Cameron’s plans for ‘Broken Britain’
Following the riots of last week, which left five people dead, David Cameron has urged Britain to find its moral compass. With thousands facing charges for violence and theft and at least £200 million in property losses, it has become a huge talking point for people nationwide. Cameron has said that senior ministers will be spending the next few weeks formulating new policies which will aim to reverse what he described as a country being dragged down by the laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness of its citizens.
Under a new scheme, all 16-year-olds will be called upon to do non-military national service as part of a new initiative designed to teach respect to an age group which is currently seen by some as lacking discipline. This echoes the German system which, up until recently, required all people from the age of 18 to undertake at least 9 months of military service. The German military was founded in 1955, and conscription has been seen as critical to civil society in order to prevent a repeat of the way in which the Nazi party was able to manipulate professional soldiers in the 1930s. However, experts argue that it has prevented the modernisation of the German military.
According to Nation Master Statistics, Germany boasts a crime rate of 7.6% (76.0 per 1,000 people) compared to Britain’s 8.56% (85.6 per 1000 people). However, these kind of statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual numbers of people committing offences. Still, there is a clear difference in crime rates between the two countries – although it remains to be seen whether this comes down to the German method of compulsory national service or whether it is simply a case of a more effective justice system.
Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said that Mr Cameron is “reaching for shallow and superficial answers” and has once again called for a public inquiry into last week’s riots. He went on to accuse the Prime Minister of using “knee-jerking” claims which he is unlikely to follow through.
Nevertheless, the Prime Minister plans to push forward with efforts to better what he sees as ‘failing schools’ and pledged to speed up reforms to get more good schools in deprived areas. He pointed out that it was not just an underclass which is to blame for social ills; in his speech he claimed that “moral decline and bad behaviour is not limited to a few of the poorest parts of our society”. He also stressed that the security crackdown had to be matched by efforts from the public in wanting to better themselves: “This must be a wake-up call for our country,” he said, going on to declare a “clear ambition that within the lifetime of this Parliament, we will turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in the country”.
His aims have come under scrutiny as he announced moves towards imposing a tougher approach to those who claim unemployment benefits; he also has laid out plans to end the “chilling effect” of the human rights culture in Britain along with the health and safety rules which he sees as ‘damaging’ to British society. Harking back to the original Conservative aims, Cameron went on to outline the importance of building stronger family units and suggested a new “family test” aimed at vetting government policies and ensuring they are well-suited to families. Finally, he pressed the matter of school reforms, promising to boost the standards of teaching as well as discipline within education establishments.
The National Citizen Scheme offers teenagers the chance to abseil and canoe, amongst other activities, as well as assist with various work schemes within the community. This controversial move is one which is likely to provoke intense debate within parliament in coming weeks, as well as fuelling further divides in public opinion towards the current government.