In addition to Kay Burley, further evidence that Sky News has now been fully converted into a parody of itself scripted by Christopher Morris came in the form of Thursdays live debate: Why are they rioting? Fortunately for the viewer, Sky had done most of the thinking for them. The entire spectrum of socio-economic and psychological factors that may have been contributed had been whittled down to two binary choices: Protest or Greed.
Viewers were made to choose between the two, and the results presented in the traditional hypnotic as-they-get-them-the-line-changes format typical of meaningless television polls. David Aaronovitch’s argument that dismissing the riots solely as being the product of greed inherent to “chav scum” who need to be punished is to willingly ignore the institutional damage inflicted on two generations of inner city kids and an ill-considered knee-jerk reaction that can only serve to disenfranchise them further and increase the chance of such violence reoccurring did appear logical and was supported by facts.
But the definitive answer, it turned out, was greed, which cleared everything up nicely.
However, my contentment lasted only until Saturday when Channel 4′s The Riots: The Live Debate cast everything into doubt.
Anyone who had seen or read no coverage of the riots other than the debate could be forgiven for thinking that Britain had descended into a full scale race war, the likes of which had been prophesied by Enoch Powell and fantasized about by Prince Harry. Angry white men in suits condemned acts of criminality with varying degrees of, but never complete, coherence whilst angry black men in track suits condemned the lack of opportunity and social mobility for black kids with varying degrees of coherence.
The majority in the audience who wished to make a point that wasn’t polarized one way or the other were quickly and rudely quietened by Krishnan Guru-Murthy in favor of someone less reasonable but livid. Ultimately, no firm conclusions were reached. I did learn that Iain Duncan-Smith does look uncomfortable when being shouted at by a black youth. The show was also worthwhile and entertaining solely because of this.