A Return to "Public Morality" and "Personal Responsibility" will Turn Around Britain's Social Collapse: Tory LeaderIn order to avoid injury to people's feelings, in order to avoid appearing judgemental, we have failed to say what needs to be said.
By Hilary White
GLASGOW, July 10, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com ) - In a seminal speech on Monday, David Cameron, the leader of Britain's opposition Conservative Party, laid out a new, direction in Tory policy towards addressing the ongoing moral breakdown of society, which he said is a cause of its social breakdown.
"I want a mandate for restoring responsibility to our society. A mandate to call time on the twisted values that have eaten away at our social fabric. A mandate for tough action to repair our broken society."
Cameron, speaking to a Conservative party audience in Glasgow, said the deeper cause of Britain's "family breakdown, welfare dependency, debt, drugs, poverty, poor policing, inadequate housing, and failing schools" is a "society that is in danger of losing its sense of personal responsibility, social responsibility, common decency and, yes, even public morality."
Cameron's Tories would put an end to the prevailing political trend of "moral neutrality," he indicated. While politicians themselves may be fallible, he said, this is no reason to abandon the concept of moral life and "social virtue" in political life.
"We as a society have been far too sensitive. In order to avoid injury to people's feelings, in order to avoid appearing judgemental, we have failed to say what needs to be said. We have seen a decades-long erosion of responsibility, of social virtue, of self-discipline, respect for others, and deferring gratification instead of instant gratification."
"Instead we prefer moral neutrality, a refusal to make judgments about what is good and bad behaviour, right and wrong behaviour. Bad. Good. Right. Wrong. These are words that our political system and our public sector scarcely dare use any more."
"Poverty, crime, social disorder and deprivation...are steadily making this country a grim and joyless place to live for far too many people."
Cameron said that the Glasgow East by-election, which he called the "broken society" by-election, was the time to decisively call for an end to Labour's socialist policies.
Glasgow East is a riding where, Cameron said, "welfare dependency is so bad, half the adults are on out of work benefits," which, he said, is merely "an extreme version of what you can see everywhere." As such, it is a fitting place for his announcement that a Tory government would work to reverse the trend by bringing back the idea of personal responsibility and self-reliance on a national level.
"Welfare dependency," he said "is now a crisis for the whole country."
Families, Cameron said, are the "most important area of all" in the fight against poverty. He said that the Tories will "take action not just to support marriage and family stability, but on business too, to make Britain more family-friendly."
A Tory government would reorient welfare to aim at getting people back to work. "We need to end the idea that the state gives you money for nothing," he said. "If you can work, you must work. We will insist on it, and believe me, we will stick to our guns when the going gets tough."
Information released recently from the government showed that the current system of welfare, or "benefits," pays more if the father is not present, leading to accusations that the system itself tends to break up families and leave children without fathers.
Reactions from the pundits have been cautiously positive and some have said that Cameron's appeal to such "recently unfashionable" themes as personal responsibility and morality will "strike a chord" with British voters who are connecting the rise in crime and social and moral disorder with the ten years of Labour party rule.
Reaction on the left was predictable. Kevin Maguire, writing for the Daily Mirror, the only newspaper in Britain known to have supported the Labour party throughout its history, called Cameron's call for greater personal responsibility in British life "grotesque."
That Cameron chose economically depressed Glasgow East - a by-election the Tories cannot possibly win - as the test for his call merely proved, Maguire said, that "he has a callous brass neck in flying into one of the most deprived parts of Britain to accuse locals of creating social problems that have existed for decades."
But the Independent called the choice of location "a smart move" and said that "David Cameron knew exactly what he was doing".
"The gritty urban backdrop of Monday's speech provided the most graphic illustration to date of how successfully Mr Cameron has managed to seize the initiative on social policy from Labour."
Melanie Philips, writing on her weblog at the Spectator website, said that Cameron has successfully "decontaminated the Tory brand." The party can no longer be "painted as hatchet-faced bigots who would starve the feckless while kicking them into the gutter."
Cameron, she said, "is picking up on a change in the public mood - one of widespread utter dismay at the prevailing amorality and nihilism" that has been promoted by the militantly hard left Labour party.
James MacMillan, writing for the Daily Telegraph, said that Cameron's appeal to traditional morality had also hit the right notes to lure away the Labour party's own traditional voter base, especially in Scotland. "Lifestyle liberalism has never played particularly well with the moral and social conservatives who make up a large section of Labour's traditional working-class and urban voters," he said.
"The recent parliamentary votes that defeated amendments to ban human-animal embryos, the creation of 'saviour siblings', and to reduce the abortion time limit did not go down well in places such as Glasgow East."It remains to be seen, however, if Cameron's statements represent his real views and whether he can be counted on to follow through and actually implement and vote for pro-family and pro-morality measures. Last year the Tory leader spectacularly contradicted his previous pro-family statements by voting for the deadly Sexual Orientation Regulations and seemed then to have made commitments to the powerful gay lobby in exchange for their political support.