“Moral”, this is the question for England today. After the riots earlier this month in London and other major cities in England, Prime Minister David Cameron, of the Conservative Party, said that the “riots provoked by young blacks” were an indication of the English society’s “moral collapse”. 

By declaring so he tried to justify the special punishments that judges are applying to the almost three hundred young people who were arrested. In a groundbreaking case in England, the rules of justice are changing for better “punishing young black people”. They are taking absurd sentences and some will have to stay for four years in prison simply because they were accused of “inciting riots” through Facebook. The immigrants will be deported without any right, which means unemployment, marginalization and imprisonment in their countries of origin.

In contrast, not a single word about the murder of Mark Duggan, not a single word about the police officers who shot him. The government did not even comment about the numerous photographs taken by amateurs, published in newspapers, showing the police violently attacking black youths, many already immobilized, unable to react. Numerous witnesses who were nearby also confirmed the police violent beatings, and the government does not make any comment, in an utter disregard towards black communities. Complete silence about this.

Blair and Cameron, the same policy

Tony Blair, the Labour Prime Minister of United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 was the only one who spoke about the issue. He made a violent speech criticizing the government for accusing black youths as the ones responsible for the moral decline of English society. Before starting his criticism, Mr. Blair admitted he had the same reaction as Cameron in 1993 when James Bulger a two-year-old boy was murdered.

“In 1993, following James Bulger’s murder, I made a case in very similar terms to the one being heard today about moral breakdown in Britain. I now believe that speech was good politics but bad policy. Focus on the specific problem and we can begin on a proper solution. Elevate this into a high falutin wail about a Britain that has lost its way morally and we will depress ourselves unnecessarily, trash our own reputation abroad and, worst of all, miss the chance to deal with the problem in the only way that will work”. (The Observer, 21 /8).

At first glance, it seems that Blair makes a “left-wing” criticism against Cameron’s government, but in fact the former leader of the Labour Party accuses the government of being lenient with young people. While the media published scaring scenes showing the police extreme brutality against young black people, he asked for more support for the police. “The police need to know they have strong support from politicians and public”.

Blair also spoke out against “the right and left” which, according to him, do not understand the reason for the conflicts. For him, neither the social inequality, nor the lack of personal responsibility is the root of the problem.

“Just like in all developed nations, England has to deal with a group of people who are beyond the limits… However, the big cause is the group of young, alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour… In my experience, they are an absolutely specific problem that requires deeply specific solutions… The left says they’re victims of social deprivation, the right says they need to take personal responsibility for their actions; both just miss the point. A conventional social programme won’t help them; neither – on their own – will tougher penalties. The key is to understand that they aren’t symptomatic of society at large…Britain, as a whole, is not in the grip of a moral decline.”

And Blair added: “But many of these people are from families that are profoundly dysfunctional, operating on completely different terms from the rest of society, middle class or poor.This is a phenomenon of the late 20th century. You find it in virtually every developed nation. Breaking it down isn’t about general policy or traditional programmes of investment or treatment”.

The former Labour leader said that at the end of his term he realized that the solution was to “intervene literally family by family”, a criminal justice reform including on anti-social behavior, the organized crime and the gangs. The agenda that came out of this, according to Blair, was conceived in his last years of office, however, he said, “it had to be attempted against a constant backdrop of opposition, left and right, on civil liberty grounds and on the basis we were “stigmatizing” young people”. (The Observer, 21 /8)

Blair acknowledges that he did nothing to solve the problem of social inequality, despite his campaign promises and despite the program of the party to which he belongs, the Labour Party, which always tells the workers that the problem of poverty will be solved. In other words, both Blair and the Labour Party have always lied to the working class.

Blair, so, acknowledges that his party has never considered the young black and the poor as part of the society as a whole, as part of the English working class; they have always considered them as outcasts, marginal gangs that need to be exterminated. This is the Labour Party policy which does not differ from the current Tory policy whose purpose is to reform the justice in order to punish harder. It is a policy of punishment, of criminalization, and not a policy of poverty eradication; it is not a policy which enables the access to public education, to professional qualification and to employment, without discrimination of any kind. To strengthen the police, to increase the number of prisons, to reform the justice system in order to punish harder, this is the solution proposed by Blair, completely different from what  the “left” says, namely, that we must end up with social inequality.

An English-style Bolsa Família programme

Ina solemnspeech tohis constituents andaclear message to thebankers, to the millionaires and to all European countries, Prime Minister DavidCameronpromised to help120,000″mosttroubled” families, as part of the policies of the government’s politicalcoalition(Liberals and Conservatives) to create “social fightback”against what he called solemnly the “slow-motion moral collapse” of Britain(Guardian, 16/8). He said his program for the next election will be deeply committed to develop a programme to help these families. Analyzing the roots of the conflicts-he rules out poverty and spending cuts in public services- Cameron threw the responsibility on the back of these families who “were dealing with multiple complex social health and economic problems” and said that in order to avoid a break in moral values​​ of British society it is necessary to rehabilitate these 120,000families.”We need more urgent action on the families that some people call ‘problem’, others call ‘troubled’. The ones everyone in their neighborhood knows and often avoids”.

Cameron said he would ask the head of the organization Action for Employment, Emma Harrison, who he appointed his “families champion”, to use her experience in dealing with troubled families in three pilot areas to overcome bureaucratic problems that have hampered the rapid expansion of a similar families intervention programme created by the Labour Party since 2006.

In 2008, the then prime Labour minister Gordon Brown promised to assist “more than 110,000 families with disruptive young people youth”. The latest official data shows that in 2009-10 only 3,518 families were in fact included in the programme and it has helped only 7,300 families since its launch in 2006. (Guardian, 16/8)

It is a program like the “Bolsa Família” programme of Lula’s government in Brazil, which maps the families in extreme poverty and delivers them food baskets or a small monthly amount. This is not to eradicate poverty, but to appease hunger, and above all, to show that the government is doing something and so it should be reelected, its aim is to show that Britain is not sinking as everyone thinks it is. Such a program established by the Labour Party is a way to further marginalize the poorest families, mapping them and separating them into a kind of “poverty ghetto”; an easier way for the government to control them.

Poverty in Britain

Social inequality, to which Blair refers in a very irresponsible way, is deep in England. And it is getting deeper. All the surveys show that today, one out of three children lives in extreme poverty in Britain, one of the world’s most industrialized countries in the world. This is very serious, because poverty causes a profound impact on children, on their families, creating a situation of social exclusion as well as learning disabilities, mental and physical problems that impair these human beings for the rest of their lives.

Unemployment has also been advancing. The GMB Union says that 10 percent of northeast England’s workforce is already unemployed. The number varies among regions; the highest unemployment rate is in Nottingham, with a daunting 14.8 percent. Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said he feared recession could bite even harder with the cuts the Con-Dem government has been accomplishing. “With government getting rid of tens of thousands of public-sector jobs and with the private sector either stalling or going backwards, the outlook in many areas is very worrying bordering on bleak,” said Mr. Kenny (Morning Star, 24/8).

According to Kenny’s opinion, the government has to prioritize growth across Britain: “Investment in housing, school repair, energy and transport are all badly needed and will create jobs and growth in all sectors of the economy”.

Their morals and ours

Kenny is right. However, he must clearly explain to their grassroots that the government is doing just the opposite. Because of this the poverty is not restricted to the 120,000 families that Cameron describes as “problematic.” Poverty is spreading throughout the country and the prospect in the near future is to get even worse. The situation has been reaching a dramatic level and compensatory measures, such as “family allowance”, will be bound to failure. The working class needs to urgently call on a national general strike to force the government to immediately stop the policy of cuts, and start taxing millionaires and banks and, therefore, invest in public works and in a policy to guarantee employment for all including the immigrants and the young black community. There is no other way to resolve the issue of riots and quench the anger of the young people, who rightly took the streets to protest.

The poverty situation which has been growing in Britain is the result of the lack of morals in a society that privileges the imperialism and the bourgeoisie’s affairs, a society that is profit-driven results in the exploitation and marginalization of the most vulnerable, as the women, the immigrants and the blacks. It is this imperialist bourgeois moral that leads the government to intervene in other countries aiming at the peoples’ oppression and make them kneel down and give up fighting for their rights. This is the reason why Britain intervenes in Libya, Syria, India and other nations that are fighting against the local governments. It is so because, to Britain, a country whose bourgeoisie is used to operating an imperialist and extortion policy over other nations, it does not matter the freedom of peoples but the guarantee of profits and peaceful exploitation of oil and other natural resources.

Marx and Engels were right when they taught us that morality has a class character. The bourgeoisie moral has no limits when it comes to exploiting the people. The German playwright, Berthold Brecht used to say that for the bankers, the profit comes first, and then comes the moral and, because of that, the workers can never trust the bourgeoisie. But our morals have limits, the moral of the working class, the moral of those who are oppressed and exploited, has limits. It is the moral of class solidarity, the moral averse to private ownership of wealth, which benefits some and leaves the most poverty-stricken. Our morality is the moral in the defense of peoples’ self-determination, the defense of peoples who are struggling for their freedom and for the control of their wealth so that everyone can live with dignity.

Currently in India people have been positioning themselves daily against the corruption that has gripped the government. In Chile, young people are bravely fighting for public education. In England and throughout Europe, just as in Libya, Syria and other Arab nations, the workers and poor people face the imperialist and capitalist domination and are achieving great victories. So, they are raising their moral level against bourgeois morality which is in total decay. As Cameron said, the moral problem is a current problem in Britain today; a problem for the bourgeoisie, because their morals is declining and ours is on the rise.