Cameron reads the riot act to Britain: We must tackle 'broken society' [VIDEO]
In a speech today, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that last week's riots were not the result of race, poverty, or his own austerity cuts but rather "people with a twisted moral code."
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In a speech at a youth center in his Oxfordshire constituency, Mr. Cameron denied that racial tensions, poverty, or his government's controversial austerity cuts were to blame. He claimed there were around 120,000 problem families in Britain who had little respect for authority, singling out boys raised without a male role model as especially prone to "rage and anger."
“These riots were not about race: The perpetrators and the victims were white, black, and Asian. These riots were not about government cuts: They were directed at high street stores, not Parliament," said the Conservative prime minister. “And these riots were not about poverty: That insults the millions of people who, whatever the hardship, would never dream of making others suffer like this.
“No, this was about people showing indifference to right and wrong, people with a twisted moral code, people with a complete absence of self-restraint,” he said.
However the speech – which some criticized as outlining a "nanny state" approach – was short of specific policies, although Cameron said those would be revealed in the coming weeks. Both rivals and analysts cautioned against simplistic solutions to the complex societal issues spotlighted by riots that began in London and quickly spread around England.
“There is no easy answer to this because a lot of the problems are deep-rooted," says Ryan Bourne, head of research at the conservative-leaning Centre for Policy Studies in London. "You can’t just wave a magic wand and the issues are going to go away but you don’t need to interfere in people’s private lives to make a difference."
“We think the solutions lie in strengthening the family unit by changing the tax system to incentivize people to get married and stay married," says Mr. Bourne. "Too many children live without a strong male role model, which does lead to bad behavior."
He also singled out education, saying that schools should be allowed more freedom in deciding what to offer rather than being locked into a national curriculum. But Bourne also advocated tackling "shocking" literacy rates among minorities in inner cities and the influx of low-skilled immigrants into Britain.
Oppostion leader decries 'shallow' answers
Labour opposition leader Ed Miliband, speaking at his old state school in north London, characterized the riots as part of a larger wave of greed and criminality in Britain.
He cited bankers whose questionable practices led to the credit crunch, members of parliament who had cheated on their expenses, and News of the World journalists that hacked into the phones of British citizens to get sensational stories.
Mr. Miliband criticized Cameron for not properly evaluating the challenges at hand and soliciting input from a wide array of his constituents.
“Day by day the prime minister has revealed himself to be reaching for shallow and superficial answers, not the lasting solutions the country needs, based on the wisdom and insights of our communities," said Miliband. “Instant and simple judgments bring bad solutions. Of course, there is a demand for quick action but a new policy a day, knee-jerk gimmicks not thought through – they won’t solve the problem.”