Islington People’s Panel: Is Britain broken?

In the wake of some of the worst violence the country has ever seen, David Cameron once again wheeled out the idea that society in Britain is “broken”.

And he went one further, saying: “There are pockets of our society that are not just broken but, frankly, sick.” He added: “The root cause of this mindless selfishness is the same thing that I have spoken about for years. It is a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society.”

So with mending “broken Britain” now at the top of the Prime Minister’s agenda, reporter Tom Marshall went to Nag’s Head, Holloway, to ask: Is he right to say parts of Britain are broken or sick? And if so, is Islington one of them?

Nancy Osmond, 61, of Moriatry Close, Holloway, who is retired, said: “He’s just being political. He just wants to get re-elected by saying the country’s broken and he will fix it. I think the riots had as many causes as there were people rioting. I don’t think Islington is broken – I think it’s rather good. And I don’t think Britain is either, although some individuals might be.”

Danute Sipientyte, a retired 64-year-old, of Papworth Gardens, Holloway, said: “It’s not actually broken. What does that even mean? But I think he is right when he talks about people’s morals being broken. And parts of the country are sick. I think the riots are a result of many years of the policy that children should have only fun. Children need to have more discipline.”


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Elisa Hunter, 20, a new mother, of Hazellville Road, Hornsey Rise, said: “I don’t think Islington is broken. The area’s improving, certainly where I live. The council are doing a lot for it now. It’s a good place to live and is a lot safer than it used to be. I think the root of the riots was frustration. People can hardly survive and they are frustrated with cuts.”

Moses Francis, 49, a mechanic, who lives in North Road, Holloway, said: “I don’t know if Islington is broken. I have been living here for 20 years and it seems fine to me. I didn’t hear about any problems around here during the riots. They didn’t affect me, so I can’t see why Britain is broken either.”

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Martin Reeves, 44, a groundsman, of Hilldrop Crescent, Holloway, said: “Society is gone, it’s broken. I blame the government. They all live in luxury houses, and let the people that vote for them suffer in slums. I don’t agree with the rioting, but I can understand it. Islington is broken because there’s just nothing for young people to do. Nobody cares anymore.”

Mark Andre, 25, a musician who lives in Camden Road, Camden Town, said: “I’m surprised by what Cameron has been saying. I think it’s over the top and it’s damaging for him to say that. I’m French, and we had the same thing five years ago. It’s about the youth feeling that they have been forgotten.”

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