In an implicit attack on the 'there is no such thing as society' philosophy, Mr Blair, a former employment spokesman, said: 'We do not say that the responsibility of government or society should be substituted for that of the individual.' There was no excuse for crime.
'But I say, when young men and women seek but do not find any reflection of their hopes in the society around them, when the Tories create a creed of acquisition and place it alongside a culture without opportunity, when communities disintegrate and people within them feel they have no chance to improve and nothing to strive for, then it takes not a degree in social science, merely a modicum of common sense, to see that in the soil of alienation crime will take root.'
The Conservatives denied the link between crime and social conditions because they refused to accept responsibility for it, Mr Blair said. 'That is failure, not just of policy but of values.
'There is not a choice between self-interest and the public good. It is only on the foundation of a strong and fair society that individual aspiration can best be built.'
Those who doubted the truth of that should think back on the great causes of the century. State education was not created by market forces, nor the National Health Service by greed, nor the United Nations by a retreat into nationalism.
Mr Blair said most of those who suffered crime lived on run-down estates, unable to afford private transport or burglar alarms. The Tory strategy was to shift blame for the problem of crime from the Government to the police.
It was the Government's responsibility to promote a national strategy to put policing back into local communities where it belonged.