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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Liberal Democrats lead call for commonsense on riots aftermath

This morning's Observer records the growing row within the coalition as to how to deal with the hundred plus people who were arrested and charged with offences following last week's English riots.

They record that the Liberal Democrats are pressing hard for an end to "kneejerk" reactions by politicians and are warning that stripping those involved of their benefits could worsen crime on the streets.

Quite rightly, Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes is insisting that long-term solutions lie in supporting communities by offering opportunities and redistributing wealth, not slashing help from the state and cutting taxes for the rich:

Writing in the Observer, he says: "We need to demonstrate ambition to have a responsible society where all people understand and are aware of their obligations to each other. This means we must not cut taxes for the rich or take away public support for the needy."

Referring to plans, backed by many Tories, to cut benefits and evict families of rioters and looters from their homes, Hughes, whose south London constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark has one of the highest concentrations of council homes, adds: "We should be careful not to rush into kneejerk solutions including over-hasty moves to change the social contract and approaches to sentences which may have the reverse effect to that intended."

As Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also cautioned against "kneejerk" reactions, Hughes's comments were backed by the Lib Dems' welfare spokeswoman, Jenny Willott, who said she was "very worried" about moves to cut benefits for those involved in the riots, when the same punishment would not apply to others who had committed equally serious offences.

"One obvious problem would be that if people don't have money they would turn more to acquisitive crime. I completely understand people's desire to stamp out the problem, but it is important that we do not make things worse," Willott said.

They are both absolutely right. No matter what the causes of the disturbances, we have to think about future community relations and cohesion. Punishment for wrongdoers has to be appropriate. We will achieve nothing by resorting to punitive penalties that create yet more social problems.
Please ask LibDems not to support cuts in Police Service!
The apparent absence of rioting and looting in Cardiff, Wrecsam, Swansea or Mertyr etc. is like Sherlock Holmes' "The Dog who didn't bark". Surely these towns and cities have as much poverty and deprivation as Bristol or Birmingham just 40 miles over the border. The same applies to Scotland. Is it an intrinsically greater sense of community, the absence of great contrast of wealth and poverty, or even the fact of devolved Administration via the Welsh Assembly. It would be interesting to hear from Kirsty Williams or Jenny Willot what they think.
Peter Chivall in Peterborough (we had not riots or looting, either.)
I've got to say, I fully support the cuts made to police services; the only time I see police officers out fo their vehicles is when they are in either Tesco's Maesteg or Morrisons on Baglan Moors; the sooner we bring over Bill Bratton to sort out this "Gang" culture that's been developing over the past 13 years or so, the better!
Simon hughes is on the right track and Nick Clegg knows that the ever wise citizens of middle England would like something done about this .
Redistribution of wealth and physical work is what these lads need or take up Rugby training or other sports. This might be the answer , to round them up and make them play sport?
Should bankers loose their tax breaks? Even things out a bit!
What tax breaks? Bankers pay tax like everybody else.
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