David Cameron has said he is determined to mend Britain's "broken society" after last week's riots by bringing in a review of government policy on welfare, families, parenting, addiction and communities.
Speaking on Monday the prime minister said Britain had suffered a “slow-motion moral collapse”, criticising the state under Labour which he claims incentivised "some of the worst aspects of human nature."
He said "stamping out gangs" that have become a "major criminal disease" would be a new national priority, while the government would also consider whether its plans to "bold" enough to deliver change.
"Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face ... Our security fightback must be matched by a social fightback," Cameron said as he described the violent disorder as a "wake-up call" for Britain.
“Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences. Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort. Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control. Some of the worst aspects of human nature tolerated, indulged - sometimes even incentivised - by a state and its agencies that in parts have become literally de-moralised.”
Setting out his personal priorities for government the prime minister promised he won’t be “found wanting”: “In my very first act as leader of this party I signalled my personal priority: to mend our broken society. That passion is stronger today than ever.”
But in a separate speech Ed Miliband has warned against “knee jerk” responses to the disorder.
Speaking at the comprehensive school he once attended the Labour leader said greed and immorality are evident in all strands of society, from the looters to the bankers.
He criticised Cameron’s “simplistic” interpretation of the crisis and his attitude to the police, saying it is wrong to “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.”
“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 for deep rooted solutions.”
The Labour leader used comments made by Cameron in his so-called ‘hug a hoodie’ speech where he first outlined his commitment to fix “broken Britain”, to accuse the prime minister of changing his mind.
“Five years ago he thought deprivation as well as culture both mattered. But now he says: ‘This is not about poverty; it is about culture’. I don’t understand why he has changed his mind. The world hasn’t changed … I am clear: both culture and deprivation matter. To explain is not to excuse. But to refuse to explain is to condemn to repeat.”