Labour attacked by guru

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A political thinker credited with having a profound influence on new Labour, criticised the Government yesterday for cutting lone parents' benefits without first showing that work was available for them. Amatai Etzioni, the founder of Communitarianism, has met Tony Blair. He is said to have influenced the new wording of Clause Four of Labour's Constitution, which replaced nationalisation with a statement that "the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe".

Interviewed on BBC Radio yesterday, Professor Etzioni, who is based at George Washington University in the United States, suggested that the decision to cut benefits was "not very communitarian". "The notion of getting people off before there is real, solid evidence that we have provided them with work or opportunities to find work, is too punitive ... we don't have the evidence that work will be available."