• By Michael Little
  • Posted on Wednesday 10th August, 2011

Separate but connected?

"There are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but frankly sick," said David Cameron on his return from Tuscany. Like the Prime Minister I have a strong belief in the power of communities to improve human development, and child development in particular.But the condemnation of young looters, echoed by Ed Milliband as he took his photo opportunity in front of a group of broom bearing youngsters in Manchester, only serves to disconnect those who are already unhinged.Hoodies and their tattoo bearing, cigarette smoking, borderline obese, single mothers are an easy target for a moral majority. But these young people and their families also constitute a community. They hold often unpalatable views, not least the aggressive, unrepentant, young man captured on television news this afternoon putting it all down to the ‘Poles taking our jobs’.Progress will come not from denouncing these communities but by forging connections. The most remarkable contribution today came from Tariq Jahan whose son Haroon was last night murdered during unrest in Birmingham. Tariq called for an end to violence that threatened to escalate into racial strife between neighbourhoods.There is a power in communities that can be unleashed for good and for bad. A healthy community will understand that we are separate but connected to a broader society to which we hold obligations.Parts of our society must change. But none, whether they be bankers who broke the bank or young thugs who want to break into the bank are going to be told what to do. We must provide incentive to change.In the days that come, our political leadership might remember its responsibilities to those who Cameron labels as ‘sick’. Inequalities in wealth. The failure to sponsor social mobility. The narrowly drawn political elite. These are among the many symptoms of the illness that lays low our society. The remedies are hard pills to swallow.

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