DAVID Cameron was brisk and businesslike in his brief statement following yesterday morning's meeting of the government's emergency committee which he chaired. He made all the necessary points about the raw criminality of the riots and was able to report a dramatically improved response by announcing that the number of police in London last night would rise from 6'000 to 16'000.
Beyond that there was little that he could say until much more is known about the degree of coordination of the rioters and about those who may be master-minding them.
Whether by accident or design the rioters struck at a moment when London's leadership in government and the security services was in a parlously low condition -- the police lacking an appointed Commissioner, the three or four key ministers absent simultaneously and the Mayor of London also out of town.
The prime minister will face an anxious and potentially critical House of Commons tomorrow when it assembles for an exceptional emergency debate. At the back of everyone's minds will be the effect that these riots will have on foreign opinion, especially in relation to the Olympics due to take place in exactly one year's time. Boris Johnson's rejoinder to a heckler yesterday that the Olympics will be fine because there was no trouble at the Royal Wedding is the very kind of sloppy thinking that must immediately be rejected.