The riots: a view from across the Channel

French thinkers offer their analyses.

When the Parisian banlieues went up in flames in 2005, there was a good deal of smugly self-congratulatory commentary on this side of the Channel. In comparison with the French capital, so the argument went, London was a multicultural utopia in which people of many races lived more or less happily side by side. In Paris, by contrast, the disenfranchised, disaffected children of North and West African immigrants were coralled beyond the city limits in barren, bleak housing projects. Rarely did they come into contact with the population of Paris intra muros.

That's now been shown up for the Panglossian nonsense it always was. As James Meek argued the day after the worst of the rioting in London, the "reality of multicultural London" was a kind of uneasy truce between groups "that are rigidly self-separated by race, language, religion, class, money, education and age". And that was a truce that was broken catastrophically on the night of 8/9 August.

Now it's the turn of the French to look at us. In a special feature, Le Monde asks academics and researchers to try to "explain" the "English riots". Has the moral fabric of English society crumbled? Were the riots a sign that multiculturalism has failed (that was certainly the view of the Front National presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen)? Or were the depredations of "ultra-liberalism" to blame?

For sociologist Fabien Truong, "pre-packaged" political explanations, from both left and right, are worthless. Truong goes on to point out the differences between the riots here, which he says are "individualist and consumerist", and the violence in France in 2005. Romain Garbaye offers a similar analysis:

There's nothing new about looting on the other side of the Channel. It happened in Brixton and elsewhere in 1981. But this time, it seemed to take precedence over the desire to confront the police. . . . After the police racism of the 1980s, then the ethnic segragation and failure of social cohesion that led to the riots of 2001, Britain should now be asking itself what it can do about a frustrated consumerism based on social inequality.

Mikaël Garnier-Lavalley argues that conditions in the major French and English cities are more similar than we might think (or than most French people would like to think). On both sides of the Channel, he says, "generational and geographical inequality grows as the welfare state recedes and ultraliberalism advances". And that's an analysis echoed by the specialist in English history Olivier Esteves. In both countries, deepening inequality threatens to make urban violence of the kind seen earlier this month in London and in Paris in 2005 "both ineluctable and cyclical".

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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I believe only Yvette Cooper has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy Corbyn

All the recent polling suggests Andy Burnham is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy Corbyn, says Diana Johnson MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP on the New Statesman website today says he is giving his second preference to Andy Burnham as he thinks that Andy has the best chance of beating Jeremy.

This is on the basis that if Yvette goes out first all her second preferences will swing behind Andy, whereas if Andy goes out first then his second preferences, due to the broad alliance he has created behind his campaign, will all or largely switch to the other male candidate, Jeremy.

Let's take a deep breath and try and think through what will be the effect of preferential voting in the Labour leadership.

First of all, it is very difficult to know how second preferences will switch. From my telephone canvassing there is some rather interesting voting going on, but I don't accept that Tom’s analysis is correct. I have certainly picked up growing support for Yvette in recent weeks.

In fact you can argue the reverse of Tom’s analysis is true – Andy has moved further away from the centre and, as a result, his pitch to those like Tom who are supporting Liz first is now narrower. As a result, Yvette is more likely to pick up those second preferences.

Stats from the Yvette For Labour team show Yvette picking up the majority of second preferences from all candidates – from the Progress wing supporting Liz to the softer left fans of Jeremy – and Andy's supporters too. Their figures show many undecideds opting for Yvette as their first preference, as well as others choosing to switch their first preference to Yvette from one of the other candidates. It's for this reason I still believe only Yvette has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy and then to go on to win in 2020.

It's interesting that Andy has not been willing to make it clear that second preferences should go to Yvette or Liz. Yvette has been very clear that she would encourage second preferences to be for Andy or Liz.

Having watched Andy on Sky's Murnaghan show this morning, he categorically states that Labour will not get beyond first base with the electorate at a general election if we are not economically credible and that fundamentally Jeremy's economic plans do not add up. So, I am unsure why Andy is so unwilling to be clear on second preferences.

All the recent polling suggests Andy is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy. He trails fourth in London – where a huge proportion of our electorate is based.

So I would urge Tom to reflect more widely on who is best placed to provide the strongest opposition to the Tories, appeal to the widest group of voters and reach out to the communities we need to win back. I believe that this has to be Yvette.

The Newsnight focus group a few days ago showed that Yvette is best placed to win back those former Labour voters we will need in 2020.

Labour will pay a massive price if we ignore this.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North.