Ryan Florence might not be the sharpest tool in the box and he may not have known who David Cameron was, but his mock shooting gave the Sun all it needed to ensure the Tory leader’s much derided ‘hug a hoodie’ campaign (he actually said they should be shown ‘a lot more love’) is holed below the waterline. It’s a classic front page.
Yet there is a bigger tragedy here. Mocking Cameron is the easy option and while it does good by undermining his leadership of the Conservative Party, it also makes it difficult to sensibly address the social problems of places like Wythenshawe, where the incident took place. Kids like Ryan Florence are very much products of a sub-culture that has done nothing to encourage them to think beyond where they find themselves today.
Cameron was right to try to move the debate towards understanding this and how the kids’ worldview might be undermined in the long term and replaced with something positive. But he forgot that understanding is all too often confused with excusing and that we’re right to refuse to excuse crime. There is nothing in calling for hoodies to be shown ‘a lot more love’ that makes us think the Tories would create real opportunities for kids to change.