APOLOGISTS FOR THE MOB; This Week, the Chattering-Class Media Seized on a Report Claiming the August Rioters Were the Victims of Oppressive Policing. but as This Investigation Reveals, the Research Behind It Was Dangerously Flawed
Byline: SPECIAL REPORT by Paul Bracchi
ONE OF the rioters who took part in the mob violence which swept through Britain in the summer was a young man called Daniel. At least that is what we were told his name was when he appeared -- or rather his silhouette was shown -- on BBC2's Newsnight earlier this week.
Daniel was abroad with friends, it emerged, when he started picking up messages on his BlackBerry smartphone about the escalating unrest back home. The news prompted him and his mates to abandon their foreign holiday because as Daniel himself put it: 'Well, this chance may never come again.'
They certainly didn't waste it. Soon Daniel and his cronies were in the thick of the 'action' on the streets of London. 'There were buildings already set alight and I've petrol bombed it and it felt good,' he said on Newsnight.
'The police had their shields up and were running so we thought: "OK they're on the defensive." So we "OK they're on the defensive." So we started picking up bricks and bottles and throwing them at them. It felt good. It felt like Call Of Duty [a violent video game]. I threw a brick at a policewoman. I saw her drop. I could have easily bricked her again but I didn't because she was a woman." '
His motive, he claimed, was 'revenge': Revenge for 'all the benefits they cut off'; revenge for 'raising up the prices so people can't afford to go to university'; but, most of all, revenge against the police who have 'caused hell for me'.
Not once was Daniel even challenged about his attempt to give his spate of violence a veneer of political justification. Instead, he was given a public platform to gloat and boast about his criminality along with a succession of other rioters, including Alex, a Glaswegian, in his 30s, now living in Tottenham, who set fire to a police car ('I felt great, excited. F*** them, f*** them scum, b*******'), and twentysomething Jade, who also attacked a police vehicle ('We violated it, just like they violate us').
Those of us who might have concluded that 'Daniel', with his Molotov cocktails, and all the others who rampaged through the streets of Britain during those five days of madness in August, were nothing more than opportunist, mindless thugs, were misguided all along, it seems.
They are victims, apparently; victims, moreover, whose grievances deserve to be heard.
At least, this is what we are invited to believe by the Guardian newspaper and the London School of Economics -- aided and abetted, of course, by their friends at the BBC.
The Guardian, in collaboration with the LSE, spent three months interviewing 270 people who rioted, for a special report, entitled Reading The Riots, which was made public this week. Its conclusions? That widespread anger and frustration at the way police engage with communities was the significant factor behind the trouble -- not a culture of greed or rampant consumerism.
In other words, it was not really 'their' fault.
Now, you or I -- like everyone apart from the Guardianistas of this world -- knows what you have just read is little more than Left-wing claptrap dressed up as serious academic research. Apart from anything else, the majority of those the researchers spoke to had criminal convictions. Not exactly breaking news that the Guardian found that criminals hate the police.
YET over at Broadcasting House, the study went down very well indeed. They called it 'groundbreaking'.Needless to say, the BBC ran with the report's findings on its flagship Radio 4 Today programme.
It was also the lead item on Newsnight on Monday, occupying nearly 40 minutes of the flagship current affairs programme, relegating the eurozone crisis to the final 15-minute slot of the running order.
'What lessons can and should we learn from listening to why they say they did what they did?', asked Jeremy Paxman, before introducing a special film by the driving force behind the report -- the Guardian's reporter, Paul Lewis. …