On Sunday night I stood in Enfield and saw rioters in normally peaceful streets. That is something I have never witnessed first hand.
When watching the TV screens the following Monday was even worse. Indeed, in my own constituency for the second night we watched with despair the massive Sony warehouse in the North East of my constituency burn to ashes.
I make no bones about this. We stand at a turning point. this is defining moment.
People of all political views and none are united in their belief that the rioting, burning and random acts of criminality that are happened are wrong. We politicians have a duty to be on the side of those law-biding people.
Because those law-abiding people in Enfield, Tottenham and elsewhere are the people who are losing most with this breach of civil society.
To my mind, that means two things.
First, we need to support the Police. And we need to give them the confidence to act as they feel they need to. And that is something that has been undermined over recent years. Parliament can send a very strong signal today as a start by backing our police and endorsing a robust approach for the future where appropriate.
For too long, they have felt held back by criticism from taking the operational decisions that are needed. We need to give them the confidence to do the right thing, and yes, that means taking the risk of mistakes as we confront law-breaking.
Secondly, we need to institutionalise the will of the law-abiding majority. We need to press ahead with accountability for police chiefs -not to recoil from it. The programme our party set out in opposition was the right one. Accountable police, aware of local priorities, reacting to local views. That has always been the right thing to do. Now, it is an urgent thing to do.
Tom Brake MP has suggested today we don’t press ahead. I believe he is wrong because now is exactly the time for our party to reclaim its heritage on law and order. it is the right thing to do. Because it is the only thing to do not to let down the people, their homes and businesses. As lives are being devastated we have the chance to do the right thing as we shape the future police force from the ashes of the last week.