Riots: Miliband blames 'me first' culture


Labour Leader, Ed Miliband called for a "national conversation" over the riots

Ed Miliband has blamed the riots that swept English cities on a "me first" culture - and accepted Labour must share the blame for creating it.

The Labour leader said his party had failed to tackle inequality and not paid enough attention to morality.

And he linked the riots to a wider collapse in social responsibility exemplified by the banking crisis and MPs expenses scandal.

He said he would set up his own riots inquiry if David Cameron failed to act.

'Sick society'

Mr Cameron has not ruled out holding a public inquiry - but has said he wants MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee to complete its investigation first.

The prime minister has also spoken of a collapse in personal responsibility and has claimed parts of Britain were not just "broken" but "sick".

Start Quote

We did better at rebuilding the fabric of our country than the ethic”

End Quote Ed Miliband Labour leader

He told the BBC's North West Tonight crooked bankers and MPs deserved to be punished - but their behaviour should not be used as an excuse for lawlessness.

"We need responsibility right through our country - responsibility is the most important word in politics.

"But it cannot be used as an excuse - that was law breaking, that was looting, that was thieving.

"It's no good trying to blame that on someone else. All irresponsibility should be punished."

In a Commons statement on Thursday, the prime minister vowed to "restore a sense of stronger sense of morality and responsibility".

But he rejected Mr Miliband's call for a public inquiry, saying MPs were already listening to their communities - and the home affairs committee was holding an inquiry which should "do this work first".

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the breakdown in social order that occurred this week showed many people had lost their sense of right and wrong and there was a "me first" culture.

"There is an issue which went to all our souls - this is an issue not just about the responsibility and irresponsibility we saw on the streets of Tottenham.

"It's about irresponsibility, wherever we find it in our society.

"We've seen in the past few years MPs' expenses, what happened in the banks, what happened with phone hacking."

'Usual suspects'

And he admitted that Labour had not done enough to tackle deep-rooted moral problems during its 13 years in power.

"I deeply regret that inequality wasn't reduced under the last Labour government. But we did great things to tackle inequality in our society," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We did better at rebuilding the fabric of our country than the ethic of our country."

He urged the prime minister set up a public inquiry in the next few days, adding: "We have got to avoid simplistic answers.

"There's a debate some people are starting: is it culture, is it poverty and lack of opportunity? It's probably both."

Mr Miliband said that if Mr Cameron does not agree to set up an inquiry "I'm going to do it myself".

Speaking to a group of young people in Brixton, south London, Mr Miliband said the inquiry should not just take evidence from the "usual suspects" but should also include people from communities affected by the rioting.

The Commons home affairs committee will begin its inquiry on 6 September, with London Mayor Boris Johnson set to be its first witness.

Committee chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said: "We will be looking at police tactics, we will be looking at the operation of gangs, we will be looking at mobile communications, and we will be revisiting some of the issues we have looked at in the past, such as the inquiry into the G20 protests.

"This will be a thoughtful and measured inquiry."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    You cannot run a decent society on a crude monetarist economics alone. People matter far more than 'market forces' and this society has given itself over to unfettered greed at the expense of the majority. Time to raise the taxes on the wealthy graspers and to provide real jobs for the entire population, thus giving some hope to the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    545. monkeypuzzletree

    Balance! This 400 limit is a pain isn't it!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    The Scottish - bless them - passed the land ownership act in 2003 which gives them the right to roam and acquire land for public need.
    In the UK, the Duke of Westminister, the wealthiest landowner recieved £799,000 in subsidy over two years in 2005.
    Benefit scrounger.
    And some people are shocked when someone steals a pair of trainers and demands their benefit be cut (often they don't claim it)

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    543. monkeypuzzletree

    ...And that was a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    Call me Dave is saying that dishonest bankers and politicians should be punished , probalbaly to set the morale tone. But the question us will they?

    This rediscovery of morality appears, at least in tone, to have been forced on Dave by the riots coming hot on the heels of the hacking scandal. Dave must be wallowing in new found feelings of morality and purpose in life, as the stable broom!!


Comments 5 of 549


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