Cameron talks water cannon and “responsibility”

No sooner did I post the previous entry about dead Britain, than I saw this piece published tonight at the Daily Mail. It indicates that things have gotten so bad in Britain that David Cameron feels he must at least pretend that his government is alive and functioning as a government. The story says that on Thursday he will authorize use of water cannon and rubber bullets against rioters, that he wants rioters who have broken the law to be jailed (implying that before this such offenders would not have been jailed!), and that the government will make it easier for local councils to expel rioters from public housing (that it has been so hard up to this .point for them to do so shows how far gone Britain is). Such as they are, these are steps in the right direction. Do they constitute a turnaround from the abyss, even the beginning of such a turnaround, or just the usual PR from the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Last updated at 1:53 AM on 11th August 2011

David Cameron will today set out plans to combat ‘sick’ elements in British society after backing the use of water cannon and rubber bullets against rioters.

Vowing to fight the moral decline which has led to the widespread looting by teenagers, the Prime Minister will spell out plans for a nationwide ‘fightback’ by decent people. [LA replies: Two-to-one this national fightback turns into a fightback against, you know, intolerance and discrimination.]

In a first move, ministers last night vowed to kick those convicted of rioting out of council houses—and change the law to make it easier to evict criminals.

In a statement to Parliament today, Mr Cameron will spell out moves to compensate riot-damaged businesses and help them get back on their feet.

Facing the most serious test of his premiership, the Prime Minister yesterday placed six units of water cannon on 24 hours’ notice to deploy and made clear the police can use rubber bullets against the rioters.

Water cannon has never been used on the mainland and would have to be brought over from Northern Ireland—though police chiefs have so far resisted its use.

Echoing yesterday’s Daily Mail front page, he said: ‘We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way.’

The Prime Minister made an impassioned attack on the feckless parents, failed education policies of the past and welfare handouts which led to the ‘sick and irresponsible’ behaviour of young thugs.

‘There are pockets of our society that are not only broken, but frankly sick,’ he said.

‘When we see children as young as 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of an injured young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear that there are things that are badly wrong in our society.

‘For me it is clear that the root cause of this mindless selfishness is the same thing that I’ve spoken about for years. It is a complete lack of responsibility in our society. It is as much a moral problem as a political problem.’ [LA replies: “Responsibility.” This is the word that supposedly moderate liberals such as Amitai Etzioni have used for decades to show that they’re not completely relativistic, that they believe in some kind of standards, and thus in some kind of normative social authority to enforce the standards. But “responsibility” as it is used by such liberals is an empty buzzword—no concrete meaning ever attaches to it. It’s a way for liberals to pretend that liberalism is not leading us into the abyss.]

Mr Cameron will today seek to turn a setback into an opportunity, spelling out plans to put restoring ‘responsibility’ at the heart of the government agenda for the rest of the year.

He will formally declare that the unrest of the last few days is a riot, allowing business owners to claim against such clauses in their insurance. Ministers will also extend the 14-day limit for claims to be registered to around six weeks.

In addition, the Government is planning to help local authorities compensate shop owners who do not have the right insurance—reactivating payouts previously given to flood victims.

As the fightback gathered pace, Mr Cameron said those guilty of violent disorder should be jailed. [LA replies: Oh, wow, people who committed violent felonies should be tried and punished. I guess Cameron believes in a restoration of “responsibility” after all.]

Jonathan Glanz, head of housing at Westminster City Council, said: ‘Social housing is a privilege, not a right and as such we will look to evict social housing tenants convicted for criminal behaviour during the riots.’ [LA replies: Ok, that’s a step in the right directon. But what about all this jihadists and terror supporters living in big houses at public expense?]

Current rules let town hall chiefs act only against those who are convicted of crimes within their own local authority. [That is a classic example of Britain’s existing regime, that up to now, local officials’ ability to expel criminals from public housing has been so absurdly restricted.]

But Housing Minister Grant Shapps will bring in tougher regulations allowing them to kick out people guilty of crimes anywhere, in a crackdown on neighbours from hell. [Well, that’s a step in the right direction.]

Mr Shapps said: ‘This is a simple message for those involved in the rioting: there will be consequences and they can be long-standing. Someone who has been convicted can have it taken into account when it comes to their housing.’

Two London magistrates’ courts, Highbury and Camberwell, were told to remain open throughout the night to process alleged rioters.

Mr Cameron’s rhetoric about ‘sick Britain’ is an echo of his former claims about ‘broken Britain’ but allies believe the riots have helped the public to understand what it means. ‘People didn’t get it before,’ one said. ‘Now there’s widespread public support for getting to grips with the problem.’

Despite the fightback, senior Tories yesterday warned that the situation has imperilled Mr Cameron’s chances of re-election.

Many are angry that he refused to return home from his holiday until the violence had spiralled out of control. They want to see a crackdown on gang culture and tougher police tactics.

A senior backbencher said: ‘Cameron has a couple of days to get a really solid grip on this. If that were not to happen it would be a serious cause for concern.’

- end of initial entry -

August 11

Paul K. writes:

The article reports:

Jonathan Glanz, head of housing at Westminster City Council, said: ‘Social housing is a privilege, not a right and as such we will look to evict social housing tenants convicted for criminal behaviour during the riots.’

I question how meaningful this is. I recently read “Gang Leader for a Day” by Sudhir Venkatesh about tenant and gang life in Chicago’s Robert Taylor housing projects. He noted that many of the “baby daddies” who lived in the project were not listed on the lease, allowing their girlfriends to continue to get welfare support. Unless the British system is significantly different, I don’t see how a man convicted of rioting can be prevented from shacking up with his girlfriend-of-the-moment in public housing.

Anyway, if these miscreants were kept out of public housing, where are they supposed to sleep, on the sidewalk? What’s the plan? It’s not as if they’re going to straighten out and provide for their own rent.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 11, 2011 12:15 AM | Send

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