Riots – some views from abroad

I have been abroad for the last two weeks and, in that time, a topic of discussion has been the riots and looting.  What has gone wrong in England?  But the comments have not been about the behaviour of the rioters.  Nobody understands it yet and opinion is not really helpful.  Rather, the sense that something has changed in England was prompted more by coverage of some of the harsh sentences being passed.  In particular, the sentences for receiving goods stolen during the riots or those for the futile efforts to incite riot in Warrington have created a strange image of the country.  From abroad, it seems we have lost all sense of proportion.  Is England in the grip of a repressive regime, I am asked.  It certainly looks like it from here.

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