(reuters) Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to fix Britain’s “broken society” prompted heckles from a teenage audience in his rural powerbase on Monday, underlining the deep divisions about what caused the country’s worst riots in decades.
In speech at a youth club in the picturesque town of Witney, Oxfordshire, Cameron blamed the trouble on a society where fathers abandon families, gangs flout the law and people refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
But the young audience was unimpressed, heckling the Conservative leader and pointing the finger at public spending cuts, inequality and higher university fees which they fear will widen the gap between society’s haves and have-nots.
“He is blaming everyone but himself,” said Jake Parkinson, 17, unemployed. “The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. I’d love to go to university, but it’s the money that is putting me off.”
Cameron, wearing a crisp white shirt and blue tie and sporting a suntan after a Tuscan holiday cut short by the rioting, stood in front of graffiti portraying two hooded and masked youths striking a gangster pose.
The cartoon-like characters fitted the stereotype of those who took part in four nights of rioting that triggered a bout of soul-searching about the state of British society.
There were whistles when Cameron entered the stuffy, cramped room and “chicken” noises at the end from teenagers who accused him of leaving early and being too scared to answer all of their questions.