Last year, many commentators tried to make ideological capital out of the curiously inarticulate statements gleaned from participants in the riots that had erupted in a number of English cities in early summer. Extremes of poverty and wealth, police harassment, the closure of youth clubs all no doubt played a part – but it is hard to locate anything that roundly refutes the contention that the rioters were mainly motivated by a combination of greed, nihilism and a taste for recreational violence.

The same could not be said of the wave of riots that broke across the North of England exactly 200 ...


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