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18 August 2011

The New York Times attacks Cameron’s riots response

Cameron's measures risk "long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact".

By George Eaton

Today’s New York Times features a thunderous editorial attacking David Cameron’s response to the riots. You can read the paper’s leader in full here but I’ve pulled out some of the most notable passages below.

On Cameron’s double standards:

Mr. Cameron, a product of Britain’s upper classes and schools, has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subcultures.

Would he find similar blame — this time in the culture of the well housed and well off — for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?

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On rioters’ benefits and social networks:

He talks about cutting off government benefits even to minor offenders and evicting them — and, in a repellent form of collective punishment, perhaps their families, too — from the publicly supported housing in which one of every six Britons lives.

He has also called for blocking access to social networks like Twitter during future outbreaks. And he has cheered on the excessive sentences some judges have been handing out for even minor offenses.

On Cameron’s populism:

Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact.

The Grey Lady also criticises the coalition’s economic strategy, warning that the government’s “wrongheaded austertity policies” have hit the poorest hardest. What Britain’s stagnant economy needs, the NYT argues, is “short-term stimulus”, not more budget cutting.

It concludes: “Fair play is one traditional British value we have always admired. And one we fear is increasingly at risk.”