East's MPs share their anger over riots

Chloe Smith made it back but didn't have time to go home to Norwich to collect her Commons pass.

Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk) also made it but had to get up very early, while John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) tried but didn't succeed.

From the beaches of France, the fjords of Scandinavia and various locations in the United States, many of the eastern region's MPs returned to a rainy Westminster for the first proper recall of Parliament in nine years.

And there was a lot of anger:

"If these riots had broken out in any city or town in Australia or America, the police would have had at their instant disposal water cannon, plastic bullets and tear gas," declared the Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries.

Spraying rioters

Andrea Leadson (South Northamptonshire) had another idea:

"Are the police considering other things, such as spraying indelible chemical dye on rioters, so that they can identify them and pick them up the following day?" she asked.

Her neighbour Philip Hollobone (Kettering) suggested parents should be held responsible by the courts for the behaviour of their children, while Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said it was time the coalition stuck to its promise to recognise marriage in the tax system.

Many MPs wanted to talk about the role of social networking sites in the riots. Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) complained that "the police had to waste considerable time dealing with false and malicious rumours about mob activity".

While Julian Huppert (Cambridge) wanted to draw attention to the role played by Twitter users in organising clean-up campaigns and dispelling rumours.

"Clamping down on social media could have damaging consequences," he warned the prime minister.

Even though the east escaped most of the trouble, there were still some places which witnessed violence.

"I'm appalled by the scenes of raw and naked criminality," said Michael Ellis, MP for Northampton North. "It was greed and gross misconduct on the part of a relatively small number of people. It was deeply disturbing to residents and shopkeepers."

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries advocated water cannon and plastic bullets

"I think this is thuggery pure and simple," Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) later told us. "This is not down to poverty or deprivation. This is people who think they can get something for nothing."

"Across society we need to make it clear that there is a difference between right and wrong. It means better discipline in schools, it means parents taking responsibility for their children and we've all got to take a look at ourselves; we live in a society of instant gratification where we get things we want straight away."

Better discipline

Some Labour MPs are starting to talk about the cuts being responsible but Gavin Shuker (Luton South) is clear.

"These riots were not about the cuts," but he added that the cuts had contributed to a sense of a lack of hope.

"I do think that we're going to have to watch this carefully and ask those questions going forward over the next few years as the cuts start to bite."

This recall of Parliament was really about condemning those responsible, but the debate about why the riots happened will go on for many months.

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