"Big society" at the heart of David Cameron's riot response

In his column (18 August) Liam Clarke asks “whatever happened to the big society” in the aftermath of riots in England.  If Liam cares to read the prime minister’s speech, delivered last Monday, he will find that the big society is right at the heart of the government’s response to the violence.

David Cameron is determined to combat welfare dependency, family breakdown, drug addiction and gang culture, all of which form the depressing backdrop to riots.  Long before this outbreak of disorder the government introduced radical welfare reforms designed to make it pay for people to go back to work.

The prime minister has also announced a far reaching review of policy, to examine whether more can be done to encourage stronger families, greater educational attainment and more personal responsibility.  Far from fostering a “fractured Britain”, the government is working to give everyone a genuine stake in their communities.

It’s only right and proper that there should also be a security crackdown, after the disgraceful outbreak of looting and criminality which we saw last week.  The courts decide sentences rather than David Cameron, but he is quite correct to commend judges for handing down exemplary sentences in order to send out a clear message that the scenes we saw on the streets of Britain two weeks ago were totally unacceptable. 

The government has devised a balanced response to the riots which sticks to its ‘big society’ principles.  David Cameron is committed to mending communities where they are broken.  Contrary to Liam Clarke’s contention, it is a task well worth returning from holiday to tackle.

Irwin Armstrong