Different members of the coalition government feel free to speak confidently about the positive role of religion in society, with a particular emphasis on the UK's historical Christianity. But it remains to be seen whether the Church of England really provides a core, but not co-opted, public role, whilst not excluding those from minority faiths.
In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth succeeded her father, Britain was broke. Meat, butter and sweets were still rationed. Abortion and homosexuality were illegal. Polio maimed thousands of children a year. Smog killed thousands of adults. Innocent people were sentenced to death. Plays were censored. Just 17 MPs were women.
There is much of merit in the Prime Minister's speech concerning the riots. His emphasis on morality and questions of 'right and wrong' will resonate with many. However, such rhetoric may be an empty vessel unless based on robust research into the causes of and solutions to the social problems to which he refers. A voice to stand up for democratic freedoms is crucial, but so is a need to work within the society that social workers are part in this country if we are to build together, rather than tear down, supportive state welfare that benefits social, political and economic well-being for all.
During the riots we were forced to acknowledge the existence of Two Britains; one in which the rule of law was upheld and where people shared a common set of moral values, and a shadow Britain of morally displaced others who do not share these values. David Cameron has referred to these anti-social elements of British society as 'sick'. The Prime Minister's ideal of Big Society had clashed with the reality of a very Sick Society.
Once the fires are out and the windows are repaired there will be deeper issues to address. We need to have a good hard look at the direction in which our society is heading. What values are being taught to children by parents and schools? Whether values of respecting others and taking responsibility for your own behaviour are being undermined by our media, broadcast, print and social alike? This should not be a political football. These are deep issues which everyone who cares about our country should be able to address in a calm and rational way.
Unfashionable though it is, we need to face some home truths; to love your offspring is to equip them to aspire to a better life than you have and this requires parents to have the moral courage to instil 'character'. The out of touch plea issued by the politicians and police, for parents to control their children, demonstrates how deep rooted this problem is for society. Unfashionable though it is, we need to face some home truths; to love your offspring is to equip them to aspire to a better life than you have and this requires parents to have the moral courage to instil character.