Major's screen violence plea falls on deaf ears

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR'S appeal to film, video and television producers to reduce screen violence received only muted support from the Labour Party yesterday.

Tony Blair, shadow home affairs minister, agreed that children were conditioned by everything around them but said the Prime Minister's call fell far short of a strategy to reduce youth crime.

He said: 'The Tories are on the defensive on crime and are more interested in snatching a headline than acting. The Prime Minister is not proposing anything.'

Mr Major told the Conservative Central Council in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, on Saturday that while he did not favour censorship, he believed there was too much violence in videos and on television. He urged parents to control what children watched and suggested producers ask themselves what effect 'a relentless diet of violence' had on the young.

He instructed television programmers: 'Don't just be careful when you show it - be careful what you show.'

Mr Blair said yesterday that violent children were more likely to be influenced by video nasties than by television programmes such as Casualty, the BBC hospital drama criticised for violent content. Physical and sexual abuse in the home were likely to be even more significant.

Television programmers and film makers have rejected Mr Major's criticism and demanded he provide specific complaints. Ann Clwyd, Labour's National Heritage spokesman, called for more research on the connection between screen violence and real-life aggression.

Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, warned yesterday that tough action was being taken to counter 'the remorseless' rise in crime. He insisted crime was a matter of individual responsibility but agreed improved social conditions could minimise crime.

He said on London Weekend Television's Walden programme that his proposals to lock up persistant young criminals would empower courts that could not impose a custodial sentence.

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