Belfast Telegraph

Cameron's bluster on reaction to riots

It was billed at David Cameron's fight back speech after the recent rioting in England, but it is difficult to know just what he hoped to achieve with it. He flailed about like a drowning man, lashing out at every conceivable target, but with no apparent cohesion to his thoughts. He returned to his often-repeated theme of broken Britain, which is a good sound bite but actually an insult to the vast majority of people throughout the UK who live good, productive lives and who were appalled at the rioting.

Another suggestion was extending non-military national youth service to every 16-year-old. Just how he could make every teenager sign up to this voluntary initiative was just one question left unanswered. But somehow it was symptomatic of his whole approach.

The speech was fond of soundbite initiatives, tackling health and safety policies, turning around the lives of thousands of problem families, improving education, introducing anti-gang measures and putting more police on the beat while simultaneously cutting their overall numbers.

As Opposition leader Ed Miliband said, this was a speech loud on bluster and very short on detail. The scale of the rioting was such that the Prime Minister had to be seen to be reacting, but it would make more sense to follow Mr Miliband's call for an inquiry into the causes of the rioting before trying to find a remedy. Yet, at the same time it is difficult for many to take moral lectures from politicians, men and women who were in overwhelming numbers guilty of exploiting a lax system of expenses for their own gain. Having looted the public purse they are hardly in a strong position to castigate those who looted high streets the length and breadth of England.

However, one response to the rioting has brought universal approval. More than 2,700 people have been brought before the courts, sitting day and night, to face charges of looting, rioting and related crimes. Compare that with the snail's pace grinding of the wheels of justice on this side of the Irish Sea where rioters don't end up in the dock for months, if ever.

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