08/08/2011 14:07 BST | Updated 08/10/2011 06:12 BST

These Are Not Race Riots, Says Demos

The Tottenham riot and subsequent outbreaks of looting are not the products of racial tensions, a leading researcher has told The Huffington Post.

According to Max Wind-Cowie, head of the Progressive Conservatism Project at the left-leaning think-tank Demos, the riots are more a product of cultural inequality. In short, how people are brought up.

“This is just unchecked anti-social behaviour,” says Wind-Cowie. “And it’s not localised to London. A feature of many deprived communities in the UK is a poor level of parenting, which manifests itself as mistrust towards authority. The only way to get round this is by instilling proper values in children.

“There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to run to race to ascribe blame. This is not about race at all. The rioters themselves are not uniformly black or Asian, but they do have commonalities. As David Lamie [MP for Tottenham] pointed out, the vast majority of people came from outside Tottenham. It was petty criminal gangs.

“Relations between police and the black community have improved immeasurably over the past 15 years. It’s about young people raised with contempt for authority.

“This contempt then spreads to the community, who resent the criminals, then begin to resent the police who they perceive as only being around when something major happens.

Wind-Cowie is equally clear on the best way to deal with the problem:

“It won’t be solved by ringing hands about whether there are enough youth clubs. The Police need to target the anti-social behaviour that has been escalating in everyday life.”