Riots could happen again, warns Tottenham MP


The MP for Tottenham, where rioting triggered this summer's eruption of looting in English cities, has warned that conditions are ripe for trouble to break out again next year.

David Lammy said joblessness, poverty and poor housing allied to a lack of male role models, crumbling community links and simple greed had combined with "toxic" results in his constituency four months ago. He said that the deep-seated social and economic problems facing inner-city areas could get worse and called for a fresh effort to reach out to disaffected young people.

In an interview with The Independent, he said: "We need politicians of all political parties to attend to these issues or it could happen again." He said this year's mayhem differed from the violence that hit Tottenham in 1985 in that it was not a race riot. "What we saw in 2011 was not just a battle against the police: it was a battle within and across community," he said.

But Mr Lammy, who grew up in Tottenham, added there were also chilling parallels between the disturbances. "For any area to have two riots in a generation is a catastrophe," he said. "It is with tremendous sadness that 25 years later you see some of those individuals' children caught up in these disturbances."

Mr Lammy also disclosed that he considered challenging Ken Livingstone to become Labour's candidate in next year's elections for the London mayoralty. "I did think about it, but in the end my community needs me," he said.

Despite his eight years as a minister, he also turned down a place on Ed Miliband's front bench. The reason, he said, was he wanted to focus on writing a book detailing the pressures building in his constituency. The violence on Tottenham High Road and its rapid spread meant the book, Out of the Ashes, had to be rapidly rewritten.

Mr Lammy said there were legitimate criticisms of the police over the shooting of Mark Duggan, which sparked the trouble, and over officers' slow response. But he added: "The rioting was not just about police numbers – it was about selfishness and greed... [The rioters] were helping themselves to Xboxes and DVD recorders – that had nothing to do with Mark Duggan."

He said the young rioters had grown up in "hyper-individualised times" where they felt entitlement to consumer goods, but little responsibility to fellow citizens. He said: "We have to ask why so many people felt they didn't have a sufficient stake in society."

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed