UK’s Cameron: will mend “broken society” after riots

LONDON, (Reuters) – Prime Minister David Cameron says his government would mend Britain’s “broken society”  to prevent a repeat of the country’s worst riots in decades.

More than 2,800 people have been arrested since a protest  over the fatal shooting of a suspect by police prompted rioting  and looting in the poor north London area of Tottenham, which  spread across the capital and sparked violence in other English  cities.

Cameron, who returned from holiday in Italy last week at the  height of the unrest, is seeking to tap into widespread public  anger over the protests, which occurred 15 months after he took  office at the head of a cost-cutting coalition.

“This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social  problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in  our face,” Cameron, leader of the centre-right Conservatives,  will say in a speech today.

“Now, just as people wanted criminals robustly confronted on  our street, so they want to see these problems taken on and  defeated. Our security fightback must be matched by a social  fightback,” he will say, according to advance extracts of his  speech.

The stakes are high for Cameron. Any repeat of last week’s  lawlessness, in which shops were smashed up and set on fire and  five people were killed, will sap public confidence in his  government.

However, analysts say Cameron, a slick former public  relations executive, could benefit politically if he provides  the tough law and order response some voters are seeking.

Cameron has responded to the crisis by taking a hardline  stance and his speech on Monday will refer to the dangers of  indiscipline in schools and family breakdown, succour to  traditional Conservatives who feel their young leader is too  liberal on social issues.

Cameron, 44, and his centre-left Liberal Democrat coalition  partners will review their programme over the coming weeks,  looking at issues like welfare and addiction to ensure that  stronger communities can be built.

But the prime minister has ruled out easing spending cuts  which some left-wing critics say are fuelling tensions in  Britain’s cities, where the gap between rich and poor is gaping.

Cameron believes that jittery financial markets will take  fright at the first sign of backtacking on plans to erase by  2015 a budget deficit that peaked at over 10 percent of national  output.

“Yes, we have had an economic crisis to deal with, clearing  up the terrible mess we inherited, and we are not out of those  woods yet – not by a long way,” Cameron will say on Monday.

“But…the reason I am in politics is to build a bigger,  stronger society,” he said.

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband said the government had  to help young people who felt they would face tougher lives than  their parents or grandparents.

“Are issues like education and skills, youth services, youth  unemployment important for diverting people away from gangs,  criminality, the wrong path? Yes. They matter,” Miliband will  say in a speech he will deliver on Monday at the state school  where he was educated in north London.

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