(from the Fabian Society Conference on Saturday, 17 January 2009 as published on nextleft.org)
British society is not broken but more needs to be done in relation to civic society, said higher education minister David Lammy.
While Britain’s approach to international development has recognised the need to move into the public sphere, we need to move that thinking into the domestic context, he added.
He said much had changed from the society in which he grew up: “What I see [now] is fantastic results in schools, the contribution that so many of our young people made in the Olympics. That was an example of huge success in society. I don’t recognise an account that says Britain is broken.”
Solving problems such as knife crime can’t be achieved through ‘quick fixes,’ he said. “I think it was a mistake not to make youth provision a statutory right when we came into power in 1997. It was only last year that we did that. We have put a lot of priority into schools but in my constituency it’s actually what happens when schools close […] that we weren’t able to deal with.”
Dr. Samantha Callan, chair of the Family Law Review, Centre for Social Justice, said society was showing “all the hallmarks of being broken.”
She insisted that there needed to be a renewed emphasis on pro-social norms.