Actress Brook Kinsella backs Tory campaign to mend 'broken society'

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Indy Politics

Former EastEnders star Brook Kinsella today backed David Cameron's campaign to mend the "broken society" - insisting the Labour government had not "done enough".

Ms Kinsella, whose brother Ben was stabbed to death in 2008, will head a panel of three or four young people who would help a Tory government identify which projects to support in the 100 most deprived wards in the country.

Addressing an event hosted by the Centre for Social Justice thinktank in south east London, Ms Kinsella said the Tory plans for knife crime were the toughest of any party, and said of Labour: "Sadly, although I think they care, I do not think they have done enough."

Ben Kinsella, 16, was stabbed to death in June 2008 after a row with a group of youths.

Ms Kinsella said the death of her brother had "completely destroyed" her family.

Since then she had been going through a "journey" trying to make sure it did not happen to "someone else's brother, someone else's son".

"This year nine teenagers in this city alone have been murdered, and that is nine families going through the worst grief," she said.

She insisted that education, rehabilitation and discipline were need to tackle the problem.

"We do need discipline because we need to show there is a right and there is a wrong and if you do wrong you can't be allowed to get away with it."

She went on: "It's all very well saying we won't tolerate the carrying of a weapon, you should expect to go to jail. But how often is this being enforced?"

Ms Kinsella said she did not want to "slander" anyone in the Government, and was only "talking from the heart".

"The Government does need to help, and although they care, I do not think they have done enough."

She said she did not want to see another murdered youth's face in the newspapers and not be surprised.

"I just want change, like many people out there," the actress said. "I'm not that knowledgeable about politics and I don't pretend to be."

Ms Kinsella said she wanted to "put my faith" in a government that would make the streets safe again.

"I do think that David Cameron and the Conservatives will do this. Their policies on knife crime seem to be the toughest."

The actress said she was "petrified" about her new role.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said there had been "far too many tragedies, far too many families whose lives have been wrecked" by violent crime and anti-social behaviour.

Setting out plans to involve grass-roots projects in tackling the issue, he said: "Solving the problems needs community as much as it needs justice."

Tory leader David Cameron said he had heard a lot of speeches during the election campaign, but added: "I do not think I have heard a more passionate, a more heartfelt, a more courageous, more meaningful speech than what we have just heard from Brooke."

Mr Cameron said Ben Kinsella had become one of a number of victims who were "household names", including Rhys Jones, Gary Newlove and Damilola Taylor.

Pointing to the recent killing of a young man at rush hour in Victoria Tube station, Mr Cameron said: "There's a danger that we as a society can slowly become almost immune to unbelievable events like this.

"Each time the shock is a little bit slighter, a little bit quicker to pass.

"And as our sensitivity gets coarsened, we get a step further away from what it is to be civilised.

"So I think it is time to be honest about what has been happening in our country.

"There has always been violence. There has always been evil.

"But there is something about the frequency of these crimes - the depravity of these crimes, that betrays a deep and fundamental problem in Britain today.

"As I have argued for many years now, these acts of murder and abuse are just the most violent and horrific expressions of what I have called the broken society."

Mr Cameron said he had been criticised for saying society was broken and would be again, but insisted he was "saying this as I see it".

Pointing to schools with metal detectors, disabled people being abused for being in a wheelchair, people committing suicide because of spiralling debts, and drug addicts with no hope, the Tory leader said: "Something is broken. Society is broken.

"The broken society is not one thing alone. It is not just the crime.

"It is a whole stew of violence, anti-social behaviour, debt, addiction, family breakdown, educational failure, poverty and despair.

"This is life - or the backdrop of life - for millions of people in this country."

Fixing the problems required "head as well as heart", Mr Cameron said, beginning with an understanding of what had gone wrong.

He argued that big government was part of the problem, saying the size of the state was now making things worse.

He said he did not want to "pretend" that the broken society had been born under Labour, but that it was right to evaluate the situation after 13 years in power.

Mr Cameron said the poor were getting poorer, social mobility had stalled, violent crime was up, and levels of family breakdown and teenage pregnancy levels were among the worst in Europe.

"These are astonishing statistics," he said.

"And what makes them more astonishing is that, for the past decade, the state has been hyperactive in its attempts to deal with these problems."

Arguing for his "big society" approach to tackling the problems, he said the age of big government was "nearing the limits of its effectiveness".

"As it has continued to expand, becoming bigger, more dictatorial, more intrusive, it has taken away from people the belief and desire to do things for themselves, for their families and for their neighbours," Mr Cameron said.

"So there is less expectation to work, to use your discretion and judgment, to engage with your local community, to keep your neighbourhood clean, to respect other people and their property.

"Today, the state is ever-present: either doing things for you, or telling you how to do them, or making sure you're doing it their way."

This was the "moral failure" of Labour's approach, Mr Cameron argued.

The Tories would press ahead with "progressive conservatism",

"Progressive - because if the Big Society exists for any reason, it must be to help the most disadvantaged in our country and seek to create a more united and equal place for us all," he said.

"But Conservative too because we need to draw upon historic values of conservatism - discipline, responsibility, a deep faith in mankind and womankind, a respect for traditional institutions, such as family, church, community and country, and an appreciation of the limitations of the state.

"Progressive conservatism is a modern philosophy that is right for an age in which debate is being widened and power is being diffused."

Arguing that it was "an idea whose time has come", he cited William Gladstone.

Mr Cameron said: "'It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right,' he said.

"Gladstone was, of course, a classic Liberal. But he also understood the power of traditional values.

"And in these 19 words, he perfectly defined the ideal for government."