Panic on the Streets of London--Who's to Blame?

LONDON, UK--The blame for Tottenham and Hackney is getting passed around like a parcel at a children’s party. So whose fault is it anyway? Prime Minister David Cameron says it's “criminality – pure and simple” started by “thugs.” London Mayor Boris Johnson says those who helped instigate the rioting will face “punishments that they will bitterly regret" (they already have--some say, excessively so) and Home Secretary Theresa May refuted claims of deeper underlying problems, declaring it was about “sheer criminality."

That may be the easy analysis. It's much harder to reconcile with what one young man told Johnson when the mayor toured an affected London neighborhood. "Think about the amount of time you are cutting and cutting and cutting and then you are putting off youth fees...You are spending hundreds of millions of pounds a week, okay, in Libya, when you can be over here. Sort yourselves over here first!"

(Americans: sound familiar?)

But according to renowned historian David Starkey, it may not be just a reaction to the "austerity" cuts to education and NHS. Starkey controversially (to say the least) offered up the theory that the riots were a cultural by-product: "The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion and black and white boys and girls operate in this language together."

Meanwhile, however, a website offering a Google map of London has been launched, highlighting the businesses worst hit by the violence and encouraging new customers to offer trade to those recovering. The two most-looted stores? JD Sports - a clothing line that hails the image of the underground--and the Carphone Warehouse’s mobiles.

--Oli Foster