We need a public inquiry and a national conversation….
Ed Miliband is quite right to call for a public inquiry into the recent riots. He is also quite right to defy the government and inisist he will set-up his own, if they will not. Furthermore, it is welcome he wishes input from the communities themselves. In making this call, he is implicitly and correctly challenging the notion that ‘sheer criminality’ was the sole cause of the riots. We should welcome this recognition and engage with it; we don’t have to take a moralistic stance, to swallow fully the ‘responsibility riff’, to support this. We should say this inquiry should be part of a much broader national conversation and make the case for our politics within that framework.
We should also use this opportunity to burst the bubble of those who claim there is no political content to the last few days. This is quite clearly not the case, as this video here illustrates, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence alongside the video, some of those rioting had a quite conscious political agenda. It is not that these events are not political – it’s the fact that our rulers don’t want to talk about the politics involved. In doing so, they are using the same tin ear, that led to the riots in the first place, to protect their own interests.
Even commentators on the right are now acknowledging, in whatever roundabout and reactionary way they do it, there were more profound causes than simple ‘criminality’. Of course, we don’t agree with everything they say and in the case of Peter Oborne we must say clearly he is boiling things too much down to the individual and not taking a serious look at societies structure, as well as proposing some reactionary solutions. However, we should welcome what is positive while of course, criticising the negative. This is the way a meaningful discourse takes place; not by dismissing the opposition out of hand and chucking the baby out with the proverbial bath water. In that vein, although I don’t agree with everything he says, Ed Miliband is right to take the substantive stand he has; let’s hope it gains resonance in the wider country because if it does, it will open up a wider debate, within which we can contribute too and fight for our politics within.