August 2011 riots: reading the analyses: 24th August 2011: Paul Lewis, James Ball & Josh Halliday comment

by Julia Evans on August 24, 2011

My reason for commenting is to investigate what frameworks the various actors are using on this stage.  I started by commenting on a ft article (Principles based in trust and relationships versus Sadeian absolute control or available here) which explains the difference in how the police operate, the assumptions underlying their actions made. I have also posted here a method of dealing with gangs of youths in Glasgow which works (What works – tackling out-of-limits destruction and violence by Julia Evans on August 14, 2011 or here). And an comment by Giles Fraser of how the Army trains ethical decision making in the stress of being under fire – This pace of moral decision-making poses insuperable challenges to several ways of thinking about right and wrong…. Giles Fraser by Julia Evans on January 20, 2012 or here .

My question starts from a quotation of Giles Fraser: ‘Witnessing to the humanity of the other is the place where all moral reasoning must begin. It is about having the moral courage to speak out, irrespective of personal cost. And the basic structure of this witness, for religious and non-religious alike, is to point to a bruised and broken body with a version of these words: Ecce Homo. This person is human too.’ ( See here for full reference: Witnessing to the humanity of the other is the place where all moral reasoning must begin: The Revd Canon Giles Fraser by Julia Evans on September 16, 2011 or here

So how do commentators and politicians compare when this exacting standard is applied?

So what is going on underneath this lot…..

The politicians response to the riots:

Quoted from: Series: Reading the riots

Reading the riots, Investigating England’s summer of disorder.

Twitter study casts doubts on ministers’ post-riots plan

Analysis of tweets during recent unrest appears to undermine the case for banning people from social networks

Interactive: Twitter traffic during the riots  by Paul Lewis, James Ball and Josh Halliday Published:, Wednesday 24 August 2011 and available here


Analysis of tweets during recent unrest appears to undermine the case for banning people from social networks Riots database shows complex interaction

Analysis of more than 2.5m Twitter messages relating to the riots in England has cast doubt on the rationale behind government proposals to ban people from social networks or shut down their websites in times of civil unrest.

A preliminary study of a database of riot-related tweets, compiled by the Guardian, appears to show Twitter was mainly used to react to riots and looting.

Timing trends drawn from the data question the assumption that Twitter played a widespread role in inciting the violence in advance, an accusation also levelled at the rival social networks Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger.

The unique database contains tweets about the riots sent throughout the disorder, which began in Tottenham, north London, on 6 August. It also reveals how extensively Twitter was used to co-ordinate a movement by citizens to clean the streets after the disorder. More than 206,000 tweets – 8% of the total – related to attempts to clean up the debris left by four nights of rioting and looting.

David Cameron had previously indicated he would contemplate more restrictive measures. The day after the riots subsided, the prime minister told parliament the government was looking at banning people from using sites such as Twitter and Facebook if they were thought to be plotting criminal activity. Cameron said the government would do “whatever it takes” to restore order, adding that a review was under way to establish whether it would be right to attempt to prevent rioters from using social networks. He said he had also asked police if they needed new powers.

The Metropolitan police later revealed it had considered switching off social networks during the disorder in London, but had decided not to on legal advice.


So the Government’s first reaction is to criminalise everyone who uses Twitter on no evidence whatsoever.

It then acts on its knee-jerk reaction and decides to ban it.

In reality, most people are using Twitter to coordinate clean-up operations.

This pattern mirrors what is happening in Mental Health, Education, Policing and elsewhere. The Government acts to control the population committing crimes and to protect… The reality is that the population is very busy networking within relationships of trust to offer help.

I have been speaking of this gap for, probably 10 years. Maybe the Murdoch scandal will start politicians thinking…..