Nearly nine out of ten British people agree with Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that attributes the root cause of the riots to ‘a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society’, our poll has discovered.
The poll gave panellists a list of different and conflicting quotations from various articles and other responses to the causes of the recent English riots, and asked them to state how much they agreed or disagreed with each. The survey presented the opinions as statements, neither specifying that they were excerpts from newspaper articles nor saying who had said them.
Richard Littlejohn of The Daily Mail drew support from more than four in five, who voiced agreement that the riots were not a political protest but in fact ‘a grotesque manifestation of our shallow, instant gratification, I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now consumerist society’.
A similar amount agreed with The Independent’s Mark Steel who said ‘one thing that's probably true is that the more stable and secure your life is, the less likely you are to smash windows and set fire to an assortment of buildings.’
- 85% of British people agree with David Cameron’s statement that the cause of the riots is ‘a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society’ and that people are ‘allowed to feel that the world owes them something’
- 81% agree with Richard Littlejohn that the riots weren’t politically motivated but ‘a grotesque manifestation of our shallow, instant gratification, I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now consumerist society’
- 78% agreed with The Independent’s Mark Steel who wrote: ‘one thing that's probably true is that the more stable and secure your life is, the less likely you are to smash windows and set fire to an assortment of buildings’
- The most disputed statement, with 56% of people in disagreement, was from Zoe Williams of The Guardian who said ‘this is what happens when people don't have anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can't afford, and they have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it’. Only 26% agreed with this.
But while most people agree with David Cameron’s diagnosis of the riots, his suggestions for a cure have divided opinion. 36% agreed and 33% disagreed with his statement that ‘only education can provide a way forward and a way out for these rioters’.
The poll comes after four nights of inner city rioting shook England earlier this month. Following the riots, journalists and politicians alike have attempted to address the reasons behind the unrest, and it seems that from our list, and despite criticism, Cameron’s initial statement actually most clearly embodied the opinion of the majority of Britons asked, closely followed by that of Richard Littlejohn.
The Prime Minister’s other key statement, however, which claimed that ‘only education can provide a way forward and a way out for these rioters’, split opinion. Cameron has since added that tackling the ‘broken society’ is back at the top of his agenda following the riots, and has pledged an ‘all-out war’ on gangs’ as part of plans to tackle the perceived so-called ‘moral collapse’.