A senior advisor to David Cameron has apologised for 'racist' comments made in a government memo in the wake of the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots.

  • A newly-released document from the National Archives, written by Oliver Letwin, advisor to Margaret Thatcher at the time, and future Tory MP Vernon Hartley Booth, urged the prime minister to ignore claims that racism and social deprivation were the root cause of rioting in mainly black inner city areas

  • The authors wrote that white people were less likely to turn to disorder, increased funding in black communities would only lead to investment in "discos and drugs", and the cause of rioting was "bad moral attitudes"

  • In a follow-up paper from the Downing Street policy unit, Booth attacked plans for a £10m communities programme, saying it would do little more than "subsidise Rastafarian arts and crafts workshops"

The root of social malaise is not poor housing, or youth 'alienation', or the lack of a middle class...

Lower-class, unemployed white people lived for years in appalling slums without a breakdown of public order on anything like the present scale... Riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes. So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve the inner cities will founder

Extracts from the five-page memo; underlined passages are said to be Margaret Thatcher's markings (Picture: PA handout)
  • Members of the Labour Party including Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, called on Letwin to apologise for the "disgusting and appalling" attitudes in the memo, which Letwin has done "unreservedly"

  • The Tory senior advisor, who has been at the heart of government for three decades, has just been appointed by David Cameron to head a review into Britain’s flood protection

  • Letwin said on Wednesday that some parts of the private memo were "badly worded and wrong"

  • The Broadwater Farm violence occurred after the death of Tottenham resident Cynthia Jarrett who died of heart failure when police broke into her home on 5th October 1985. Ensuing riots led to the death of PC Keith Blakelock, who was stabbed 43 times

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