Cameron puts riots down to moral collapse

DAVID Cameron yesterday pledged to put the “broken society” back at the top of the coalition’s agenda, as he sought to flesh out the government’s response to the worst riots seen in Britain for generations.

The Prime Minister, who was speaking in his Witney constituency, promised a “social fightback” to revitalise communities and said he aspired to improve the lives of the “120,000 most troubled families in the country” by the end of the parliament.

Cameron said a breakdown in family values, bad parenting, poor standards in schools and a welfare system that rewards the idle were to blame for a “slow-motion moral collapse”.

All domestic policy will need to pass a “family test”, Cameron said, adding “if it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keep people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it”.

The “broken society” theme has taken a back seat in recent months, as the government turned its attention to reviving the anaemic economic recovery and repairing the parlous public finances.

It was also shelved because the remedy for a “broken society” – the “big society” – failed to win supporters among the electorate or on the Conservative back benches. Yesterday’s speech contained no mention of the “big society”.

Cameron also gave his backing to plans to strip convicted rioters of their benefits, a stance that will earn plaudits on the Conservative backbenches but cause unease among some Liberal Democrats.

Meanwhile, he scotched suggestions he revisit plans to cut the police budget, insisting the UK would always have enough officers to “scale up” to deal with riots like those seen last week.