London quiet, but riots spread to other cities

Not quite a "long, hot summer" but the unrest in British cities continues to be a problem for Prime Minister David Cameron.


Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday "a fight back is under way" to restore law and order to Britain's streets but rioting, looting and arson by gangs of youths spread from London to other cities overnight.

Youths fought running battles with police in the northern cities of Manchester and Liverpool as well as in the Midlands.

They smashed shop windows, carted off televisions and designer clothes, and torched buildings as police armed with shields and batons struggled to maintain control.

A boosted police presence meant London itself was relatively quiet after three days of violent unrest that shocked the nation and raised questions about the divided state of modern Britain.

About 16,000 police officers patrolled London's streets on Tuesday night but with shops, pubs and businesses in many areas closing early and boarding up windows, the city which hosts the Olympic games next summer, had the air of a town under siege.

There has been an attempt by the left to link the riots to government spending cuts while the effort on the right is to portray the rioters as youths spoiled by not having to work due to generous welfare benefits.

It may be a little of both, but I doubt people are thinking about government cutbacks when running off with a TV. This is hooliganism pure and simple, demanding a strong police response to tamp it down. We'll see how Cameron's efforts to get control of the major cities fares over the next few days.