Cameron denounces UK rioters as 'immoral.' But he's under fire, too.
A week after a murder sparked riots and looting in London and beyond, Prime Minister David Cameron addressed Parliament for nearly three hours today. Here's how Britain responded.
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He spoke and fielded questions for close to three hours. Guardian columnist Julian Glover called it "a parliamentary form of kettling: keep the trouble makers in one place and keep them talking." ("Kettling" is a tactic used by the British police to diffuse angry crowds. Officers surround the crowd, allowing people out gradually.)
According to Telegraph political correspondent James Kirkup, Cameron "cast this week's events as a 'deep moral failure': the people responsible have done bad things and should be punished, he said. Not only have the rioters been immoral, he said, in many cases so have their parents… The potential consequences of neglect and immorality on this scale have been clear for too long, without enough action being taken." He promised "a more moral Britain, a country where people behave better."
Here's Cameron in his own words:
We need to show the world, which has looked on, frankly, appalled, that the perpetrators of the violence we have seen on our streets are not in any way representative of our country – nor of our young people.
We need to show them that we will address our broken society, we will restore a... stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.
Lawmaker responses hinted at a stark divide between two prevailing opinions on the cause of the riots, Mr. Glover writes. According to Cameron and many others, a lack of responsibility is to blame. "Young people smashing windows and stealing televisions is not about inequality," Cameron said. "When you have a deep moral failure you don't hit it with a wall of money."
On the other side was Labour leader Ed Miliband and many other Labour politicians, who argue that there is a link between "inequality and social order" and that the riots are a result of a deep disparity between Britain's upper and lower classes.
The past week could have been "disastrous" for Cameron, but he managed parliament well today, Glover writes. But those on both sides of the political spectrum need to tread carefully, he says.