Searching for the cause of the riots is asking the wrong question

When events like last week’s riots and looting occur, we assume that something that was previously working must now be badly broken. What has changed in the last few years that has brought the rioters and looters onto the streets?

Government cuts? MPs expenses? Greedy bankers? Broken society?


Or perhaps there’s less need to panic and more need to take a measured view.

Might it be that this sort of trouble – relatively common in societies – is similar to earthquakes? Tiny earthquakes and tremors occur across the world most of the time and we barely notice. Every now and again a much bigger earthquake hits – causing major damage and disruption. Is that because something in the bowels of the earth fundamentally changed? No, it’s simply that the complex myriad of variables that decide when, where and how powerful an earthquake will be happen to come together (most things work this way).

The “some big change has caused this” theme is helped along by a strange collective amnesia about past events, even quite recent ones.

Have a glance through Wikipedia’s list of riots.

London, 2010. Luton, 2009. Manchester, 2008. Looting in Devon, 2007. Birmingham 2005. Bradford and Oldham 2001 – the list goes on and on, and we could follow it back over the centuries. Yes, 2011 saw more rioting and more looting, but do we really have the evidence that it’s down to some fundamental shift in society and not just a random peak – an unusually severe earthquake?

Our society has many problems – politicians disagree on what they are, their causes and solutions to some extent, but they certainly exist.

The risk of jumping to conclusions is that we start putting a lot of time, money and effort into fixing the “problems” that we divine to have caused these riots, though they might not actually be the issues most in need of fixing. We could spend billions chasing phantoms.

There are many things to be glad about in our modern lives.

We live in a society that’s healthier and wealthier than at any time in history (yes, there’s a small downward blip in wealth at the moment, but we’re still a long, long way ahead of previous generations). Crime has halved since 1995 and we’re living longer than ever before.

There are many people in our society who are – unjustly – poorer than they should be, leading more stressful and less happy lives than they could, but few in this country live in the absolute poverty that still afflicts millions of people around the globe.

No longer is it common to see families with ten people living in single a damp, squalid basement room with no windows, little furniture, an outside toilet shared between 30 or 40 households and so little money that clothes have to be pawned at the beginning of each week just to get the funds to put food on the table.

Plenty of people lived that way little more than a century ago in all our major cities.

Our task is to build on the successes of the last century, to acknowledge how far we’ve come as a society and to challenge ourselves to do even better.

There’s plenty of work still to be done. Poverty and unjust inequalities must be tackled, in all their forms. We’ve come a long way, but we can go further.

Last week’s riots and looting must be a catalyst that spurs our politicians and our society to take the next steps.

Fairly, firmly and justly punishing rioters and looters is essential, but if we spend the next year just searching for what caused a few thousand people (from the sixty million in the UK) to riot and loot, and then trying to fix that cause, we will have failed.

If we instead ask ourselves, with renewed vigour and purpose, how we can grasp the challenge to build a society that’s more free, more fair, more open, a society where no-one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity…then we have the chance to win.

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  • No, no no, the riots were caused by political correctness, the Human Rights Act, Hip hop, health and safety legislation (not sure about this one but David C senses a connection), children not being beaten enough, gay marriage and the adoption of Jamaican patois amongst da yoof.

    Or at least that’s what the other half of the coalition is telling us.

  • Dave Orbison 15th Aug '11 - 6:17pm

    To my mind the LibDems seemed to have made reasonable, fair and justifiable criticisms of the previous Labour Govt increasing authoritarianism. Partly why I voted for them. I tried to comfort myself, post collation, that the touted justification that the Right wing agenda would be softened and diluted would work out in practice. That on Civil Liberties they would in some sense be more progressive than Labour.

    What a difference a year makes? This Government economically and in terms of social policy makes Thatcher look a soft touch. When precisely are the LibDems going to realise that they have made a monumental mistake.

    Do I feel angry and depressed about the riots? Of course, it was sickening and wholly unacceptable and No, I don’t have a ready solution.

    But I listened to Cameron today and cringed. In his speech, all the ‘Daily Mail’ phrases were there – the one parent families, the breakdown of family values, this Human Rights ‘nonsense’, red tape, ‘Health and Safety gone mad’ even a flirt with National Service but just a teaser you understand.

    Yes, there’s nothing like a riot for authoritarianism to raise its ugly head and Cameron showed all the signs of someone who would relish the opportunity of justifying a further lurch to the Right. This, the guy who thinks it is OK to smash things up as a youth as long as you can throw money at buying yourself out of from any consequence. The same guy who thinks second chances are OK is you are one Andy Coulson but wants the fist of justice to smash others should they transgress in some way.

    And where are the LibDems on this? On holiday it seems.

    Please don’t tell me are going to get yet another U-turn. Are we soon to see Danny Alexander calling for National Service, for more welfare cuts, enforced destitution and homelessness as THE solution?

    Milliband is surely right. This is a very complex issue and we need a proper considered Public Inquiry. If is was OK for the LibDems to form a coalition with the Tories a year ago for the so-called ‘National Good’ it shouldn’t be too much to step back from the Coalition and ask which is the better approach. Tories – Let ‘em have it or Labour’s – Let’s pause and think about all of this.

    Of course any inquiry should consider ALL issues – there should be no ‘No-go’ areas that would shackle the effectiveness of any thought through set of policies not least our hopeless and failing approach to drugs control.

    Pause for thought isn’t code for ‘being soft’ or ‘doing nothing’. But bashing the young when only 1 in 5 of rioters were under 18; highlighting the poor or single-parent families when very many poor and single-parents do a fantastic job, are honest, moral and have values we would wish for all is a simplistic, headline grabbing drivel. This from a politician who has no experience or grasp of reality at the sharp end – come on LibDems…. Step forward.

  • All I know is that we should congratulate our expenses fiddling MPs, bent coppers, and hacking press for standing firm on the moral decline of young people.
    Makes me proud it does! Gawd bless ’em all !!

  • “No longer is it common to see families with ten people living in single a damp, squalid basement room with no windows, little furniture, an outside toilet shared between 30 or 40 households and so little money that clothes have to be pawned at the beginning of each week just to get the funds to put food on the table.

    Plenty of people lived that way little more than a century ago in all our major cities.”

    But not because the country is any more egalitarian than it was then. It is just that the country as a whole is richer. It is not obvious that if the country’s politicians had spent the intervening century twiddling their thumbs, the poor would be any poorer than they are now.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “Which “expenses fiddling MPs” are you referring to?

    Who are the “bent coppers” who have been making moral pronouncements?”

    Have you been out of the country for the last few years?

  • @Simon Shaw
    “Does it make me politically incorrect to say that I rather agree with him?”

    If it does I feel you would be in the majority of the Country at this point. Raising children with a strong moral and ethical compass is not a Tory only viewpoint. Surely a functioning liberal democracy requires us to teach our children to understand and cherish their freedoms and respect those of others.

    I worry though that this will end in another Tory pledge to support marriage through taxes and forget that unmarried couples and single parents can provide the same type of strong family and impart on their children the same base values as a traditional married couple.

  • I posted on another thread, but also valid here, that Julian Huppert was on Radio 5 talking lots of sense and putting some clear water between the Lib Dem and Tory / Labour viewpoints. Let’s have more of this….

  • Liberal Neil 15th Aug '11 - 9:13pm

    I think it is fair to point out that descriptions such as outright greed’, ‘unjustified sense of entitlement’ and ‘living the life of riley funded by law-abiding taxpayers’ can be applied equally well to many MPs and other members of the elite as to many of those involved in last week’s looting.

    So whilst there is not a direct equivalence, it is true to say that many MPs, police officers and journalists are on weak ground when criticising the looters.

    On Iain’s overall point I think he is right. In general terms we are wealthier and healthier than any previous generation and if more of us appreciated that a bit more often, rather than chasing the trendiest trainers or funding second homes five miles form our first home, the country would be better for it.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “Glenn was referring to what has happened in the 10 days, not what happened in “the last few years”.

    Do I assume you have no idea who he was referring to?”

    So, you think that the events of the last ten days were completely spontaneous and not related to anything that has happened over the last ten years?

    This post by benwalker on CiF gives some examples for you:

    MP Gerald Kaufman: ‘I condemn the naked greed of these criminals and their taking advantage of their pampered and privileged opportunities ..’
    — £43,564 expenses including four grapefruit bowls at £540

    MP John Healey: ‘We should understand a little less and condemn a little more,Mr Speaker; only tough action against these feral youths will …’
    — £84,562 expenses including £6,194 for renovating his kitchen

    MP David Wilshire: ‘My honourable friend has hit the nail on the head. This is not about ideology, it’s sheer naked greed…’
    — £160,532 expenses including £100k on a flat 15 miles from main home

    Speaker: ‘Order! Order! Members must set an example to young people! ‘
    — £146,780 expenses

  • It is time this country woke up and started living in the real world.

    Of course MP’s expenses, Bankers Bonuses, corruption in the police and the media, Tax avoidance, and the cuts, all play their part in our broken society.

    The government has become so detached from those who live in the real world it is crazy, and that goes for ALL political parties, not just the present condemn coalition.

    I do not understand what people think would happen when those less unfortunate than others are constantly belittled and demonized.
    When politicians go around trumpeting that they stand for “alarm clock” Britain and abandons anyone else who does not conform to their Ideology, regardless of whether they are fully aware of their personal circumstances or not. It stands to reason that “some” people are going to feel ostracized.

    Even the most placid dog will eventually bite if you constantly beat it with a stick.

    Some of the proposals that are coming from the government at the moment are down right ridiculous.

    David Cameron saying he supports the idea of families being evicted from their council homes if 1 member of the family is found guilty to have taken part in the disorder. And yet a convicted Pedophile who comes out of prison after serving their sentence is given a council home. What kind of message and equality is that saying to society.

    Ian Duncan Smith, using this as yet another excuse to cut the welfare bill and remove peoples benefits, What on earth would that achieve apart of driving people towards more poverty and crime.
    I do not think anybody thinks for one moment that those people who committed the worse of offences should not be punished for their crimes, But that is what the Courts are for, for dealing out sentences, fines, costs and compensation. It should not be for the government to take a further lurch towards the right and introduce new policies that allow the DWP to remove benefits.

    The government keeps trotting out the line “were all in this together” but down on the ground, it does not feel like that at all.
    On the ground. The line, “where all in this together” means, Politicians, Bankers, Big Business and the elite are all in this together to screw the rest of society for all they can get out of them.

    We can not mend broken Britain whilst MP’s have been allowed to claim “Millions” of pounds in lets face it, Ludicrous expenses and some have engaged in damn right criminality in those claims and yet they have been able to walk away pretty much unscathed, Even the very few that where hauled before the courts for stealing ” thousands of Pounds” only served a pitiful sentence in an open prison, and here we are sentencing youths to 10 weeks in custody for nicking a bottle of wine.

    As the months go by, this government is becoming more and more detached from the real world and “society” as a whole. If the government stays on this trajectory, it can only lead to one place, Chaos and Destruction.

    The Liberal Democrats always said they entered government in the counties best interest and they would be an active force to temper the most right winged Tory ideologies. I think now is the right the time to start showing the country they meant what they said for once

  • I was making a flippant remark about political, police and press scandals that have been well documented in recently. .I believe that every MP who fiddled their expenses is a crook., that police officers that accepted bribes from the press are crooks and that along with hacking the phones of murdered school children they possibly demonstrate lower moral standards amongst the tiny proportion of people in those professions than the actions of a few rioters says about the general moral state of the population of the country as a whole.. . I suspect that if you worked it out as a percentage, the maths would too.

  • my thought on the riots are that they were caused by a mixture of things that will never be fully understood, but in London seemed to be the result poor community relations and the over use of stop and search on young black men. . The rest, I don’t know. The last similar riots were in the first couple of years of a Conservative Government maybe it’s because as a party they seem keen on creating divisions. Having said that , I have a lot of time for Davis Davies and think he should be in charge of any enquiry.

  • Richard Hill 15th Aug '11 - 11:24pm

    I agree. Ithink the problem has always been there and always will. There will always be reasonable people that work hard and look after what they have ( The Majority ). There is always the odd bad apple in the barrel. And people that think they are intitled to it without paying their dues. the bully boys that think they can just take what they want. A lot of these fancy schemes with dubious reasons are often just playing into their hands. We are already chasing to many phantoms. We have one of the best police forces in the world but when they are under resorced and tired they, like anybody, find it harder to make the correct decisions. Some of the wasted money and time would be better spent helping the police do what most people want them to do.

  • Cameron’s response has been largely knee-jerk. It might be something he’ll come to regret later, just as, for example, some of the looters who got drawn might have second thoughts when they have cause to reflect.

    I don’t see an immediate need for answers. However, the public (or large parts of it) is to blame as much as Cameron, because of the perceieved need for something to done NOW (whether or not the diagnosis or treatment is correct). Compare and contrast this with how those same members of the public expect to be dealt with by their GP: thorough examination, tests undertaken if necessary, and cause of treament prescribed.

    I suggest a calm, rational investigation is needed into the riots. This should involve experts in the area, eg academic criminologists, and rigorous statistical analysis etc. I very much doubt we’ll get this, of course, though Ed Milliband’s proposed inquiry might go some way. It probably won’t happen given (many of) the public won’t to see action now and possess neither the intelligence, attention span, or patience to be recognise it as the only sensible way forward.

    Hope this makes some sense – it’s late at night!

  • Cameron’s response has been largely knee-jerk. It might be something he’ll come to regret later, just as, for example, some of the looters who got drawn might have second thoughts when they have cause to reflect.

    I don’t see an immediate need for answers. However, the public (or large parts of it) is to blame as much as Cameron, because of the perceieved need for something to done NOW (whether or not the diagnosis or treatment is correct). Compare and contrast this with how those same members of the public expect to be dealt with by their GP: thorough examination, tests undertaken if necessary, and cause of treament prescribed.

    I suggest a calm, rational investigation is needed into the riots. This should involve experts in the area, eg academic criminologists, and rigorous statistical analysis etc. I very much doubt we’ll get this, of course, though Ed Milliband’s proposed inquiry might go some way. It probably won’t happen given (many of) the public won’t to see action now and possess neither the intelligence, attention span, or patience to be recognise it as the only sensible way forward.

    Hope this makes some sense – it’s late at night!

  • Absent fathers? What about those that send their kids to boarding school??

  • @SImon Shaw, do you ever actually argue policy and engage in meaningful debate? I ask because you seem very fond of nitpicking certain details from peoples’ posts, in several different threads, instead of arguing with the point the person is trying to make. You also claim this website and its slogan, “our place to talk”, to be members-only in meaning and accuse people of not being Liberal Democrats or LD supporters, as if it is impossible for those of us who voted LibDem ever since 2001 to now be appalled at the direction the party is taking? And that we should have no say?

    You’re not in opposition any longer so quit acting like it. The Liberal Democrats are now a “party of government”. Act like it by engaging with the public here; you need voters more than you need members and dodging genuine attempts at discussion by people who still hold pre-Coalition beliefs is petty. People have a right to be angry. As a disabled person I do genuinely feel as if this government hates me and people like me. The disgusting use of words like “scroungers”, “workshy”, to describe the actual disabled, making us scapegoats, and the way LibDems only recently started challenging this kind of talk, after 15 months of ignoring it, was just one example where you were shooting yourself in the foot by alienating vulnerable people. It seemed it took Liberal Youth to actually take action and make sure the leadership is held to account on this issue.

    @Matt above is saying exactly how I feel and a very large percentage of the UK feel as well. Why do so many LibDems seem to want to ignore the effects their policies are now having on society? Why are people who are very worried about where the country is headed, such as these knee jerk responses, so often belittled when we pour out our anger and even dare to suggest that MPs, bankers, corrupt police, a corrupt press/media and greedy corporations are just as harmful, if not more so, to society at large than the looters? I dare say failure of the banks, which led to the taxpayer bailing them out, a deep recession and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs was far more detrimental to society than what these looters have just done. Yet, surprisingly, not one banker has been arrested. No charges. Instead, most of them got larger bonuses. And now those same taxpayers get to pay again with cuts while the political, media and banking class continue to rake in the money and jobs for the boys.

    You might like to ignore us and argue tiny details instead of the point the poster is making. This site might decide to moderate this post of mine, as if does often. That’s fine. But it’s not going to win the LibDems any more new or returning members, let alone votes.

  • Everyone who thinks, like our Prime Minister, that our society is newly ‘broken’ and ‘sick’, would benefit from learning a little history (Michael Gove keeps preaching about how we should appreciate our heritage after all).
    , for example, is a brief run-through of some of the more noteworthy looting and assorted criminality that occurred during the Blitz. At least none of the people who tragically lost their lives last week had their fingers posthumously chopped off to get at their rings. And however mindlessly authoritarian the response has been so far, at least we haven’t had national newspapers calling for looters to be hanged like the Daily Mirror did in 1940. I guess that’s progress.

    As it happens, I agree that our society is broken, and that a small number of people in our society are sick (although by that I mean they could do with some psychological help rather than hard labour). But as Iain points out, our society is less broken and sick than it used to be. Of course there’s masses more work to be done. As long as there are people excluded by society there will be those who turn to crime as a profession. But progress won’t be found in some wistfully nostalgic longing for a non-existent “peaceful past”.

    Many people will probably find comfort in the convenient “blame the parents” narrative, but for anyone interested in a more well-informed viewpoint of the reasons why rioting and looting suddenly flared this month, have a look at this video – shot at the end of July.

  • jenny barnes 16th Aug '11 - 8:40am

    Is N.Clegg MP still on holiday? Or are we going to hear what his take is on all this? After all, we have heard what Milliband and Cameron think….Roughly “enquiry needed” and “lock em up, they’re criminals”.
    Where are the LibDems in all this?

  • @jenny barnes
    Clegg is taking a press conference as I type this.

  • Theresa May is proposing ever more authoritarian measures and there is nothing but silence from Lib Dem Ministers, apart from Nick Clegg who is pushing the line that cutting essential services won’t mean more social unrest.

    Is this what you went into government for? Discredited authoritarian right wing solution.

  • Stuart Mitchell 16th Aug '11 - 12:05pm

    “Theresa May is proposing ever more authoritarian measures”

    Hate to say I told you so (what am I talking about, I quite like saying that actually), but from day 1 of the coalition I’ve been telling you guys that you would come to regret your adoption of May as civil liberties poster girl.

    Quite why Lib Dems ever thought somebody who opposed the repeal of section 28 was deserving of the tag “liberal” is utterly baffling.

  • From the Guardian:
    Asked about Duncan Smith’s comments yesterday, Clegg said: “We are going to take our time to look at this, but of course you need to be proportional, of course you need to be careful, of course you don’t want to create unintended consequences where actually the taxpayer ends up giving more, or we create more social problems or problems of law and order. But the principles are clear; there is conditionality in our benefits system, we can’t just expect a blank cheque whatever you do, there are consequences when that happens. That’s built into the system already and we’re now going to take our time to be able to reflect carefully on how to build on that.”

    So, Clegg believes that extra-judicial punishment is acceptable and that some people should be treated differently by the criminal justice system than others.

  • Steve,

    So, Clegg believes that extra-judicial punishment is acceptable and that some people should be treated differently by the criminal justice system than others.

    We already knew this, see David Laws. Embezzles £40,000 from the tax payer. Is suspended from parliament for a week and then his return to Cabinet is discussed.

    How does this compare to people who falsely claim Housing Benefit or other benefits?

  • Stuart Mitchell 16th Aug '11 - 3:11pm

    “And politicians are the main profession who should stop blaming others and start behaving responsibly by setting a higher example.”

    I agree, and Lib Dems are the politicians best placed to make amends.

    If every Lib Dem who voted in favour of £9,000 tuition fees were to say to young people: “I am sorry for breaking my pledge; I realise it was wrong and I promise to put it right”, then this would do more than any other possible action to restore young people’s faith in politics and in the idea of a society of opportunity for all.

  • Stuart Mitchell 16th Aug '11 - 9:29pm

    Oranjepan: “I don’t agree that the LibDem pledge on tuition fees could have been sustained without a LibDem majority.”

    I don’t accept that at all. The pledges were made individually; 21 Lib Dem MPs managed to keep their pledge so the other 36 have no excuse. Even six Tories voted against the fees.

    I don’t disagree with the rest of what you wrote.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Aug '11 - 9:32am

    Oranjepan: While you talk a lot of sense you also make several statements which are preposterous.

    Nobody at the NUS “put a gun” to Lib Dem MP’s heads, in fact it had been Lib Dem policy to scrap fees altogether for some time before the election. Nobody forced them to do it.

    As for your suggestion that “the people responsible for proposing that pledge in that form [i.e. the NUS] should have been arrested and charged with incitement after the protests turned ugly”, I think it’s safe to say you are the only person on the planet who reads the situation that way.

  • If you court votes on the abolition of tuition fees, campaign heavily in areas with large numbers of students highlighting it as a major policy and are filmed signing and waving the pledges around, then really you can’t drop the policy in government without it causing problems. Voters are not party members and owe no political party loyalty’ Politicians are elected to represent their voters and should not be supported no-matter-what, like a football team.
    The fact is that the Lib Dem leadership behaved disgracefully over tuition fees and should have at worst abstained on the vote and in truth voted it down. In political terms it was one of the most short sighted and opportunistic u turns I’ve ever witnessed and has seriously damaged the Lib Dem’s..

  • Simon
    They signed the tuition fee pledge, made it part of their policy, campaigned on it and, presumably, thought it was a good idea.! What you’re talking about is a retrospective value judgement.. Politically signing the pledge was possibly a mistake. but equally possibly a brave stand on an issue they believed in.. But I’ve seen the footage and, yup, it’s them alright and that part of it is a fact, not a retrospective lament..

  • Simon Shaw

    The fact that the new tuition fees system is a considerable improvement on the old has been lost sight of in the (understandable) furore over “breaking the Pledge”.


    Could you point to independent experts who have come to this conclusion following the latest revision to the fees proposal?

  • Fairer!
    I believe the expression is ‘Rolling on the Floor Laughing’

    How is tripling fees fairer?

    The coalition government explicitly rejected the idea of a progressive (in-line with Lib Dem policy) graduate tax in favour of tuition fees (regressive) as they were concerned that high earning graduates would leave the country. Instead, fiscally regressive fees will hit the majority of graduates (on middle incomes) the hardest. The coalition was therefore less concerned about the larger number of middle-income earning graduates that will leave the country (and the larger future fiscal deficit that will result) as a result of fees remaining (and being tripled) rather than being replaced with a graduate tax or increased contributions from general taxation.

  • @Iain

    I understand both the NUS proposals and the new fees system very well.

    Fees are not similar to a graduate tax. The NUS proposal was for a progressive graduate tax – i.e. the proportion of income contributed towards paying the fees increases with income. With tuition fees (above middle incomes) both the total amount paid and the proportion of gross lifetime earnings decreases with increasing earnings. Tuition fees are fiscally regressive – the opposite of Lib Dem policy and the NUS proposals.

    “but let’s at least be clear and honest about what the new fees will mean.”

    That statement implies I am being dishonest and I take exception to it (especially when the evidence is to the contrary)

    ” it might be worth you finding out a little more about the new tuition ”

    That statement implies I am being ignorant and I take eception to it (again when the evidence is to the contrary).

  • @Iain

    The table in point number 17. in the link you provided confirms that I am correct.

  • Here’s another link confirming the 20 years repayment for the NUS graduate tax:

    “The NUS proposed a limited graduate tax – i.e. that you stopped paying the tax when you’d repaid a certain amount. Doesn’t sound anything like fees at all, of course!”

    You are wrong, yet in your ealrier comment you said we needed an honest debate (in response to my factually correct comments). I don’t expect that you’re the kind of person that does apologies, so I’m not waiting.

  • @Iain Roberts

    Thanks for the apology.

    It is way off topic, but since you raised the issue of the NUS system being linked to income rather than the course costs then I will respond:

    To my mind, the principle of funding HE through progressive taxation is that it transfers wealth from those that have benefitted from HE to the younger generations that will benefit from HE. It is a more efficient and successful method of ensuring the continuation of a level playing field and a meritocratic society than other blunter methods such as increasing the inheritance tax take (which can also be more easily avoided). I don’t believe that progressive taxation should be used to fund the purchase of barbie dolls, petrol, car maintenance, crisps, beer, pub lunches, etc. HE is different because of its vital role in ensuring equality of opportunity.

    The concept of individuals paying the market cost for something as a matter of discretion is a libertarian/tory ideology (and the same with taxes – thats why tories prefer VAT to income tax, etc). In itself that may be no bad thing in some instances, but it doesn’t take into account the inequality of wealth and opportunity created by inheritance, privilege, closed micro-societies, etc. That’s why people like myself (I consider myself a modern liberal) support the funding of HE through progressive taxation. As such, the difference between tuition fees/graduate tax, regressive/progressive taxation isn’t just semantic, it is fundamental to how society operates.

  • @Simon Shaw

    Look at point number 17 in the link provided by Iain Roberts. Someone earning 45k pays less for the same course than someone earning 40k. Not just less as a proportion of their income, but less money. How is that fair?

    Besides, you’re only looking at the monthly payments, not the total amount paid over the lifetime of the graduate.

  • I really don’t understand what you are saying, Oranjepan. Who are you accusing of “pandering to the sympathies of onlookers”? I get the fact that some you accuse are in the Lib Dems, but what sympathies are you referring to? Are you trying to say George Osborne’s interpretation of the economic position and remedies in the UK is the only one you can accept? Are you saying that having loud and passionate political argument is wrong, as it may stir up riots?

    Considering the background and values of the party, these seem strange arguments to make, if that is indeed anything like what you are trying to put over?

  • Kevin Colwill 19th Aug '11 - 8:29pm

    I have mentioned the MSC Napoli and the events on Branscoombe beach in previous threads.
    My argument is that there are many in our society who given the right circumstances will happily break the law and ignore authority in pursuit of some piece of desirable consumer merchandise. Those who walked into smashed in shops and helped themselves to the goods were, in their own minds, doing nothing worse than those who helped themselves to goods in the containers on that Devon beach.
    I certainly feel there has been some self righteous and hypocritical comments about the opportunistic looting. I make a clear distinction between those who actively participated in violent destruction and those who, albeit selfishly, greedily and callously, were only taking advantage of the mayhem.

  • Lloyd George said ” Build Homes for Heroes”. Subsidised housing for those who have not worked, unless they are handicapped is a privilege, for which they should be grateful. Over the last 10-14 yrs, the vast majority of new jobs have been taken by foreigners. Too often honest and hard working people have had their lives blighted by living next to criminals. If immigrants are prepared to work long hours to improve the qulity of lives and their families, why cannot the rioters? Why should lazy criminals live in subsidised housing and on welfare ? Beveridge and Lloyd George never created the Welfare State for lazy criminals, it was a reward to those lived and died in two World Wars, in that we might be free. The five ‘Giant Evils’ were described as Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness . It would appear the rioters refuse to make use of our education system which can only described as ignorance and wish to remain idle, while immigrants undertake work.

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    What a refreshing discussion started by William, warning but also encouraging us. I think we can go strong on climate change policies, as you suggest, William -...
  • Simon McGrath
    “ Technically speaking, Israel is a democracy” Well yes. Alas Israeli’s have elected a dreadful government but the key is they elected them. And yes it...
  • David Allen
    Chris Moore, I'll be delighted if the party can prove me wrong!...
  • Chris Moore
    @David Allen: Paul Marshall is long gone from the party. Social Liberalism is the dominant current of thinking . You'd need to back up your slightly cyni...