Today, a memorandum written by David Cameron’s chief policy advisor Oliver Letwin MP and Hartley Booth was published by the National Archives under the 30 year rule. The memorandum was presented to Margaret Thatcher following the 1985 riots and has sparked widespread condemnation for its offensive racial stereotyping of black communities.
The memorandum read:
‘The root of social malaise is not poor housing, or youth ‘alienation’, or the lack of a middle class…Riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes…So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve the inner cities will flounder’
It also rejected arguments to fund black entrepreneurs, stating that the money would only go to the ‘disco and drug trade.’
Kate Osamor MP says:
“The views expressed by Letwin and Booth were baseless and ridden with disgusting stereotypes.
They show a total disconnect from reality; there is no mention of the awful relations between black youth and the police, which were the real cause of the unrest.
They also show a total disregard for the government’s social responsibility.
It appals me that a person with such views held, and continues to hold, such influence in government.
Oliver Letwin’s comments have exposed not only his own racist and regressive views, but have made us rightly question the proximity of the current government to this legacy. It is significant that David Cameron dismissed the 2011 riots on similar grounds of individual bad behaviour, rather than social unrest.
Investing in communities back then would have been the right answer. And it is still desperately needed now. We need to develop a more holistic approach to tackling social unrest.”