To do any justice to the response to Tony Blair’s article in the Sunday Observer I decided to enclose the whole of the content. See below:
Tony Blair has launched a fierce attack on widespread claims that this summer’s riots showed that British society is in “moral decline”. The former prime minister warns that rash talk of a broken society threatens to harm the country’s reputation abroad.
While admitting that he was guilty of a similar reaction to the murder of two- year-old Jamie Bulger in 1993, he calls for the government not to play politics with the crisis and mounts an impassioned defence of Labour’s legacy after 13 years in power.
Writing in the Observer, in his first public verdict on the riots, Blair says: “In 1993, following the Bulger case, I made a case in very similar terms to the one being heard today about moral breakdown inBritain. I now believe that speech was good politics but bad policy. Focus on the specific problem and we can begin on a proper solution.
“Elevate this into a highfalutin wail about a Britain that has lost its way morally and we will depress ourselves unnecessarily, trash our own reputation abroad, and worst of all, miss the chance to deal with the problem in the only way that will work.”
During a speech on Monday, David Cameron said that he was determined to tackle a “slow-motion moral collapse” inBritainand mend the country’s “broken society”. He attacked the influence of human rights legislation and claimed that some of the worst aspects of human nature had been “tolerated, indulged – sometimes even incentivised – by a state and its agencies that in parts have become literally demoralised”.
But in a rare intervention into British politics since he leftDowning Street, Blair defends the society Labour helped to build and says he believes this generation is more respectable, responsible and hard-working than his own.
While commending parts of both Cameron’s and Labour leader Ed Miliband’s speeches, in a thinly veiled attack on the prime minister, he adds: “I think we are in danger of the wrong analysis leading to the wrong diagnosis, leading to the wrong prescription”.
Amid tensions between Downing Streetand Scotland Yard over the early handling of the riots, Blair also calls for the government to support the police. “The police need to know they have strong support,” he writes. “They need to feel it from politicians and public alike.”
He also rails against the “muddled thinking” of those on both the left and the right who, he claims, “miss the point” about the cause of the riots two weeks ago.
Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, says that neither social deprivation nor a lack of personal responsibility is at the root of the problem. Instead, he says,Britain, like “virtually all” developed nations, needs to deal with a group of people who are beyond the pale.
“The big cause is the group of alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour. And here’s where I simply don’t agree with much of the commentary. In my experience they are an absolutely specific problem that requires a deeply specific solution.
“The left says they’re victims of social deprivation, the right says they need to take personal responsibility for their actions; both just miss the point. A conventional social programme won’t help them; neither – on its own – will tougher penalties.
“The key is to understand that they aren’t symptomatic of society at large. Failure to get this leads to a completely muddle-headed analysis of what has gone wrong.Britainas a whole is not in the grip of some general ‘moral decline’.”
He adds: “This is a hard thing to say, and I am of course aware that this too is generalisation. But the truth is that many of these people are from families that are profoundly dysfunctional, operating on completely different terms from the rest of society, either middle class or poor.
“This is a phenomenon of the late 20th century. You find it in virtually every developed nation. Breaking it down isn’t about general policy or traditional programmes of investment or treatment.”
Blair writes that at the end of his time in government he realised that the solution was intervention family by family, a reform of criminal justice around antisocial behaviour, organised crime, persistent offenders and gangs.
But in a dig directed towards Gordon Brown, his successor in 10 Downing Street, he adds: “The agenda that came out of this was conceived in my last years of office, but it had to be attempted against a constant backdrop of opposition, left and right, on civil liberty grounds and on the basis we were ‘stigmatising’ young people.
“After I’d left, the agenda lost momentum. But the papers and the work are all there.”
My instinct is of:
1) I have to say that I have never been a hugh fan of Tony Blair but I still have to give the respect that he deserves in the history of the Labour Party. No other leader of the party has won a third term in office with this I can give him the credit for.
2) Blair is right by saying that the coalition govt should not play the blame game of broken society but instead that the three main political parties must find solutions that will take into account of young voices.
3) I’m glad that Tony Blair has finally admitted that that there is a danger of the wrong analysis leading to the diagnosis, leading to the wrong prescription like the example of the Bulger case and using language like moral breakdown in Britain. He now believes that the speech was good politics but bad policy.
4) I can concur that Tony Blair has made a right judgment with reference to focus on the specific problems and we can begin on a proper solution.
5) As painful as it maybe there were reports of a police responding to a incident in the area and it turned out the police may have shot a innocent person who may have been a passinger in a taxi. Some say it may have been grounds of race whether that is true or not it should have looked into. I am not saying it is the case but it is worth looking into.
6) The second part is the Duggan Family of the deceased decided that they wanted some answers on what grounds their son died and had organised a peaceful demonstration. Unfortunately the police did not respond to the demonstrators demands which lead to some rogue elements decided to take the matter into their own hands in the wake of the four days of rioting not just in London but in West Midlands, and north of The UK.
7) Until the three main political parties address the root causes of why the riots began no amount of talking will accomplish anything.
8) Ed Miliband is right to call for a independent enquiry and asked that it reports back to Parliament but it must be a meaningful of addressing the root causes of the riots.
9) Let’s not forget the Scarman Report http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarman_report which highlight the root cause of the riots and put on the back-burner. Stephen Lawrence Inquiry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Stephen_Lawrence which also mentioned the root causes of the police behavior. Things have moved on since with relationships with communities with the presence of police working in partnership with local communities.
10) I am not saying that it is the case of a race but let me be clear that there are some community leaders who are saying this on the quite. During the riots that took place was a mixture of race with an agenda to case maximum damages to businesses and homes by either looting or burning it to the ground.
11) So far it has been reported that between 3-5 people died in the riots that spread around the UK. It takes courage of parents of a dead sons to call for clam and allow the police to carry out the investigations.
12) When cheap shots are taken by well known politicians and the press it does not go down well in all communities and when the police have a hard task to deal with ie cuts in public services.
13) To date many in the community have seen closures of youth services and the lack of role models instead few youths are more into music that promotes gangsters those sort of music has no place in our society.