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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Expenses, 'Phone Hacking, Riots ''All The Same Problem''

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has said the underlying causes of the recent riots are the same ones that saw MPs fiddling their expenses, bankers sending the UK's finances into freefall while pocketing huge bonuses, and newspapers hacking mobile 'phone voice mails of murder victims and others.

Essentially, he said, all the perpetrators deliberately turned a blind eye to what was right and what was wrong and chose to think only of their own needs. And this 'me first' approach was a major flaw in the thinking of too many people that really needed to be sorted out.

"There is an issue which went to all our souls," Miliband said on BBC radio, "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."

He went on: "It's right the courts are handing down exemplary sentences because there needs to be a signal sent that we won't tolerate these things in our society, that it's not okay to do these things.

"We have got to ask why do we have people in our society who feel that the way they can get on and the right thing to do is go and nick the telly, engage in the kind of looting we saw. 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."

When it was pointed out that the children rioting were 'Blair's children' in that they all grew up under a Labour administration that was in power for 13 years, Miliband said: "I deeply regret that inequality wasn't reduced under the last Labour government. But we did great things to tackle inequality in our society."

Pointedly, he added: "We did better at rebuilding the fabric of our country than the ethic of our country."

Miliband also repeated his request for a public inquiry into the riots which did not include "a bunch of academics in Whitehall ... but the good, decent people of Tottenham".

"I really hope the Prime Minister in the next couple of days, before everything dissipates and the dust settles, agrees to that public inquiry," he said.

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