investing into our police force and also address those aspects of normal life that have been eating away for years at our standards and shape of society. We also need to address how children are being raised. How their parents mental health is. If you have stressed out mothers and fathers then you’ll end up with stressed out kids. They end up in a new street family. now these loonies have taken over the asylum. I just hope the real political idiots don’t manage to hijack this and Allow the ugly head of fascism to emerge.

  7. wargasm jawspasm
    Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Not political – really? any statistics on the proportion of labour council controlled areas that were trashed? or is it just my imagination that perversely the affluent areas were not targets for looting and the ‘search for social justice’

  8. Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    “There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

    Martin Luther King Jr.

  9. wargasm jawspasm
    Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 at 2:11 PM


    “There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of rich, powerful and organized psychopaths controlling that society, who feel that they are ‘chosen ones’ and who are adept at playing one side against the other, and who feel no one else has a stake in society other than as slaves; who will naturaly feel that they have nothing valuable to lose. People who have a stake in their society, who built it up over 10,000 years since the ice sheets rolled back will normally protect and cherish that society, but when malcontent hoardes arive to plunder the fruits of that society, its because they don’t have their own comparable society, and hence they consciously want to destroy their host and turn it into the society that best suits them, since they cannot ever hope to comprehend nor run anything more complex than a pre medieval fuedal society.”

    wargasm jawspasm the first and only

  10. Tuesday, 9 August, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    the production of greed and desire is quite political. this is imposible to apoliticise i feel

  11. Don MacKeen
    Thursday, 11 August, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    The history of riots have produced countless analysis like yours – “they’re just greedy”. No doubt that is part of it – but be careful you’re not doing exactly what you accuse mainstream politicians of doing – jumping the gun and looking for an answer that suits them. This requires real analysis and research, and that means talking to people who were involved among other things. And if it’s all down the greed, may I remind everyone: the fish stinks from the head down. We are all part of this society and we all play a part in making it what it is.

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