Anna Soubry Comments on the Recent Riots

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the rioting and looting. I hope this goes some way to answering those emails.

As you will know from my last email newsletter I am out of the country on holiday. However, I have been following events and of course have been monitoring the situation in Broxtowe. I am particularly grateful to Ruth Hyde, the Chief Executive of Broxtowe Borough Council and Paul Scarrott, the Assistant Chief Constable, for keeping me up to date. From the reports that I have received there have been no disturbances in the constituency and Notts police have done a good job in difficult circumstances elsewhere. I understand that Police from Broxtowe have provided support to their colleagues in Nottingham.

I was particularly struck by the brave decision not to cancel Tuesday’s football match between Forest and Notts County which passed without incident, allowing the police to tackle disgraceful criminal activity in the city, notably the attack on Canning Circus police station.

I appreciate I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t but I have decided I cannot justify spending tax payer’s money to return for the statement today from the Prime Minister and the short Parliamentary debate on the events this week.

Broxtowe has not experienced the appalling rioting and looting we have witnessed in other parts of the country; I think the Prime Minister has more than ably expressed the thoughts and views of the overwhelming majority of decent law abiding people; today’s debate will quite properly come from those MP’s who represent the people and the areas which have suffered the most in recent days.

From what I have seen, read and been told, those responsible for the rioting, violence and burglary of shops and premises are gangs and groups of, mainly, yobs engaging in very serious criminal behaviour. The Prime Minister has made it clear that those responsible will be brought to justice and can expect lengthy custodial sentences.

As I explained this morning on Radio Nottingham these are serious offences of public disorder which usually attract prison sentences marked in years rather than months.

I agree with the Prime Minister when he says parts of our society are sick. As a criminal barrister I had too many clients who had been born into a moral vacuum without decent values and family role models. Too many of my clients lived totally selfish, amoral lives with no sense of responsibility for their own or their family’s lives. Most decided not to work, expecting welfare handouts and believing they had some sort of right to the sort of possessions and goods law abiding people work hard to buy. For way too long politicians of all persuasions failed to talk honestly about what has happened to much of our society and past attempts to cure this sickness have clearly failed.

I would like to comment on the police as I very much hope we can now have an equally honest debate about what we expect from them.  I think politicians have sent out mixed messages. We expect the police to keep our streets safe from looters and rioters but we criticise them when they “kettle” protestors and there is talk of water cannons and plastic bullets.

When you are faced with large numbers of criminals who are on the streets and out of control you need to take tough action and it is not a pretty sight. There is a clear balance to be struck between taking swift and effective action against yobs setting fires on our streets and allowing youngsters to protest against government policy outside Parliament.

Respect for authority, self control and taking responsibility for your own life and actions were often condemned as “old fashioned values”. If nothing else then I hope we might now understand that the sort of things we have seen on our TV screens since Sunday would not have happened if so many had not abandoned those values.

Our streets belong to us all and I have no doubt the vast majority of decent, law abiding people are heartily sick of a very small minority thinking they have sole ownership our towns and city centres.

We have many social problems in Britain and many people continue to need and deserve our support. It’s all about striking the right balance which has for too long been tipped in the wrong direction.

I would very much welcome your thoughts.

With Best Wishes,

Anna

Contact Anna either at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
or at Barton House, 61 High Road, Chilwell NG9 4AJ
0207 219 7211  or 0115 9436507