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12 August 2011

The riots: who’s to blame?

Rap music, Tony Blair and Grand Theft Auto, according to some.

By George Eaton

After initially dismissing the riots as “criminality, pure and simple”, David Cameron is now prepared to reflect on what he referred to as the “deeper problems”. As he begins this analytical journey, we at The Staggers thought it might be helpful to list those the nation’s finest scribes have deemed responsible.

Rap music

The Daily Mirror’s Paul Routledge identified rap music as the primary culprit. “I blame the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority,” he wrote.

In a statement, David Cameron said: “We have to await the conclusion of the police investigation. But Snoop Dogg has some serious questions to answer.”

Tony Blair

The Daily Telegraph’s David Hughes suggested that Tony Blair’s liberal stance on crime was to blame for mass looting. He wrote: “Where did all this start? Try asking Tony Blair. A year before he became Prime Minister he delivered a speech on law and order that came close to condoning shop theft. Blair said that “hard-pressed” single mothers or pensioners pocketing “treats” were not a serious concern. He told a meeting of retailers that the real threat came from organised gangs.”

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The phone hacking scandal

The Daily Mail’s James Slack blamed the departure of former Met commissioner Paul Stephenson over the phone hacking scandal.

He wrote: “While London was ablaze and looters raged through the streets with impunity, Sir Paul Stephenson – the police officer best equipped to deal with this carnage – was sitting at home, his vast experience going unforgivably to waste.

Caught in the grip of the political class’s lust for media blood, former Commissioner Sir Paul – acknowledged by all in the police service as a ‘good copper’ with an iron will – was driven from office over a link to the phone-hacking scandal.”

Grand Theft Auto

An unnamed police officer, speaking to the Evening Standard, blamed the riots on the video game Grand Theft Auto. He told the paper: “These are bad people who did this. Kids out of control. When I was young it was all Pacman and board games. Now they’re playing Grand Theft Auto and want to live it for themselves.”

Wayne Rooney

Former Telegraph editor Max Hastings blamed the poor example set by the Manchester United player. Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: “How do you inculcate values in a child whose only role model is footballer Wayne Rooney — a man who is bereft of the most meagre human graces?”

Of the rioters themselves (who he referred to as “wild beasts”), Hastings wrote: “Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked a Norwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlike the bear, no one even shot them for it.”

P.S. For the New Statesman’s view on who (and what) was to blame for the riots, read this week’s leader: It is too simplistic to blame the coalition’s cuts for these riots.