Miliband accuses govt of ‘gimmicky’ response to riots

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron is adopting a superficial response to the riots which will not address their underlying causes, Ed Miliband has said.

In a speech to his former school, the Labour leader said that concentrating merely on "culture" and not "deprivation" will fail to address the reality of what has happened to inner-city Britain.

"It's not the first time we've seen this kind of me-first, take-what-you-can attitude," Mr Milband said, reprising a theme he first outlined during the phone-hacking scandal.

"The bankers who took millions while destroying people's savings: greedy, selfish, immoral. The MPs who fiddled their expenses: greedy, selfish, immoral. The people who hacked phones to get stories and make money for themselves: greedy, selfish and immoral. Let's talk about what this does to our culture.

"A new policy a day, knee-jerk gimmicks unveiled without being properly thought through, are unlikely to solve the problem."

Mr Miliband pointed towards some of the populist ideas coming from Downing Street over the weekend, including a plan to strip those found guilty of rioting of their benefits, expelling rioters and their families from council flats, inviting a New York police chief to advise the government on gang culture and instituting a "zero tolerance" approach to street policing.

He also reminded Mr Cameron that he was open about his concern for economic factors, including the social effects of poverty, while in opposition but is going out of his way to avoid discussing them as prime minister.

"I don't understand why he has changed his mind. The world hasn't changed," he added.

"Maybe it isn't his view of the world that has changed, but his view of what would make him popular that has changed.

"I am clear: both culture and deprivation matter. To explain is not to excuse. But to refuse to explain is to condemn to repeat."

Mr Miliband's speech took place in Haverstock comprehensive in north London. The route the Labour leader used to take to school was hit by rioting last week.

The speech marks an end to the short period of cross-party cooperation on the rioting which dominated parliamentary debate last Thursday. While both leaders talked collegiately during that exchange, it was already clear that potential fault lines had developed in their initial response to the crisis.