Blog post

Owen Jones and Starkeygate: "It was Enoch Powell meets Alan Partridge"

Josh Oldham15 August 2011

Historian David Starkey has provoked controversy following his Friday appearance on Newsnight, in which he suggested that Britain's recent riots were in part caused by an adoption and integration of "black culture" amongst the white working class.

Owen Jones, author of Chavs and fellow guest on Newsnight along with Dreda Say Mitchell, described Starkey's offensive opinions as "Enoch Powell meets Alan Partridge." In an article for the New Statesman following the experience, Jones continues the debate:

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation completed an extensive study into gangs: I doubt Starkey has read it. It found that there was a strong link between "territorial behaviour" and poorer communities. Gangs could provide some young people with fun, excitement and support they otherwise lacked. It "appeared for some to be a product of deprivation, a lack of opportunities and attractive activities, limited aspirations and an expression of identity", as well as a "coping mechanism" for those living in poverty.

It's nothing to do with ethnicity, in other words. It's to do with poverty.

The controversy surrounding Starkey's interview has spawned numerous parody videos online - our favourite being this rap version of his Newsnight diatribe. Really, David Starkey of all people should know about the dangers of hip hop...

Visit BBC iPlayer to watch the debate in full, or watch a clip on YouTube.

Visit New Statesman to read Owen Jones' article about the event.

Selected parody videos can be found here, here, and here.

Filed under: articles, broadcast, riots