UK Riots: Poor old Ed Miliband fluffs it again as public shows no sympathy for the Chavs

The BBC/Guardian's new hero Owen Jones is as confused as Ed Miliband on the causes of the riots.

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Miliband's 'good-ish' couple of weeks with Murdoch are fading fast.
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Harry Cole
On 18 August 2011 12:25

This morning I had the pleasure of debating the latest darling of the left-wing media elite -- Owen Jones, the author of the much hyped Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.

For someone with a book about how nasty Tories beat down the workers, the riots have been a PR gift.

While there is no denying that Jones is a competent media performer, as far as I can see what he effectively says can basically be summarised as follows: “Leave the looters alone. They’re poor. Therefore they’ve suffered enough”. The BBC loves him.

Owen says that only the poor will be punished for the actions of the looters. He says it’s unfair to take away benefits for violent thugs, yet he doesn’t really have an answer to why those who fund the existence of those less well-off should turn a blind eye when those who rely on society’s hand-outs throw that gift back in their taxpaying faces?

If harsh sentence are not given out then what is to stop this happening again? The establishment may be closing ranks and coming down extremely heavily on those that took part in the looting, but can anyone really be surprised?

For a nation that considers itself to be a world leader, the images of burning cars and smashed up shops are a huge embarrassment. Gaddafi, for one, is laughing at us.

Owen also claims that if you take away the benefits of looters then they are being punished twice. This, again, is total nonsense. Find me an employer that will keep someone in work after their violent rampages and subsequent prison sentences.

You would lose your job for rioting, so why shouldn’t you lose your substitute for a job (ie welfare) now that you clearly no longer deserve it?

But I can hardly have a go at Owen for using the opportunity for a bit of self-promotion out of these riots when he has clearly taken a leaf from the Cameron, Clegg and Miliband playbook.

All of them have seen the torched buildings and broken glass on Britain’s high-streets to further their own agendas: The Big Society and Broken Britain for Dave; and pure and simple survival for Clegg and that other chap, Miliband. Who? Oh yes: the Leader of the Opposition.

David Cameron took to the front-line of the riots earlier in the week, bravely travelling to a “yoof” centre in his plush Oxfordshire constituency. Wading through the torched out buildings and broken glass of Witney town centre, he chose a cringe-worthy “down with da kids” graffiti back drop.

However, what he said was powerful and damning. You could almost hear the fingernails scratching down the computer monitors over at the Guardian.

It is true that the “social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face”. It’s crises like this -- something out of Cameron’s control, unlike the phone hacking scandal which was partly of his own making -- that could yet be central to the Prime Minister’s legacy.

Reigniting his “Broken Britain” theme from his days in opposition, he finally began to speak the unspeakable.

For years the leftist dominance of the media, helped greatly by the likes of Harriet Harman and the Fabians, have rendered it virtually impossible to discuss taboo subjects like absentee fathers, benefit-culture-dependence, and the fact that vast swaths of this nation’s youth are completely without discipline, be it in the classroom or in their own homes.

With declarations flying that the looters will lose their benefits, social housing and feel the full force of the law, a new chapter of reality has been opened. About time too.

To a government, a riot is about as welcome as a bout of dysentery. But if the recovery period can lead to a newfound interest in looking after oneself, it’s possible to come out of it stronger than before.

We have a chance now for a proper conversation to readdress what is wrong in our society.

Though there is no excuse for the scenes we saw last week across the country, we need to work out why nobody has explained this to those that took part. Are they genuinely sorry? Or are they just sorry that they got caught?

Cameron's words hit the spot on Monday, and the speed at which nearly a quarter of a million people have signed the e-petition demanding that benefits be stripped from the looters shows he has the weight of public opinion on his side.

However, words will not be enough, the proof will be in the pudding: the policy.

Cameron will come up against it from the Guardian, the BBC and the simple-minded “chattering classes” who continually hark back to the days when we just didn't talk about the underlying problems in society for fear of offending “the underclass” or, worse, exposing decades of failed policy largely inaugurated by Leftists.

And it’s not as if he’s going to get much help from the other parties.

Besides the obvious open goal of the phone hacking scandal, where Miliband managed only a moderately effective job anyway (though it was brilliant by his own lamentable standards of course), almost every serious decision affecting the country has been a fight between the two political parties that really count in this country today -- The Liberal Democrats and Tories.

Through health reform, pension reform, school reform and the cuts, these two uncomfortable bunk buddies have fought and discussed the issues within government, rendering Miliband’s Labour irrelevant.

In the wake of the riots, It looked like we were going to get a classic Blues vs. Reds battle, with Miliband learning from his "success" in demanding a phone hacking inquiry, by repeating the exact same tactic this time around. Again though, Miliband has been in retreat.

Firstly he was humiliated by his deputy leader going violently off message on Newsnight by linking government cuts to the riots, something Labour apparatchiks were immediately dispatched to row back from.

Secondly, Labour were for the last six months trying to frame the coalition as soft on crime after Ken Clarke's sentencing debacle. For them to start criticising the tough stance handed to the looters would undo all of that work at a stroke.

Labour have been at their best this week when they’ve said little at all. But with their party conference on the horizon and Miliband's good-ish couple of weeks with Murdoch fading fast, the questions over Miliband’s leadership are sure to resurface.

As for the Lib-Dems, just when Cameron looked as though he was on the front foot again, who pops up but little Nick Clegg? With his own grassroots to worry about, Clegg climbed on to the fence (in classic Lib-Dem style) and wrung his hands about the sentences.

Fortunately, it seems nobody was listening.

Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator. He tweets at @MrHarryColeand is the News Editor for the Guido Fawkes blog

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