There are a number of reasons behind the riots, says TOM HARRIS. Geography is not one of them


It is a fact that (so far, touch wood) the riots that have wreaked so much devastation have been confined to English cities.

The First Minister said as much on the wireless this morning, and he was right. But was he right to point out that the riots are an “English, not UK” phenomenon?

Obviously not.

Compare and contrast to the outpouring of solidarity from all quarters when a madman murdered nearly 100 people in and near Oslo, Norway, a few weeks ago. “We’re all Norwegian now!” was the unanimous – and correct – response.

At various times we’ve appropriated the nationalities of many countries and nations where calamity has befallen – “We’re all Norwegian, Palestinian, New Zealanders, Japanese, etc now”…

Alas, our First Minister’s (and presumably his party’s) empathetic abilities don’t stretch as far as Manchester, let alone London. Yes, it’s true that so far Scottish cities have been mercifully free from the anarchy that has afflicted English cities.

But why say so?

Most of us accept that there are underlying issues that result in the riots. Not that those causing the damage aren’t thugs and thieves – they certainly are – and there may well be reasons, reaching generations back, that make it likelier that some people are more inclined to such behaviour. Maybe they feel they have no stake in society, maybe they resent the affluence they see all around them and can’t share in, maybe they see no end to the generational cycle to unemployment, benefit dependency and strangling at birth of aspiration.

And maybe those on the right wing are right – maybe these are just bad people who do bad things for no reason.

That’s a debate we should be having, and that includes those of us in Scotland. Because if any of the above “reasons” (note: not excuses) are at all valid, then they’re relevant to our own cities as well.

Instead of trying to score a petty, pathetic, Saltire-waving point against our southern neighbours, Salmond should instead have remembered that he is supposed to act like a statesman at least some of the time. He should have shown some solidarity, entered into the debate about what causes such violence and acknowleged that Scotland, like the rest of the UK, has major issues of poverty and disenfranchisement to be addressed.

That would have been welcome. And if I’m perfectly honest, I think his contribution would have been worth listening to. He is, after all, an intelligent man.

Which is why his “wha’s like us?” approach is so disappointing and so far less than what Scotland deserves.

Tom Harris is the Labour MP for Glasgow South. Follow him on Twitter at @TomHarrisMP.

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103 thoughts on “Whaur’s yer solidarity noo, Eck?

  1. Tom, like you, I have lived in London and I have lived in Glasgow.

    That’s why I am quite happy to stick my neck out and categorically state that there will be no riots here.

    Oh, there might be a few wee diddy neds who try and do some copycat stuff but that will be easily enough dealt with by the police.

    It will not happen here for the simple reason that there is not the same tradition of youths going out to battle with the police. Because that is what the riots are about. The looting and arson are side issues – it’s mainly about fighting the police.

    It may sound a bit odd describing that as a tradition – a bit like Beefeaters or the changing of the guard – but nonetheless that is what it is. And it is not a tradition that exists in Scotland.

    There is no need for us to feel smug about that when we have our own particular problem with sectarian violence.

    So that gives me an idea – maybe we can do a deal.

    I’ll accept the label “UK riots” if you accept the label “UK sectarianism”.

    Then maybe you could give us your thoughts on what the UK can do to deal with the problem of UK sectarianism. After all you wouldn’t want to imply it is just a Scottish/Irish issue would you?

    1. Why are sectarian issues in Northern Ireland and Scotland not called “UK issues”?

    2. Why are HBoS and RBS labeled as Scottish Banks and not referred to as British Banks?

  2. Tom, you ask the question whether Salmond was right to point out that, so far, these riots have been confined to English cities and then answer it yourself, stating “obviously, not”. In what way is it obvious he was not right to point this out?

    Up until yesterday, every MSM called these UK (or British) riots. Other countries have stated warning their citizens to avoid travelling to the UK (not just England, the UK) so Scotland’s tourism/trade stands to be affected by this (another Union dividend?).

    The stark difference to Norway/Palistine/New Zealand/Japan/etc. is that Scotland had the choice as whether to stand with those countries. In this case, Scotland is being seconded (and damaged) regardless of any choice.

    Yet you critise the First Minister for scoring cheap political points? Just can’t help yourself, now, can you?

    1. As I thought, SNP members and leadership seem to be genuinely insular enough to worry about the indirect effect the riots might have on Scottish tourism before the direct effect they might be having on British people.

      Genuinely disgusted.

      1. I presume you’ll be withdrawing your remarks about the SNP leadership in light of the offer of Scottish police officers to assist in England?

      2. So we have to potentially damage our tourist industry just to show our concern for the peoples of England? That’s the only way to do so? Yes, I’m genuinely disgusted too, at your cringe factor.

      3. Mr Harris

        Comparing and contrasting the brutal murder of one hundred young people in Norway to a wave of youth criminality makes no sense. These two events stand up to no comparison and as a result reactions have been completely different. There is a profound difference between ‘calamity’ and the manifestation of a social problem through crime.

        This article is a poorly argued exercise all about point scoring.

      4. What dont you get about this. The British label is inaccurate until the riots spread here. Tell me this, if the riots had only been in London would you think it would be fair on the other English cities to describe it as an English riot? And dont dare tell us this is the only aspect we care about. The riots are appalling and we support the people of England and know it may happen here. But until it does will you please get over it and stop being so blinkered.

  3. Indeed Tom a wee google brought up this gem from yourself:

    “It’s called “Scotland’s shame” for a reason: sectarianism makes you feel embarrassed to be Scottish. I hate it when the subject is even raised when I’m with English friends because I imagine they must look at us as a backward nation. That is, after all, a logical conclusion: what kind of people still think it’s remotely acceptable even to care about what religion other people follow, never mind object to that religion? What kind of nation still tolerates this kind of mindset?”

    I actually agree with you on that. Sectarianism is a Scottish problem – it’s not an English problem. So it is for us to deal with.

    But the same applies both ways you know. If it is wrong to describe riots as being English because they only happen in England it is also wrong to describe sectarianism as a Scottish problem because it doesn’t happen in England.

  4. It’s always ironic when people accuse others of point scoring when they are doing the very same.

    On the media reporting of the riots, hopefully it won’t happen but until such time other parts of the UK, such as Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or rural parts of England are affected by riots, then probably the most accurate way to describe them would be as English city riots.

    Why should there be a possible negative impact on the tourist industry in those areas which have not had any rioting, simply because some people in the media and politicians describe the riots as being UK wide? If people from abroad are given the impression the whole of the UK is affected and this puts them off from coming to these islands then it would be very sad indeed, and a real tragedy if even more people were to lose their jobs and businesses than those who have already done so as a direct result of the riots.

  5. The exploitation of this issue by certain elements to make petty nationalist points is simply disgusting. There may not have been riots (yet) in Pilton or Pollokshields but that does not mean we can complacently assume some sort of Scottish superiority or Celtic immunity. And, if your first thought is how international headlines might impact on attendance at the Braemar Games rather than pity for the families of three dead victims in Birmingham you represent a vision of Scotland which I simply want no part of.

    The smug, self satisfied “here’s tae us” mentality does Scotland no favours.

    1. Maybe you could explain to us how people in Braemar losing their jobs would help the families of the victims in Birmingham?

      1. The wider economic and long-term impact of rioting in various British cities should be of concern to us all. However, that is not the immediate priority nor should it be the initial reaction of anyone with genuine sympathy for the victims.

        A brief trawl through the net illuminates all too clearly the unpleasant face of narrow nationalism. Calls to prevent Scottish police being sent to help and far greater concern over nomenclature than people or communities. One individual on a Nationalist supporting site states, not atypically, “never reached a hand out 2 us ever, let them sort it out its camerons mess, not ours”.

        That’s the sort of response which, thankfully, the vast majority of Scots would disown and Salmond should not pander to with ill judged comments.

        1. Scotland’s tourism industry lives on a knife edge at the best of times. In the current economic climate, anything that detracts from potential visitor numbers should be discouraged. These riots are happening in England. Fact. So far, they haven’t happended in Scotland. Fact. What’s the problem with calling them English riots in English cities?

          In next set of local elections, will potential Labour councillors tell ex-B&B owners in Edinburgh, Inverness, etc. that the loss of their business was a price worth paying to show our solidarity will the peoples of England caught up in these riots?

          1. As a P.S. , some of the businesses that have closed due to these riots will never open again. A real tragedy. Are you seriously stating that we shouldn’t concern ourselves if the same happens to businesses north of the border?

    2. Let me make one thing absolutely clear, I condemn completely all the violence taking place wherever it happens in these islands, south of the border or if it does come up here. Please do not try to falsely portray the opposite.

      I think the deaths in Birmingham are absolutely appalling and my thoughts are with the families of the victims at this tragic time for them. Please do not try to falsely portray the opposite.

      Tom Harris decided to use the riots as an excuse to attack the SNP. He could have taked about any other issues surrounding the riots, social / economic problems, law and order, prevention of spreading to other areas in Scotland. He decided to nat-bash instead, that was his choice. The public are done a great dis-service when elected politicians act in such a way.

    3. I don’t think that anyone was being particularly complacent; the riots may come to Scotland, or indeed they may not.

      For the present they are English riots. On the first night they were London riots.

      As another commentator offers, the sectarian problem is a Scottish one. There may be football riots in England but they are team based, not religion based. We never hear talk of UK or British Sectarianism. It is always, quite rightly a Scottish problem.

      For heaven’s sake no one is being smug about it, and it does you no credit to assume that Scots are gloating about the problems in England.

  6. The potential harm to the Scottish tourism industry is one reason to differentiate between UK Riots and English Riots.
    These riots happened exclusively in England, yet Scotland is tarnished with the same brush. The BBC, along with many other media outlets, beamed “UK Riots” across the globe. The result was foreign governments issuing caution to their citizens travelling to the UK.
    When we spend £millions on Tourism to get peoples from other countries to come to Scotland, in one fell swoop, the British media and Westminster govenment manged to potentially ruin livelyhoods of the B&B owners who are just managing to scrape by each year, depending on the tourist trade.
    The BBC have now rightly changed to calling them English riots. Others should follow suit. The riots in N.Ireland have never been called UK riots. Why on earth were the English ones called that?

  7. I have to admit, as an Englishman – Scotland should not be tarred with our shame. The long bleeding poison of Political Correctness has alienated and ghettoised too many of our young people and made our police crippled and impotent. This is not Scotland’s fault.

    Division has been actively encouraged in place of integration, and riots that should have been stamped on firmly on day one allowed to run completely out of all control, encouraging others to join in.

    This is not Scotland’s fault. Not Scotland’s shame.

    I DO appreciate the solidarity of our Scottish brothers & sisters. It means a lot to know our UK family are with us.

    Thank you all for your support, however expressed.

  8. Have a read at Jimmy Reid’s Rat Race speech, it is as valid today as it was the day he made it.

    We in Scotland harbour hopes that the left of centre Scottish politicians, Labour and Nat MSPs, will take steps to prevent the Rich Poor divide that is continuing to grow in England.

    Some action please, lest anybody doesn’t understand I’m talking about taking control of Scotland’s Economy (not Independence) and removing us from the Tory state and Old Boy network which is taking all the money6.

  9. And remember that article you wrote about how Scottish Labour had to reinvent itself?

    “It’s about Scotland first, Scottish Labour second and UK Labour third.”


    Next time you are out and about in your constituency try asking your constituents how happy they are with the description UK riots.

  10. “…was he right to point out that the riots are an “English, not UK” phenomenon?”

    Are cities an “English, not UK” phenomenon? Obviously not.

    Are inner cities an “English, not UK” phenomenon? Obviously not.

    Is disaffected inner city youth an “English, not UK” phenomenon? Obviously not.

    Are the possible underlying reasons; social divisions, unemployment, poverty, hopelessness, criminality, greed, etc. “English, not UK” phenomena? Obviously not.

    The riots could happen here, or anywhere, with the appropriate trigger.

    Thank god they haven’t and hope that they don’t.

    1. This is now getting bizarre.

      On what basis do you say that riots could break out in Scotland “with the appropriate trigger”?

      Because – although no politician is actually saying so – no-one expects that to happen here. Maybe we are all wrong – and will be proved wrong when several hundred youths start running up Sauchiehall Street laying waste to all around them.

      But you and Tom Harris are the only two people in Scotland who think that is even remotely likely.

      Just as a matter of interest, can you tell me when the last (non-football related) riot took place in Scotland?

      Cos nobody else can. I think you would have to go back to the 40 hours strike in 1919 ,when another UK Coalition Government sent the troops into Glasgow to break it up.

      Does that not tell you something?

      People just don’t go in for rioting in Scotland and the question is just how out of touch are you and Tom with Scottish people that you don’t know that?

      1. “On what basis do you say that riots could break out in Scotland “with the appropriate trigger”?”

        Indy, we are constantly being told that conditions are relatively worse in terms of inequality, educational attainment, poverty, illness, life expectancy etc. in Scotland, therefore we need “independence”.

        If these are elemental causes of the riots in England, and I believe they are, then the riots could happen in Scotland.

        1. You are assuming that the trigger for the riots is poverty deprivation etc. I don’t. I have said what I think the motivation is – it’s about having a go at the police. And I suspect that most British people understand that even if politicians don’t.

          1. It doesn’t matter what the trigger is, I said it could happen here with the “appropriate” trigger. And it could, as you seem to accept. Or do you think Scots are immune to “having a go at the police” (if that really is the trigger)?

      1. They should be addressed in the short term and the long term. What you call them now is, despite the Nats atempt to divide when we need unity, is a nasty irrelevance.

        1. How does giving the impression that Scotland is involved in these riots show unity to people across the UK? How is it possible to feel British when UK institutions confuse England with Britain. Labour should be standing up for Scotland on this one as by definition you will be standing up for the UK. Ie Scotland is understood and respected by the UK so no need to want independence when the UK understands and respects. It is the failure to stop this England/UK confusion which makes people turn to the SNP in the first place. So do yourselves a favour.

    2. Is Andy Murray a UK or Scottish tennis player, and how does the media south of the border describe him?

      If these riots were happening here, and not in England, would the media describe them as UK riots? Run the risk of damaging tourism in England to “show solidarity” with Scots?

      Just what is the problem with calling them English riots taking place in English cities? Would anyone here actually care about describing them as such if Salmond hadn’t said it and Tom hadn’t wrote about it?

      1. Andy Murray can speak for himself, surely.

        As Tom says, when a tragedy happens in one part of Norway, and Eck tells us (correctly) we’re “all Norwegian”.

        Now we have a tragedy in parts of the UK, and Eck says we have to divide the UK into them and us…….

    3. Alex, they needn’t be as bad if we had Full Fiscal Autonomy, we could implement savings slower and keep more jobs here in Scotland.

      The question is — Are these riots an English phenomenon? possibly, we just don’t know.

      We do have the same underlying problems but as yet , no riots.

      So let’s not wait until we do, tell the people what a Labour Government will do fot the Scots, I for one amd still waiting.
      Are you not impressed by Jimmy Reids prophetic speech??

      BTW how’s retirement when you are away from politics???

      1. Full Fiscal Autonomy is another argument. A red herring.

        I agree that we don’t know if the riots will be confined to England. That’s what I said and it’s what Tom said in the blog.

        A Labour Government will do what it always does. Run the economy for growth and use the dividend to improve wages, number of doctors, nurses, teachers, policemen/women, schools hospitals, .. we achieved these things and the SNP has not and the Tories don’t even try.

        In other words, Labour (while not being perfect) does the things that make for a better society.

        Jimmy Reid was a good man. He started as a Communist, became an adviser to Neil Kinnock, wrote for the Sun and ended up a Nationalist.

        Not a role model to take unselectively.

  11. Hi folks

    I fear this may be another example of getting into the disingenuous political bubble of painting the SNP as nasty “insular” people. Labour has tried this for years and, quite simply, it holds no resonance whatever. Anyone who personally knows SNP supporters and members can see very quickly that it is nonsense.

    I honestly feel that in this circumstance the Scottish Government has shown solidarity in a proactive way through providing police officers and equipment to help curtail the unrest in England. Furthermore, although the priority must, MUST be to show solidarity with the people who are victims of the riots, it would be very misguided to assume that people of all political persuasions in Scotland are not irked by the portrayal of the riots as a UK wide problem. It is right for a Scottish FM (whether Labour or SNP) to highlight that the unrest is not occurring north of the border whilst prioritising solidarity and offering practical help. I honestly think Salmond has struck the right balance. There is really no need for workers reliant on the tourist industry elsewhere in the UK (including Wales, Northern Ireland and Northern England as well as Scotland) to become indirect victims of the civil unrest. We have to minimise the socio-economic damage of these tragic events upon the wider UK and doing so is not to the detriment of pan-British solidarity.

    It may be cathartic to sometimes portray the SNP as somehow being latently nasty. However, it is palpably nonsensical and projects a sense of opportunistic reactionism steeped in bitterness, blatant misrepresentation and delusion. It is frankly one of the reasons Labour has lost the last two Scottish Elections and it is a lesson that Labour must learn from. In contrast, UK Labour has the right approach on these events as epitomised by Harriot Harman yesterday on Newsnight: outrage at the wanton destruction and anti-social elements of the riots but recognition of the complex causes. All of us with a sense of social justice must take in the face of the hang ‘em, flog ‘em right-wing rhetoric that has sadly and predictably come to the surface from some quarters.

  12. Tom you missed the important bit:

    “Salmond said Scottish society was different to England’s, implying that riots were much less likely in Scotland. Referring to the riots being UK-wide increased the risks of copycat riots and risked damaging Scotland’s reputation as a tourism destination, he told BBC Radio Scotland.

    “We know we have a different society in Scotland” ” – Guardian

    Typical nationalist crap – ‘the people that live within these arbitrary borders are better than everyone else’. As to be expected, he and the SNP will reject solidarity with the rest of Britain at every opportunity, no matter what the circumstances are.

    Hopefully the next time he’ll do us all a favour and shut his face.

    1. Riots are less likely in Scotland than in England. That is simply a fact. When was the last riot in Scotland?

      There is nothing for us to be complacent about however because you could equally as when was the last sectarian march in England?

      It does no-one any favours to pretend that social order issues are the same in Scotland as they are in England because that is simply not the case. And it is even possible that by recognising that we could learn from each other. Perhaps Scotland has something to teach England about policing by consent and perhaps England has something to teach Scotland about moving on from religious bigotry.

  13. I get it now. What Tom is saying is that if the Norwegian mass murderer had been described as Scandanavian, the peoples of Sweden, Denmark and Finland would not be entitled to complain. It so obvious. The people of these countries would have been perfectly relaxed about this!

  14. Strange logic Mr. Harris. It’s quite possible to say that the riots are only occurring in England and also feel empathy and indeed show solidarity towards the victims. But you knew that, didn’t you?

  15. So it turns out that the beeb received more complaints from England re the description as UK riots than they did from Scotland. What do you make of that, Tom?

  16. Alex was very statesmanlike in his comments, I am delighted Grampian police are on their way to help our neighbours, I do not recognise your comment re “wha’s like us”, and I am surprised at the little Englander attitude of some of your labour supporters.

  17. I’ll make one additional comment in response to some of the comments left and then shut up.

    As I said in the article, the riots are happening in English cities only, not in Scottish ones. I described this as a fact. Quite a few commenters here must have missed that.

    If Salmond had said: “These riots haven’t spread to Scotland yet and I’m grateful for that,” then that would have been perfectly accurate, responsible and sensible. By using the phrase “These are English, not UK riots”, he was exhibiting an unnecessary level of insensitivity and schadenfreud unworthy of his office. It sounded like the old Alex – a balanced personality because he’s got a chip on both shoulders.

    How were his comments useful? Are there really people out there who saw the rioting in Manchester and thought “Oh no, it’s happening in Scotland now!” We already knew where the rioting was taking place, we didn’t need a geography lesson from Alex Salmond.

    And how, exactly, was this phrase supposed to show solidarity, or express sympathy for those cleaning up the wreckage this morning?

    It’s a fact that the IRA never targeted Scotland. Would it have been okay in the 70s to announce that the republicans were targeting “the English, not the British” before the bodies had been removed from the wreckage of the Birmingham pubs?

    1. Most of the complaints the beeb received re describing these as UK riots instead of English riots came from people in England. Most felt that describing them as UK riots diluted the issues and therefore any solution would be diluted to the same degree. These people want, to paraphrase, English solutions to English problems.

      Insisting they are described as UK riots does these people, the people of England, no favours and these people know that. It’s a pity you (and your supporters) don’t, Tom.

    2. “These riots haven’t spread to Scotland yet and I’m grateful for that,”

      I think Salmond did say something to that effect. Why insert the ‘yet’? Why not be grateful they have not spread elsewhere – full stop. A ‘yet’ may give some numpty the inclination to start something.

      “he was exhibiting an unnecessary level of insensitivity and schadenfreud[e] unworthy of his office.”

      Nonsense. Where was the schadenfreude? He showed no delight in the misfortunes of those suffering in England’s riots. He offered assistance and exhibited empathy and understanding. He was taking the mainstream media to task for claiming that riots where happening on a UK wide scale, thereby damaging Scotland’s fragile tourist industry.

      1. “He showed no delight in the misfortunes of those suffering in England’s riots. He offered assistance and exhibited empathy and understanding.”

        Maybe you have just read his comments. I can assure you that in TV, his own body language and tone were absolutely smug about this. I’m just glas this interview didnt get wider coverage, as it has embarassed Scotland.

        1. He made those comments on a radio interview with Good Morning Scotland. You must have a pretty good radio to see body language through it.

          Overall, it was a very good response by the First Minister to the questions. He was neither smug or condescending to the interviewer, clearly stating the facts that these riots had not spread to Scotland and that it was disengenious to label them so.

          Your dislike of Salmond on a personal level appears to be clouding your judgement, if not your eyesight.

    3. I’ve enjoyed the comments here, mostly thoughtful with the odd bit of bile (but less than on some other sites – the dire Scotsman comments comes to mind).

      Unfortunately, neither the original article nor the comment above by Tom Harris are up to the standard of many of the subsequent comments.

      As he says,

      “Most of us accept that there are underlying issues that result in the riots. Not that those causing the damage aren’t thugs and thieves – they certainly are – and there may well be reasons, reaching generations back, that make it likelier that some people are more inclined to such behaviour. Maybe they feel they have no stake in society, maybe they resent the affluence they see all around them and can’t share in, maybe they see no end to the generational cycle to unemployment, benefit dependency and strangling at birth of aspiration.

      And maybe those on the right wing are right – maybe these are just bad people who do bad things for no reason.

      That’s a debate we should be having, and that includes those of us in Scotland. Because if any of the above “reasons” (note: not excuses) are at all valid, then they’re relevant to our own cities as well.”

      So if that’s the debate we should be having – – – ?

      Perhaps Tom could redeem himself. Can he find the energy/motive to write another article about the ‘debate we should be having’.

      1. I didn’t notice this comment before.

        Maybe it’s just me but I would rather like to think that our politicians do not need a riot to make them concerned about social and economic problems.

        Because if they DO need a riot to start thinking along those lines … and we don’t have a riot (which we won’t) … does that mean they don’t have to bother?

  18. As an English born B & B owner in Edinburgh, i have had 7 cancellations due to the fact the The BBC / SKY reporting this as UK Riots, please Mr Harris explain to me why we SHOULD NOT differentiate between UK and English Riots?

    1. Aye, and all those pubs closed because of the smoking ban, and the reason people stopped buying boilers from a small shop on Leith Walk was parking restrictions. The band plays believe it if you like…

      Anyway, how dare you condemn the B&B owners of Cornwall to the same fate by insisting on calling these English riots? They are as far from rioters as you are. Where is your compassion?

    2. Maybe these people who cancelled live in London, Manchesterm, Birmingham, Liverpool Nottinghan etc and were afraid to leave their homes unoccupied?

      Lets face it, if they were watching Sky or the BBC News, then they live in the UK, and are quite capable of seeing that there are no riots in Edinburgh. If they have come from abroad, then its nothing to do with how Sky or the BBC represent the riots.

      This petty vindictiveness in wanting to call these English riots (what about the disturbances in Cardiff?) shows the nasty side of nationalism. The way Alex Salmond said he will not allow the riots to happen here – ridiculous! And I think its quite clear, that whatever the trigger for these disturbances, they could happen here. Maybe for different reasons, but they could happen.

      1. And here was me thinking the BBC has a world service and SKY can be viewed in Europe.

        1. Until we know the nationality of those who cancelled, I think thats a moot point, dont you?

          And last time I checked – I was in the UK too. These riots happened in my country as much as yours – however much you might want to change that.

          1. You said if visitors “have come from abroad, then its nothing to do with how Sky or the BBC represent the riots.”

            I disagree, and point out both the BBC and SKY broadcast outside the UK, so it is relevant how they represent the riots.

      2. “The way Alex Salmond said he will not allow the riots to happen here – ridiculous”.


        “The way Alex Salmond said he will not allow the riots to happen here – why he is First Minister”.

        1. I will welcome the sight of Alex Salmond working in the youth centres across the Scotland at once. Its ridiculous to think that one man, no matter how god-like, can stop rioting or violence.

  19. Mr. Harris. I can say that yes, I did think that there had been disturbances in Scotland due to the the “Across the UK” headlines. From an international persepctive, I therefore find your comments above rather parochial.

  20. BBC News also said it had decided to refer to the unrest as “England riots”, rather than “UK riots”. It said the change was “in recognition of the sensitivities involved for people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”, and was in the interest of geographical precision and clarity.

  21. Your point Tom about “we are all Norwegian now” is well made. What no one was saying however is we are all Scandinavian now. What would be wrong with us saying we are all English now to show our support both moral and material for our English neighbours. I have friends and family in England, I have total empathy and identify with them and the troubles. Incidentally I voted SNP at the last Scottish election, and no I do not hate England or the English who I find to be decent honourable people in the main.

    Did I not see Scottish police vans heading down the M74 last night on BBC News?

    Is that the actions of a government that is small minded parochial, gloating, and all the other nasty wee tags that have been flung in it’s direction by those of you who know in your hearts, that the BBC and other MSM outlets have just got this wrong and in the BBCs case have admitted so and changed their News tags?

    Northern Ireland riots ‘will cost the police millions” BBC News 2010

    “Northern Ireland riots: Police make 26 arrests” BBC News 2011

    “Northern Ireland riots: Robinson and McGuinness meeting” BBC New 2011

    No mention of Britain there by the BBC so you have to question why England is Britain but N Ireland is …. well, Northern Ireland?

    God forbid if we had riots in Scotland and Edinburgh was in flames the way we saw from London. What would the BBC tag their News, or Sky and The Telegraph. I am pretty confident it would not be “UK riots, UK in flames.”

    I am deeply sorry for what is happening in England, I feel for them and the reputation of their country, especially in the lead in to the “London Olympics.” as they are referred to on the MSM.

    Alex Salmond has done what any decent senior Scottish statesman should do and stood up for his country, which is why he is popular in Scotland and leads the Scottish government, others would do well to reflect on that fact.

    1. The thing is, that while help has been given – it has been given along with comments from the First Minister which are patronising and insulting. He might has well have said “There, there, we’ll help England out with their problems, because they cant do it themeselves, and we know best”.

      Hardly statesman-like. And not what I expect from my First Minister (of whatever party). If Iain Grey had made similar comments if elected in May, I would criticise him for them too.

      1. John please state exactly which comment was insulting and patronising to England? And tell us whether you think UK broadcasters gave a duty to accurately reflect the geography of the constituent countries of the UK? And finally do you think the BBC made an error when a couple of years ago it referred to northern Irish riots a ‘northern Irish riots’ and not as ‘British riots’? I ask in all due respect for answers to these questions.

        1. I would say all of them – and its not just the words – its the tone as much as the language.

          If you cant see what he said as patronising, it really shows what nationalism is all about. Its really about bashing England.

          1. Thanks John. And what about my other two questions? Really interested to know your response on them.

          2. It depends on what you mean by Geography.

            I live ni the UK. It is accurate to say that when a riot happens in my backyard, it happens in the UK. It would also be happening in Scotland, and in Angus.

            Would it be better to call it an Angus Riot? A Scottish Riot? A Uk Riot? Well, the thing is they’re all true!

            This is the thing which many nationalists seem unable to understand – you can be Scottish AND British.

            So in summary – the broadcasters were correct in calling them UK riots. They happened in the UK. They’re also right to call them English Riots – they happened in England.

  22. Travelling To Norway two days ago with an English colleague from Manchester, he remarked, unprompted, that he didn’t think that the riots would happen in Scotland as our cities had a different racial mix.

    At Edinburgh Airport I overheard three people (one Scottish, one English and one Dutch) discussing the riots and none of them thought that the riots would affect Scottish cities.

    Now offshore amongst a mix of international colleagues and being fed a diet of riots on Sky News, no one seems to think that these riots are anything but an English problem.

    It seems, Tom, that it is you that is trying to make political capital here.

    Remember, the BBC asked Mr Salmond directly what he thought.

  23. Tome Harris, Sept 2008, “YESTERDAY I received two emails from constituents complaining about sectarian chanting by Rangers supporters at a recent Old Firm match. It seems to have been even more offensive than usual – something about telling Catholics to go back to Ireland because “the famine is over.”

    Inevitably, of course, I knew nothing about this until I received the emails and then watched a news item on BBC’s Reporting Scotland. I say “inevitably” because I have no interest in football and whenever I’m asked the politically- and religiously-loaded question, “Which team do you support?”, I can honestly reply: “None.” That might seem odd coming from an MP who represents the constituency which hosts Scotland’s national stadium, but it is a game in which I find it very difficult to feign any interest.

    It’s called “Scotland’s shame” for a reason: sectarianism makes you feel embarrassed to be Scottish. I hate it when the subject is even raised when I’m with English friends because I imagine they must look at us as a backward nation. That is, after all, a logical conclusion: what kind of people still think it’s remotely acceptable even to care about what religion other people follow, never mind object to that religion? What kind of nation still tolerates this kind of mindset?

    The only time I ever seriously contemplated moving out of Scotland was in 1992, following the birth of my eldest son. I dreaded the idea of bringing him up in a city where so many people gave a toss about what school he went to.

    Whether you’re mocking people because their ancestors starved to death in the Irish potato famine, or flaunting past IRA terrorist atrocities from the terraces, you’re a moron. But unbelievably in 21st century Scotland, you’re still tolerated.”

    1. Its ironic that Unionist Ranger’s supporters would make you ashamed to be Scottish.

  24. So Tom what are reasons for these riots?

    Scots need to be told why they are just as much to blame as our English cousins.

  25. With all the cancelled football matches this weekend, will Labour call for Scottish football matches to be cancelled too (just to show our solidarity)?

  26. So, the Westminster government are making monies available to people who’s businesses has been affected by these riots. Will these monies be available to business in Scotland or will it be for solely businesses in England? Whaur’s yer solidarity noo, indeed, Tom?

    1. Assuming its coming from an existing budget (which I guess it is – probably a contigency fund of some sort), then there is nothing stopping the Scottish Government using its own existing funds in a similar way.

      If it is new money, then there will presumably be Barnett consequentials, which likewise could be used.

      Whether the Scottish Government decides to do this, is of course up to it to decide. However, maybe it will just use it as an excuse to bash London.

  27. Alex said “It doesn’t matter what the trigger is, I said it could happen here with the “appropriate” trigger. And it could, as you seem to accept. Or do you think Scots are immune to “having a go at the police” (if that really is the trigger)?”

    But it does matter what the trigger is – cos the trigger almost always the same thing. As I said to Tom, I have lived in London, I was there when the Brixton riots happened and the Broadwater Farm riots – which is just a stones throw away from Tottenham Hale by the way. To that you can add inumerable smaller scale disturbances which did not attract the same media attention. The trigger points were always anger about police brutality.

    The trigger for these most recent riots was the same thing – anger against the police. What has changed of course is the way they spread so fast, which can be explained by 24 hour rolling news, blackberry messenger and other social media. Back in the 1980s people didn’t even have mobile phones. You only found out about things from the papers or scheduled news broadcasts.

    So the main issue is not deprivation etc, it is fundamentally about policing – and what appears to be a failure by the police to maintain law and order. And while I am not saying our police are super-fantastic in every way there is just not the same level of distrust that exists in parts of London. That is why my view would be that a great concentration on sociological issues is over-complexifying something that is not that complicated. The police ought to be able to maintain law and order – and it would also help if they refrained in future from being less than completely transparent after they have shot someone.

  28. How very noble of Scots – Scottish taxpayers money is to be used to compensate victims of English Riots.

    Surely those people who have lost business in Scotland, namely the Scottish tourist industry, should be compensated by the English taxpayer because of the so-called ‘British Riots’.

    Is that not fair?

    1. I must have missed that interview, John. What did Salmond say that was patronising and insulting to England?

      1. He said that we would never have such riots – he also said that he was happy to send police to England because we would never allow such things to happen here. He also was wanting to make it quite clear that these were English riots. In short, he offered no sympathy, no empathy, and was virtually revelling in it. Thats not standing up for Scotland – thats getting one over on England. I might expect that from a crowd at Hampden during a football match – but not from the First Minister.

        The Greeks had a word for it – Hubris. It seems its something the FM has in spades.

    2. You know this is the kind of thing that most people will be reading today and they simply will not understand all the righteous anger on display here.

      “Mr Salmond condemned the violence across the country saying there was no excuse for what he described as the “mayhem and lawlessness and criminality” seen south of the Border.

      Asked by the BBC whether the violence was less likely to happen in Scotland, the First Minister replied: “Yes but we have no complacency about it.” Scotland had “a different society”, he added. “It is important that we present that,” he went on.

      He said: “One of the many frustrations yesterday was to see the events being described on the BBC network and Sky as riots in the UK.

      “Until such time as we do have a riot in Scotland, then what we have seen are riots in London and in English cities. And it is actually unhelpful to see them inaccurately presented, because one of the dangers we face in Scotland is copycat action.”

      He added: “It is important that we try and make the distinction. One of the bright spots in the economy right now is the surge in tourists numbers round Scotland. We don’t want anything to damage that, so it is really important that we remain vigilant both in terms of our policing and our government, and that we see things properly presented, otherwise we will be caught up economically and socially in the backwash of what’s happening south of the Border.”

      To see that as an attack on England or the English just shows that you guys have lost touch with basic common sense. You are so obsessed with the constitutional debate that you see everything through that filter.

    3. How is putting first the interests and jobs of the people and country you were elected to represent patronising and insulting England?

      1. And how was he putting the interests and jobs of Scotland first? by insulting and denigrating England!

        This is the worst type of nationalism – verging on the type of hooliganism we have seen at football matches. Not the behaviour of a First Minister.

        1. Why don’t you try answering the question.

          How has he insulted or denigrated England?

          Time to put up or shut up on this one because you have been asked a number of times now and have failed to answer.

          1. I suppose it depends on whether you find his attitude and demeanor insulting and patronising. If you’re a nationalist, you probably think being smug about peoples homes and businesses being destroyed is standing up for Scotland.

  29. Just as the riots can really only be accurately described as English rather than British or UK-wide, so the wonderful response from people in their communities coming out to clear up their streets, the brave lady in Hackney who stood up in the street and gave the young thugs a real piece of her mind, people standing up to protect their businesses and places of worship, all this is English too, none of it originated in any other part of the UK

    What I find insults and patronises England is the attempts by some to deny the very existance of England. This encompasses everything good and bad about that great nation, our closest neighbour.

  30. David, the reason for the pejorative headline by Tom Harris was the usual – take any chance to insult or denigrate the SNP in any way possible. We should be glad Labour hacks continue to be so negative because that is why the SNP won the last Scottish election so – keep it up, Tom. You could probably learn from the Scotsman which is continuing to depress its sales figures by continually maligning the SNP in any way possible.

  31. Surely sending police south from Scottish forces indicates some kind of solidarity………or is there none so blind as he or she who will not see?

    1. Its not that we havnt sent help – its that its come with the message “we can do this because we’re so great we would never have riots – unlike LONDON!”

      1. You are quite irrational about this you know. But since you object to Alex’s statement that Scotland has a different society and is less prone to rioting can you answer me this – when changes to policing and probably police powers are proposed down south (as they inevitably will be – and Labour will support them) will you be arguing that the same changes should take place in Scotland?

        After all, if the riots can only be understood on a UK wide basis then surely the response must also be UK wide.

        Or, if you don’t want to see Scottish Labour arguing that Scotland should be included in any response to the riots (because there were no riots), how will you be able to square that with your condemnation of Alex Salmond for making that same point?

        Once again I suspect Scottish Labour has failed to think things through.

        1. Indeed.

          Knee-jerk reactions by Westminster politicians to bring forward British solutions for endemic English problems is likely to cause anger and resentment in Scotland.

          Scotland is not part of the problem, but the way that Scots try to resolve their problems may be of benefit to England.

          England can learn from Scotland instead of being equally punished as though we are the same.

          Will the likes of Tom Harris stand up for Scotland in these heated times south of the border, or will he do nothing?

        2. Indy said “Once again I suspect Scottish Labour has failed to think things through.”

          Perhaps because Scottish Labour are controlled by London Labour and all responses must come through them.

          Contributors such as Mr Ruddy have repeatedly distorted Salmonds words and have even substituted their own in their belief that was what he was really saying. It is therefore pointless in engaging in any meaningful discussion with him.

  32. The cringe factor of the Scottish Unionist no longer surprises me. The rank hypocrisy of those same people however never leaves me anything other than astonished. What exactly has happened to the unionist war-cry of “He should concentrate on protecting Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy.”?????
    The FM does this and instead of unionist politicians following suit on behalf of the constituents they claim to represent, they attempt to demonise a FM doing exactly what they said he should be doing!!

    If the FM’s actions and comments (let’s not forget he was asked of his opinions) are to be to be interpreted as ” parochial ” and ” petty ” is it any wonder why the Scottish people are rejecting the Scottish Unionists message in ever increasing numbers?

    For what it’s worth I congratulate the FM for doing exactly what the Scottish people in the main expect. I can only hope the Scottish unionist politicians and activists will likewise one day put the wellfare of the Scottish people ahead of their own ” parochial ” and ” petty ” political agenda.

  33. I’m going to put my wading boots on here, a bit late so no one will probably read this…

    It is pretty sloppy reporting to term the riots in some English cities UK riots, but then brand sectarianism a Scottish problem. Perhaps it alludes to a wider point about identity, at least in terms of media reporting – do people in England think of themselves more as UK citizens than English citizens?

    Salmond’s intervention may have been valid in that the FM needs to protect Scottish interests such as tourism, on which we depend a lot and would be damaged by the negative press. However the tone of his statement was clunky and lacking in compassion. The SNP’s press operation is normally much slicker than that.

    And as for Scottish Labour’s response? I think we were right to point out Salmond’s self interest but the manner in which we did so just came across as harping from the sidelines. There was a clear opportunity for Labour to take the higher ground here by saying, for example, how Scotland can share its lessons learned from tackling sectarianism. Or how it’s obvious that some of the societal problems that caused the riots in England are also present in Scotland (unemployment and lack of aspiration, articulation of self worth in the possession of material goods, the breakdown of family discipline). Therefore we should be focussing on tackling the problem together, again using the different experiences to shine light on the causes. A collaborative, progressive and thoroughly unionist ‘better off together’ tone, rather than just an anti-Salmond tone.

    So I’d say this is more an opportunity lost for Scottish Labour.

    1. Alex Salmond has not made a statement about the riots, he was responding to questions put to him. The only statement anybody in the Scottish Government has made has been in connection with all 8 Scottish police forces sending officers and equipment down to help out.

      If anybody had an expectation that Alex Salmond would make a statement or get involved in the political reaction to the riots I would simply ask – why?

      He is the First Minister of Scotland. His job is to represent the people of Scotland, he has a mandate to speak for them and is accountable to them. He has not been elected by people in England, he does not sit in the UK parliament, he has no mandate and no authority to start making statements about matters which do not come into his remit and quite rightly has avoided pontificating on matters upon which he has no say.

      Also,personally I would find it deeply cringeworthy if the Scottish Government offered to share its wisdom on tackling sectarianism not only because sectarianism is not an issue in London or elsewhere in England but also because we are only in the process of tackling it – it’s not something anybody can claim credit for yet.

      I also think that everybody should refrain from assuming that we know what caused the riots, we can all take a guess but we don’t actually know. However, from what I have seen of the measures which are being proposed now, people in Scotland will not want to be part of a joint solution thank you very much and there is no need for us to start legislating along the same lines as England because we haven’t had any frickin riots!

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