Tony Blair writing in today’s Telegraph says he disagrees with both the Blair of 1992 and the Cameron of 2007 in his analysis of crime and anti-social behaviour.  I don’t follow his logic in parts but his underlying idea seems to be that a rising tide doesn’t lift all ships, that a disruptive minority in society haven’t responded to public investment or societal pressures and needs to be controlled:

"What I have learnt over these 10 years is that the
original analysis I had was incomplete and therefore misguided, ie,
guiding us to the wrong policy conclusion, not in the sense that
investment in poorer neighbourhoods and regeneration was wrong – it has
been absolutely right – but in the sense that it will not deal with
this small and unrepresentative minority.

when David Cameron argues that ASB laws are "counter-productive"
because we all have to take responsibility, that is also misguided.
Repealing ASB laws is the last thing we need. And it’s not the state
that is using them. It is local communities; and, where used, they make
a real difference.

The true point is that they are
not enough. I now think that the proper answer is to add to the ASB
laws measures that target failing and dysfunctional families early, and
place those families within a proper, structured, disciplined framework
of help and insistence on proper behaviour."

Anti-social behaviour is one area in which a dose of authoritarianism has its popular appeal, but when talking about societal problems Cameron has often been careful to say that it’s not the government’s place to use coercion on them. Blair appears to have given up on being "tough on the causes of crime", the causes being concentrated in a rotten core of families that need disciplining.

Deputy Editor

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