Labour's response to the riots has to be conservative and radical

The party must defend the integrity of family life and those institutions that promote the common go

Listen to the silence. The enormity of what happened across England last week has been slowly buried under acres of commentary and analysis of why it happened. But what did happen? What happened was the slow simmering, everyday brutality of life on the streets of our cities and large towns exploding and bringing us to the edge of the complete breakdown of civil order. As mobs steamed their way up high streets smashing and looting they gave clarity to the fear, casual violence and nihilism that has become a part of the fabric of our everyday life. This is England. Look at the destruction, feel the fear; this is what we have made of our country. The problem belongs to all of us, and no amount of retributive justice will solve it.

England has a long history of rioting during periods of economic distress. The events have elements in common with this history and others unique to modern consumer society. They would include: adolescent, exhilarating excitement; rage against the police; the summer holidays; the historical social predicament of unoccupied young men; an over-inflated sense of entitlement to have what one wants; parts of a younger generation detached from the moral norms and obligations of adult society; the experience of poverty, despair and hopelessness; and a deep sense of "I don't care". Above all the events combined the nihilism of the dispossessed and the narcissism of the consumer. Why have you done this? "Because we can".

Society in the big cities lacks neighbourly solidarity and adults are frightened of the young. Fear of crime is fear of youth. Watch Jo Frost on TV, a lot of parents are anxious about saying "no" to their own children. Market choice targeted at children is a direct challenge to the kinds of parental intuition and authority that creates the emotional boundaries in which children flourish. Adult society has abandoned young people in areas of our cities to a street culture of casual mugging, knives and at the extreme, guns. It has abandoned a small minority to an anomic existence of hopeless parenting, no jobs or rubbish jobs.

A small number are disconnected from family, social norms and adult authority. They are the dangerous ones. They have their own gang culture for mutual aid and their chief value is money. They will use violence to avoid the mortification of shame. The dangers of this nihilistic gang culture have been repeatedly voiced, particularly by black community workers, but they have been ignored by wider society.

The influence of this small core ripples out to terrorise and draw in a wider circle of young people in deprived areas who themselves hover between the social abyss and some sort of decent life. And the ripples extend further outward to other young people who are attracted to the glamour and excitement of the gangsta life. These concentric circles of fear and seduction, uninterrupted by adult and governmental authority, found a common activity and were a core around which swirled larger numbers of voyeurs and thrill seekers.

And as communities reeled under the impact of the violence they were impotent to respond. The police do not have the integration into localcommunities to ensure order. They are a state imposed force. Absolutely necessary yes, but without connections to forms of organised community authority, limited in what they can achieve. Where was the community out on the streets after night fall? Where were the civic leaders rallying the citizenship to bring their children and young people to order? Only in ethnic groups where there were strong family ties and kinship systems and often faith based networks did order prevail - amongst Muslims in Birmingham, the Hassidic Jewish community in Stamford Hill, the Turkish and Kurdish communities in east London. They came out onto the streets and ensured peace and safety.

And this brings us to the lamentable failure of our political class which is disconnected from the life of the people. The Tories were out of their depth. Cameron and Johnson are both revealed in all their mediocrity. They know nothing about the society they live in. Cameron's pro-social politics lie in tatters as he defends the neo-liberal status quo with bigger, more aggressive state intervention. The people who have talked the most sense are the community workers who work the street and their message is not one that Labour has always wanted to hear - it is about the breakdown of family life, the loss of social structures of authority, the absence of boundaries and discipline. It is a conservative message, but it is not a Tory one. It is half the issue in hand. The other half is the way the social and economic relations of capitalism, if left unchecked, destroys traditions and social authority and produces consumer narcissism and nihilistic cultures of violence. It is about the crushing effect of poverty and parents who have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet with no time for the children and no childcare. And as neuroscience is proving, it is about the emotional destruction of people's lives caused by childhood abuse, trauma and deprivation.

Labour has to own the conservative part of the story. The right cannot be allowed to bury the causes by framing the events as simply about moral decline and law and order. Labour has to be conservative in its defence of relational life, in its belief in the integrity of family life and in institutions that promote the common good. It must be for reciprocity - do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself. It has to be willing to make judgements about people's behaviour. And it has to be radical as well as conservative. This means a longer term strategy to end the neo-liberal hegemony and create an ethical economy whose primary purpose is jobs and a common prosperity. Decent jobs on a living wage up and down the country to give people hope and to rebuild our society. It means building community organisation and deepening and expanding democracy and so enabling people to find their voice and take power and responsibility,including the disaffected. They too must sit at the common table.

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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.