Gutless, spineless and clueless – not just the rioters but our so-called leaders and the Metropolitan Police, who failed to reassure us or make us feel safe. 

Gutless, spineless and clueless – not just the rioters but our so-called leaders and the Metropolitan Police, who failed to reassure us or make us feel safe. 

It is irrelevant who arrived back when from their holiday, or how much of an arse Hazel Blears made of herself when she asked why the looters were not in school in August. They just all made so little impact.

Boris Johnson, David Camer-on, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and the Met looked lost and ill-prepared. Most people wanted water cannons, rubber bullets or the army to be deployed.

Sam Duckworth, Mohammed Ashraf Haziq, Pauline Pearce and Tariq Jahan became household names last week. The musician, student, jazz-singing grandmother and  father became internet sensations because they stood for calm, order and what is right at a time when our high streets were falling into chaos. Sam brought people together, turning Clapham, Harry Potter-style, into an alternative reality, with hundreds taking to the streets with brooms to clean up their neighbourhoods.

Mohammed was the student who lay bleeding in the street only to be mugged by those who pretended to be helping him. Pauline stood in front of the looters in Hackney and shouted about how disgraced she was. Tariq spoke publicly to the press after his son had died in his arms in Birmingham and asked for calm, for no retaliations. These are the people who stand out as brave and inspirational amid the hideous attacks. 

We still have great leaders in retail such as Lord Harris of Peckham, the chief executive of Carpetright – whose Tottenham store was destroyed in the riots – who has done more for inner cities with his schools than many politicians. Sir Terry Leahy and Sir Philip Green both worked up from next to nothing. We can only hope that no more of the younger generation will turn their noses up at stacking shelves in favour of ransacking them, failing to see that retail and its leaders can provide jobs, security and a real career.

The message, sadly, is not getting through and our belief in our leaders’ ability to convey it is shaky at best.

  • Jamie Zuppinger, Co-founder and joint managing director, Barracuda Search

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