British PM rails against 'moral collapse' in wake of riots

15th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron was Monday to begin the government's fightback against the "moral collapse" which he believes precipitated the country's worst civil disorder in a generation.

The prime minister, who was at the weekend embroiled in a heated row with police after promising a "zero tolerance" response to the unprecedented riots, was to vow that he "would not be found wanting" in his mission to "mend our broken society".

"This has been a wake-up call for our country," Cameron was to declare.

"We know what's gone wrong: the question is... do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations?" he was to ask.

The Conservative party leader, a transcript of whose remarks was released in advance, was to blame "irresponsibility, selfishness, children without fathers, schools without discipline, reward without effort and rights without responsibilities" for the four days of rioting and looting.

Police chiefs on Sunday criticised Cameron's decision to hire ex-New York police supremo Bill Bratton in a bid to prevent a repeat of the violence in which five people died, saying a home-grown policy would be better.

"We haven't talked the language of zero tolerance enough, but the message is getting through," Cameron told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The PM was Monday to accuse the state and its agencies of tolerating, indulging and incentivising "some of the worst aspects of human nature" over many decades.

"In my very first act as leader of this party I signalled my personal priority: to mend our broken society," he was to say. "I can assure you, I will not be found wanting."

Cameron and his ministers will review policies on schools, welfare, parenting and drug addiction in an effort to "mend our broken society".

The leader was also to address the "twisting and misrepresenting of human rights" and the "obsession with health and safety" which he claims has eroded a sense of civic duty.

In a rival speech, opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband was to accuse Cameron of ill-thought out responses to the chaos.

"A new policy a day, knee-jerk gimmicks unveiled without being properly thought through are unlikely to solve the problem," he was to say in an address at his old London school.

"The usual politicians' instinct -- announce a raft of new legislation, appoint a new adviser, wheel out your old prejudices and shallow answers -- will not meet the public's demand.

"Nor should we engage in finger-pointing at the police and claim these huge problems of irresponsibility and opportunity go no further than what is seen as an underclass," he was to conclude.

More than 2,140 people have now been arrested in connection with the riots, which swept through London and other major English cities after a protest against the death of a man in a police shooting turned violent last Saturday.

© 2011 AFP

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