Monday, August 22, 2011
Blair-Cameron Argument Not Really an Argument
"The greed and thuggery we saw during the riots did not come out of nowhere, there are deep problems in our society that have been growing for a long time: a decline in responsibility, a rise in selfishness, a growing sense that individual rights come before anything else."
Of course it's easy to take the 'moral crusade' line when you don't want to spend any more money. One is reminded of the old saw, 'Fine words butter no parsnips'. Blair on the other hand argues that this 'trashes our reputation abroad':
ritain, as a whole, is not in the grip of some general 'moral decline'," Blair wrote. Young people now were generally more respectable, more responsible and more hard-working than they were when he was young, he said.
"Instead, the rioting was mainly caused by "the group of young, alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour". Blair said that his government developed specific policies to deal with these people and that they required intervention "literally family by family and at an early stage, even before any criminality had occurred".
Well, it seems obvious to me that both approaches are correct and necessary, but the most sensible one, likely to deliver results, is the Blair analysis. I heard a columnist, Jo Phillips, rubbish Blair's intervention as 'all about me, me, me.' which I think is unfair. Blair was very concerned about about anti-social behaviour and it's natural he should want to say something about it after the riots. In any case Cameron had already pledged to use intervention to 'improve the lives of 120,000 problem families by 2015.
Another shrewd analysis is offered by Jackie Ashley today when she wonders if the riots have not pushed a natural middle roader, like Cameron, into a more Thatcherite direction? She cites a 'triple whammy' attack upon social stability:
"There is a squeeze and a crack-down on the poorest – many, I admit, now culturally hostile to work and social order. Meanwhile, we are cutting government spending radically, and at the same time we face economic stagnation. This is an awesome triple whammy. It has an ugly potential to further divide us, and it is going to dominate the rest of the life of the coalition."