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Sunday, 14 August 2011

There is no split on riot response

Why does everything have to be 'a row'? Newspapers are obsessed with reporting any signs of debate as signs of division. My party's Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes, has written a very good Observer article in which he utters not a word of direct criticism of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government and in which he says much that others (of all parties and of none) have been saying all week, as well as offering much that is original. He writes: "I said publicly that the police should be allowed to use water cannon and curfews. Liberal Democrats feel as strongly as anyone that we cannot have a free and liberal society when people are too scared to walk the streets." Much of what he writes about welfare reform could have been written by Iain Duncan Smith. And yet this is reported by a split-hungry media as a "Coalition row". If there is any division it has David Cameron and Simon Hughes (with their belief in a "responsible society"), on one side and various less cerebral people on the other. 

Also, hooray for Maureen West (whom I have never met) of Barnet Borough Watch (of which I have never heard) for her honesty in saying that we are "very lucky" that the rioting was not worse in Barnet. As she says, any rioting, looting or disorder is bad enough, but it has definitely been worse in other places and it's sensible to admit that, rather than engaging in the shroud-waving that might occasionally appeal to certain people in certain places. I note also what she has to say about Matthew Offord's holiday.

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