Cameron: Riot-hit UK must reverse ‘moral collapse’

LONDON (AP) — Britain must confront a culture of laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness that fueled four days of riots which left five people dead, thousands facing criminal charges and hundreds of millions in damages, Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged Monday.

As rival political leaders staked out their response to England’s unrest, Cameron pledged to deliver a raft of new policies by October aimed at reversing the “slow-motion moral collapse” which he blames for fostering the disorder.

“This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face,” Cameron told an audience at a youth center in Witney, his Parliamentary district in southern England. “Just as people last week wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these social problems taken on and defeated.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said Monday he was checking whether those involved in the riots should have their welfare payments cut, while London mayor Boris Johnson said young people convicted in the disorder would lose their right to use public transportation for free.

Cameron pledged to end a culture of timidity in discussing family breakdown or poor parenting, or in criticizing those who fail to set a good example to their children or community.

“We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong,” Cameron said.

“We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said, about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy.”

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