12/08/2011 Newsnight


David Grossman looks back at a tumultuous week of rioting in English cities. Gavin Esler considers how damaged the fabric of England has been by the unrest.

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Tonight - after a week of rioting, how big is the damage to England's


social fabric? Will we look back on the summer of 2011 as deeply


significant, or a fleeting few days of madness? Gavin Esler has


surveyed the damage to the nation. We live in a very different country


from the one we thought we had one week ago. The institutions we took


for granted reasserted themselves in the end, but it also proved we


cannot always rely on them. With us at the end of an


extraordinary week, the historian David Starkey, author Owen Jones


and crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell. And as images of burning cities are


beamed around the world, foreign dictators are making mileage out of


our misfortune. What does the rest of the world make of us now? David


Tang, Tyler Brule and Nabila Good evening. The streets are calm,


the rioters now diminished to a subdued and steady train through


the courts - public order, then, nominally restored. But the


reminders of an anarchic week are everywhere - burnt-out buildings,


broken windows, and yes, a highly visible police presence. Those


numbers will inevitably diminish as we try return to some kind of


normality. But tonight we ask if things have fundamentally shifted,


and whether the week of rioting has shown us something of our country


we didn't know before. Today, as the unseemly tussle continues over


who should take credit for bringing England back from the brink, our


political correspondent David Grossman has been speaking to all


sides. What has been the fauna of first of all from those comments


made last night on this programme by Sir Hugh Orde? Yes, we have had


this bust-up between the politicians and the police over who


should take credit. There is a lot of annoyance from senior police


officers about the suggestion that it took the politicians coming back


from their holidays to bang heads together to get things sorted out.


Last night we did an interview with Sir Hugh Orde, where he said it was


ridiculous that the Home Secretary does not have the power to order


the police a cup of coffee. Today, the Home Secretary has been much


more appreciative of the role taken by the police. The Home Secretary


has no power whatsoever to order the cancellation of police leave.


The fact that politicians chose to come back is an irrelevance in


terms of the tactics which were already developing. I accept that


the people who got the riots under control were the brave policemen


and women who were out there on the front line, dealing with the riots.


What about the Prime Minister himself? There is some puzzlement


at Downing Street about these claims. He does not claim that he


came back to rescue the country. And going through what he said in


the Commons yesterday, he certainly did not claim that. The nearest you


could get was him saying that he had chaired a meeting. But we have


to cast our mind back to where we were a couple of nights ago, and


what the country did not need was a lesson about chains of command and


who has responsibility for the police and the judiciary. What we


needed to know was that people were taking tough decisions, and the


country had leadership. That is what they're emphasising tonight.


What about the public, who are they giving credit to? It is interesting,


we're getting the first polls in now. One poll tonight by ITN, 30%


said Cameron had done a good job, 45% said the acting head of the Met


Police, Tim Godwin, had done a good job. This is another poll, and this


is interesting. It is about cuts to police numbers - should the cuts to


police be reversed? 71% agreed that those cuts should be reversed. The


Government says they will not be. And then, on the question of


sentencing, we have seen some very robust sentences for some of the


early offenders in the magistrates' courts. This was the question of


the automatic jail sentence no matter how small the involvement.


78% agreed. I understand that going forward, there will not be a


meeting of COBRA tomorrow morning. The meeting this morning was, I'm


told, just to reporting exercise, There can never be a good time to


have riots, but these ones have come at a particularly inauspicious


moment in our history, against a backdrop of austerity and severe


economic straits. Some have argued there's a strong link between the


two - others say that's facile. Whichever side of that particular


divide you're on, the two things running in parallel have provoked


the question of how much trouble our society really is in. Gavin


Esler has been assessing what happened this week, and whether it


gives any clues as to where Britain is heading. His piece contains some


It was something we hoped we would never see again - cities on fire.


Residents fleeing their homes. got outside and saw the building,


the flames going up the building. Businesses destroyed, pitched


battles in the heart of English cities. Who would do such a thing,


terrorising their own neighbours, stealing, looting, destroying


anything they came across? The riots of 2011 came in a week which


changed our country and made us ask some terrible questions about who


we are and what we have become. Who were these people who were


destroying our cities? What should we do with them? If we saw some of


the worst, we also saw some of the best - community spirit and


extraordinary tolerance for people -- from people who have lost so


much. It was a week to be ashamed and occasionally, just a little


proud. It started in Tottenham a week ago, one of the most deprived


London boroughs. Police marksmen killed a man they were trying to


arrest, Mark Duggan, in disputed circumstances. In the aftermath, a


peaceful protest turned ugly. Patrol cars, a shop and a bus was


set ablaze by masked gunmen. The following morning, we slowly woke


up to what had been done to one of our communities by some of its


citizens. The victims were neighbours, small businesses, local


residents - us. Tottenham's aim be toured the community and expressed


the outrage of many of the rioters. We now need restraint and calm. I


say to those who wanted to come to Tottenham to cause violence and


disturbance to stay away. But other people were also listening - those


who saw the riot not as an outrage that as an opportunity. London is


hit by a second night of rioting. Looting and vandalism spread to


other areas of the capital... violence was to spread like a


madness which proved contagious. Eventually it spread to Birmingham,


Manchester, Nottingham and other English cities. When we woke up to


more damage, the same questions were repeated from the previous


night. Where were the police? Why didn't they stop it? Why was the


Prime Minister, his deputy and the Home Secretary all on holiday at


the same time? The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was the first


to be visibly back on duty. Can a ask you, is this what is going to


happen in England now, with the cuts? People suddenly being made


homeless? I don't think so. weren't we protected...?


violence continued. By now, the simmering anger of the law-abiding


majority was directed at police, politicians, and above all, the end


of the within. It is absolutely disgusting, they are feral Rats,


what are those parents doing? Those children should be at home. This


was the shocking incident of the Malaysian student robbed by those


who had been appearing to help him. It summed up the viciousness of the


events of the week. When the Prime Minister finally returned from his


holiday in Italy, his response was resoundingly tough. I have this


very clear message to those people who are responsible for this


wrongdoing and criminality. You will feel the full force of the law.


And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to


face the punishment. And then, something remarkable - tens of


thousands of people, many with brushes in their hands, turned out


to help clean up their own neighbourhoods, waiting for police


to let them into crime scenes. Some scathingly talked of the pointless


destruction as recreational rioting, shopping with violence. What


happened here last night and most of this is not about politics, it


is about a individual and what they want to do, and all they want to do


is kill, take, steel and Rob from people but are working hard.


Political classes tried hard to catch up and catch on. It is time


we stopped hearing all of this nonsense about sociological


justifications for wanton criminality. Whatever people's


grievances may be, it does not justify smashing up someone's shop,


and wrecking their livelihood. train of discussion could be heard


everywhere - were their reasons for the rioting, or merely excuses?


we are doing is jailing our children. Look at the mental


institutions - young, black people. His any of your kids in prison? His


any of your kids getting stopped and searched? No, they're not. So,


continue the riots. From street corners in Clapham to the Newsnight


studios, you could hear the same differences of opinion. On the


question of parenting... Who has been in charge of parenting for the


last 13 years? If there is anyone who's responsible for the


environment in which these young people grow up, it is you and the


Labour Party. As London's slowly came back to normal, the violence


continued in other big cities. In Birmingham, three young men were


killed when a car ran into a group of Asian men trying to protect


their homes and businesses. New fears followed of reprisals into


ethnic tensions and vigilantes. There are pockets of our society


which are not just broken but frankly sick. But of all the words


spoken this week, the father of one of the young men killed in


Birmingham stands out. Anything I ever wanted done, I would always


ask him to sort it out for me. Not my eldest, but my youngest. And


they killed him. In the past week, you could see broken Britain and


sick Britain. You could also see people volunteering to clean up


their own neighbourhoods - Community Britain, solidarity


Britain, generous Britain. A society which got over the shock,


mostly kept calm and carried on. The young Malaysian student who was


mugged appeared in a news conference, and thousands of pounds


was donated to help him. We live in a different country from the one we


thought we lived in one week ago. The police, the politicians and the


government reasserted themselves in the end, but it proved that at


times, we cannot always rely on them. Beyond those institutions,


our society, people like you and me, also failed for a while. We did


come together, but only after so Joining me now, the historian David


Starkey, the author of Chavs, Owen Jones, and the crime writer Dreda


Say Mitchell. The scenes of wild rioting were played out around the


world. Do you think this has been a profound cultural shift this week?


Not this week. I'm sorry, I'm a historian, we will only know in the


future. But one thing is for sure, profound changes have happened. In


one sense, these riots are completely so official. Somebody


brilliantly put it, it is shopping with violence. It is merely


extended commercialism. For me, the key image was the woman cool the


trying on a pair of trainers outside a shop which had been


looted. So, that's one aspect of it. But in one area, there has been a


profound cultural change. I have been re-reading Enoch Powell,


rivers of blood. Its privacy was absolutely right in one sense. The


river did not flow with blood, but flames wrapped around Tottenham and


Clapham. But it was not into communal violence, this is where he


was completely wrong. What happened was that a substantial section of


the chavs that you wrote about have become black. The whites have


become black. The particular sort of violent, destructive, and a


holistic gangster culture has become the fashion. And black-and-


white, boy and girl, operate in this language together. This


language which is wholly false, which is a Jamaican patois which


has been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have this


sense of literally a foreign In that speech he talked about the


black man having the whip hand over the white man. It's not skin colour.


It's colour churl. List ton David Lammy, a successful man. If you


with list tong him on radio, you'd think he was white. David,


absolutely, absolutely not at all really. Of all the theories we've


heard this week, this whole notion that this is down to the way that


some young people may choose to speak, that people... Behave.


People, David, like myself, who maybe talk in a particular way.


don't talk like them. "them ", this is the problem. It's them and us


culture. We can't keep thinking of this as them and us argument. We


keep talking about different communities. You keep talking about


black culture, black communities are not homogeneous groups.


course not. There are black cultures, lots of different


cultures. What we need to be doing, we need to be thinking about


ourselves as not individual communities, as one community. We


need to stop talking about them ar and us. We need to talk about our


children. We need to be using words like "we" and start putting this


blame on different people. The blame culture has got to psto. We


have to face head on what the issues are. When you say that white


culture has adopted black culture, are you saying that has been at the


heart of the rioting? Is it black culture that has caused rioting?


Remember, what we're dealing with, listen to these boys, listen to -


think you should answer the question. This is the text sent by


the girl who had been the Olympic ambassador, who then engages in


shocking acts of looting. Pigs shouldn't of killed that guy last


night innit, then they wouldn't get blown up. Girls goes to steal wiis.


"That's outrageous, what you're saying. You're equating black


culture with criminality - No, a particular sort. Let me finish. You


said David Lammy when you heard him sounded white. What you meant by


that is that white people equals being respectable and that white


people, by adopting black culture is worse. You glorify rap? David I


use rap in schools to teach children literary devices and it is


a fantastic way - David, do you equate rap with rioting on the


streets? Is that what you think? glorifies it. Rap actually, some


rap, if you look at their void yoz, actually it reinforces the


materialistic world that we live in. When was the last time you watched


a rap video or looked at a rap song. Tell me about a rap artist, David?


I'm curious to know about this. You hear stories and you deal with


impeerical evidence, you base your theories on evidence. Explain what


your evidence is before you make, frankly what a lot of viewers will


find offensive generalisations. This these times, we need plain


speaking. Plain speaking is necessary. You need facts, David.


will give them. You are doing a Jeremy Paxman. I took part in


Jamie's Dream School. I was involved in this. We used rap. We


used rap to explore particular notions of masculinity, of violence,


of dominance, of the relationship between old aristocratic violent


practice and modern gang culture. It's very interesting. It is


historically interesting. When we look at the facts, bringing it back


to rioting, clearly it was not a riot that was only dominated by


black people. It was, there were many white people. It started as a


black protest about the killing of a black man. So can we just have


that fact absolutely straightforward. A peaceful protest.


A community protest. It quickly ceased to be peaceful. We've got to


understand in Tottenham in particular, in this country black


people are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched. In


Tottenham one - let me finish. of gun crime is black. One in two


people in Tottenham grow newspaper poverty. I no know. There's a sense


of harassment by the police. This is just the latest in an example of


a civilian killed in very dubious circumstances. What the IPCC


originally came up with... utterly outrageous. I want to


manufacture this on. David Cameron said this wasn't about race at all.


He thinks it's about crime. Culture. He said it's crime actually. Let's


look at the damage to the social fabric in terms of what this says.


You talked about the shopping violence. Shopping with violence,


yeah. Do you think this is part of an inquiztive culture that endless


consumerism, it wasn't mindless rioting. It was rioting with a


clear commercial purpose. Absolutely. We are the society.


We've tripped ourselves up. What have we emphasised to children,


success equals money. That's what we've been saying for such a long


time. So is it any wonder that the type of shops they were looting, it


was all about materialism. If you think about it, we've had a


recession. One of the issues of our recession is about the way that


banks behave. We let our banks off basically. I don't - Were any bank


as tacked? Ferel bankers and looters. Despite all this stuff on


politicians, on the press, on bankers, no public buildings were


attacked. If you get a real political outbreak, public


buildings are attacked. Can we just move on to something - So that kind


of protest is OK? No, it's not OK. I mean I don't actually think that


direct, I don't think there is a human right to riot. There is a


right to protest. There is a right to protest. Can we turn this round?


I am not attacking these groups. What do you mean by "these groups".


Please, you correctly say these people feel excluded, they're poor,


they can't get jobs. They're searched bit police. Now why is it


that these groups particularly in these areas, you were saying black


males... I'll give you an example David. Can we look - I will give


you an example to this building - Can I move this on. I have to stop


this. You are using black and white culture interchangably as good and


bad. I want to know how much damage you think this has done to the


fabric of society. I think it's considerable amount of damage. What


I would like to see is a recognition that what is the way


out for these boys and girls. The way out - You think that's by


dropping black culture? No, well, I think it's a particular form. I


think - I find it really... Why is it so important to do so? Because


this type of black male culture mill taits against education.


is nothing to do with that. There will be people watching who think


that black culture is synonymous with gang culture at least.


Absolutely. That is something that we need to fight against. There's


an angry backlash and understandably so. People felt


terrorised in their communities. I felt that and my friends felt that.


There's a dangerous climate where to even begin to understand the


underlying social and economic causes is seen as justifying


mindless thuggery. It's not do-re- mi-fa-so-la-ti-do that. We have to


accept there is a -- it's not to do that. We have to accept that. If we


look at young black men it's half of them are out of work. If you


have a tiny proportion of people who feel they have no future, that


they have no future ahead of them, a tiny proportion take to the


streets in a way that happened this week, in the most tragic of ways,


that is enough to cause chaos on the streets. Unless we solve that,


this will happen again and again. Thank you very much for coming in.


The scenes of wild rioting were played out around the world. It's a


fairly safe bet the world can now see Britain doesn't just do queuing.


This time next year, London will again become a global media focus


for hopefully happier reasons, as the 2012 Olympic Games kick off.


How much has our international image been tarnished? Despotic


regimes may be laughing now at our own lack of order. Can we repair


the damage in the Long Run? Here's Stephen Smith. Centrepiece


of the festival, London South Bank exhibition opens on schedule.


other time of economic hardship, the 50s, the Festival of Britain


was staged beside the Thames in London.


ARCHIVE: Escalators carry visitors to the top floor. For the then


cutting edge technology on show, it was a showcase of British values,


such as resourcefulness and pluck. 60 years on that event is recalled


in another festival, which offers a nostalgic view of the great British


summer holiday and perhaps a gentler time. This tribute to the


Festival of Britain was supposed to embody similar values - optimism,


the best of British in a time of austerity. But visitors coming to


the country this week could be forgiven for having an all together


different impression of the place. The way I perceive the whole way


has been totally madness, frustration, feeling like, you know,


why is this happening to London? What's going on? Not understanding


at all. It's unbelievable because I have been here before. I've never


seen something like this. The kids were saying there's so much


happening in Pakistan, especially Peshawar. When we have come here,


we have brought the disturbance here. So I said no, no, it's not


that. It's just a mishap. It's a coincidence. Our parents gave us a


call and they said "Oh, don't go to London. There's a little bit


trouble, great trouble there." But we decided another way. We had a


nice day. No regrets so far? This is what the outside world is


accustomed to seeing of us, a royal occasion with all the trimmings.


Foreign reporters who are based here have had a very different


story to tell this week. I think it was a shock. It was a shock for


people, because when they come here as tourists, when they come to


London, what do they do? They look at Buckingham Palace, they think


about the Queen. They go to the usual tourist attractions. They see


Bond Street. They do some shopping. Britain is really in German eyes


not really connected with the social unrest and with social


problems of that magnitude. So the public image has got some really


big scratches through those occurrences. London on fire. A wave


of violence... Whether we like it or not, the riots in England have


been headline news around the world. The French were one of several


nations to urge their people to think carefully before travel to


the UK. While state TV in China took the opportunity to question


whether next year's Olympic Games in London would be safe. Television


loyal to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya portrayed the riots as a deprived


people fighting a repressive government. While some other


broadcasters in the Middle East said this was Britain's Arab Spring.


Some Greeks have even been marching in sympathy with English rioters.


They've got the wrong end of the stick says a correspondent here.


They assumed that this was a similar situation to theirs, that


this was a middle class uprising against austerity, against cuts.


This was something they could relate to. My job was to kind of


explain further the nuances. the Iranian government has its own


take on English events. TRANSLATION: The British people


have reached the end of their tether. They've run out of patients


during these times of economic hardship. What this suggests is


that though we may live in a global village, what the English get up to


in summer defies easy translation. With me in the studio the Chinese


businessman and Australian trip newer Sir David Tang, the Canadian


businessman, Tyler Brule and French journalist Nabila Ramdani. Thanks


for coming in. How do you think the world is viewing us now?.


images of the rioting and the burning and all the unrest, I think,


painted a very bad picture of Britain in the last few days across


the world. Two things I would imagine, one, for a foreigner and


in particular, even the seasoned travellers, who used to think that


London was a very safe capital, had to be amazed and possibly start


thinking again whether, in fact, it was such a safe place. Secondly, I


think that dictators and tie rants and toe tatt tairn states around


the world must be absolutely having a distinct sense of sharden Freuder.


Western democracy, touted as the argument for civilisation and in


Arab Spring in particular being pedestrianled and promoted is now


seen to be a totally vulnerable to social unrest and even more


important social injustice. What about how China deals with dissent


though. You saw my government there questioning whether London is able


to handle the Olympics. And I've talked to a lot of Chinese, I


wasn't in China at the time. I was actually in Europe, but when I talk


to them, they, of course, are laughing in a way, because they


couldn't believe that something like this could happen and so, they


are beginning to question all sorts of things. If it wasn't so serious,


it would be farcical hearing from Ahmadinejad in Iran and China's


government about whether London's capable. What's the danger here?


think David Cameron's knee-jerk reaction to the riots is certainly


going to attract an enormous amount of harm to Britain's international


standing. You think he's overreacted? Absolutely. The


possibility to bring in the army, not only upset the Metropolitan


Police, but it made him sound like some kind of insensitive autocrat


and you combine this with the mooted idea to curtail social


networking, and it makes him sound uncomfortably like the autocrats or


the behaviour of the autocrats, which provoked the Arab Spring.


you think there's a possibility of a massive overreaction here? Do you


think anything's going to hit us There has been a lot of discussion


about the poor Malaysian student, which was one of the most striking


images. But if I look at a second image, it is all about the second


biggest investors to this country, which is Japan. We had that


smouldering solely distribution centre. I think there will be some


board meetings, and people will be thinking about their investment


strategy in this country next year. Especially from the point of view


of the Japanese. Soon after their disaster, there was hardly any


looting. Everybody was behaving... But these are the same Japanese,


the same Koreans, the same Americans, who have been watching


our Royal Wedding... That's why they wanted to see something bad.


Unfortunately, in the world today, when you have images of burning


cars allowed by the police to carry on, and let looters loot and so


forth, unfortunately, those images are indelible. You lived through


the Paris riots of 2005 - would you say those images are now Indelible?


People do not say, I'm not going to Paris because of those riots six


years ago. Well, those riots certainly damaged the reputation of


the city of Paris. It made it appear a dangerous, turbulent city.


I'm afraid it is the same thing that will happen to the reputation


of the City of London. As David was saying, I think the pictures on the


footage of arson was perhaps the most depressing aspect, because you


cannot have a worse image. You did not actually see somebody torch a


building, but the images of people smashing up shops and looting, and


the police are standing by, rightly or wrongly, that sends a very bad...


You're saying, it is the failure of the institutions to take control.


People could not believe that the Great Metropolitan Police, Scotland


Yard, Sherlock Holmes... But it is a very old-fashioned idea.


people are old-fashioned. Gang here in a very modern way. People


outside of Britain have a very typical version, understanding, of


what Britain is. I think that caused irreparable damage. Does


Britain need to go on a PR offensive now? Not today. The last


thing the country needs to do right now is to buy up lots of airtime on


CNN to say how great it is. People need to see a plan. If you look at


international investors, they want to know what's going to happen with


youth unemployment - if I'm going to invest in this country, I'm


going to set up a semiconductor plant, I want to make sure there's


a trained workforce here. If you look at this country versus Germany,


our peers want to see a plan. We have not have that this week.


before we go, news of tonight's special Review. Thanks, Emily.


We're live from the Edinburgh Festival tonight, when we highlight


taboo-breaking comedy from Margaret Cho and Ruby Wax, explore


exhibitions by Robert Rauchenberg, Tony Cragg and David Mach. We look


David Grossman looks back at a tumultuous week of rioting in English cities. Gavin Esler considers how damaged the fabric of England has been by the unrest, and Stephen Smith looks at foreign reaction to and coverage of the riots. Presented by Emily Maitlis.

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