Thursday, 11 August 2011

Here's a speech prepared by the Daily Mail earlier

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Franklin

Just how far can the riots push Britain to the political right. At the moment, MPs and commentators are falling over themselves to come up with ever more barmy ideas for how to stop the riots. One Tory MEP wants the mass slaughter of all those out on the streets during a disorder situation. Others want to release swarms of angry bees or rampaging bulls or to cover rioters in permanent die.

A petition on Parliament's new e-petitions site wants to see anyone involved in rioting 'loose' their benefits. Little thought appears to have been given to how such people will then be able to live without resorting to more crime.

The current 'solution' doing the rounds is to switch off Twitter and other social networking sites. In a typical 'blame something you don't understand' announcement, David Cameron (who described Twitter users as twats) said this lunchtime that he is looking into the idea. In the same vein, presumably he will be looking to ban telephones.

Conveniently forgetting for the moment that the West criticised Egypt, China and other authoritarian regimes for switching off social media, Cameron also ignores the help that Twitter has been to Police forces in trying to promote public safety messages and to source information about the rioters themselves. Rather than switching off Twitter, Cameron should be ensuring that the Police make best use of it to catch and prosecute those taking part in or formenting criminal behaviour.

Plenty of people have blamed cuts - either to public services or to the Police (although the Police cuts haven't actually happened yet. I won't for a second presume to think I have the answer to why the riots happened or spread so far or so fast. But I do think that we should reassess whether cutting police forces so deep is a good idea - could they project the level of force that seems to have quietened things down again after the cuts?

But what I do know is that whilst those found guilty deserve the full force of the law and appropriate but heavy punishment. But turning Britain into a more illiberal state, restricting human rights or seeking to blame 'them' for 'coming over here and behaving badly' plays straight into the hands of the BNP.

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