Blair calls for a moral awakening

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THE HORRIFIC crimes committed in recent days were like 'hammer blows struck against the sleeping conscience of society', Tony Blair, the Labour spokesman on home affairs, said last night, writes Colin Brown.

In a speech signalling a shift away from Labour's traditional socialist approach to law and order, Mr Blair said the crimes urged Britain to 'wake up and look unflinchingly at what we see'.

Calling for a reassertion of moral values, and a clear distinction between right and wrong, he set out to capture the middle ground on law and order. He said the crimes 'provoke anger and disbelief', but could not be solved by legislation; a new relationship between society and the individual was needed, based on rights and responsibilities.

'The historic problem of old socialism was the tendency to subsume the individual - rights, duties and all - within ideas of the 'public good' that at its worst came simply to mean the state.

'The failure of the present right is to believe that the absence of community means the presence of freedom. The task is to retrieve the notion of community from a narrow view of the state and put it to work again for the benefit of us all,' Mr Blair said.

Moral values, page 5