You're Talking Rubbish, Lethal Bizzle ... Lyrics about Guns and Knives DO Destroy Lives; the Tory Leader Takes on a Rapper and the Culture He Represents

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), June 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

You're Talking Rubbish, Lethal Bizzle ... Lyrics about Guns and Knives DO Destroy Lives; the Tory Leader Takes on a Rapper and the Culture He Represents


Byline: DAVID CAMERON

HEADLINES such as 'Tory leader slams Radio 1 DJ' must have made some people wonder what on earth was going on. I had answered a simple but important question: 'How do we get to grips with gun and knife crime?' My response was that, while we must pass tougher laws, that alone will never be enough.

Whether as politicians, parents, teachers or young people, we all have a responsibility to combat the culture that says it's OK or even cool to carry a knife or gun.

And in my view that responsibility should extend to those involved in all aspects of creating and promoting popular culture.

Aspects of pop culture glamorise the use of knives and guns.

Ignore this fact and we miss an important part of both the problem and, potentially, the solution.

Our society has a real and growing problem with knives and guns. On Thursday, yet another young man was stabbed to death.

It happened in Central London, just across the river from the Houses of Parliament.

Last year, 236 people were killed with knives, a 17 per cent increase over the figures for 1998-99. There were more than 50 knife attacks in England and Wales over the recent bank holiday weekend alone.

What is even worse is that the age at which people are becoming involved is getting younger. According to a Youth Justice Board poll, 28 per cent of young people in mainstream schools had carried a knife in the previous year.

STABBINGS and shootings no longer come as so much of a shock to us. We have almost come to expect a daily diet of murder and mayhem. So what can political leaders do to help halt this tide of violence?

New laws are certainly part of the answer. Last November, the Conservative Party proposed an amendment to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill to raise the maximum sentence for carrying a knife from two years to five.

Labour voted against this.

I raised the issue of knife crime again with the Prime Minister on Wednesday, pointing out that he had promised tougher laws more than a year ago and, as ever, nothing happened.

But new laws need to be accompanied by new attitudes.

Real change happens only when we accept that we're all in this together - that we have a shared responsibility to act.

Take the issue of drink-driving.

Of course the introduction of a mandatory one-year ban helped to lead the change and reduce this scourge, but attitudes changed as well as laws.

Increasingly it became socially unacceptable. Peer pressure, police action, advertising, promotions by pubs for non-drinking drivers - all of these things helped achieve real change.

So where does the shared responsibility lie for tackling the carrying of guns and knives by young people?

Massive evidence points to the crucial role of the family - and in particular early-years care - in shaping criminal and antisocial behaviour.

So it is vital parents, teachers and other authority figures stand up for what is right.

But there is another part of our society that needs to take a long hard look at itself.

The writer Clive James has observed that 'after the school playground and the influence of parents, children get their principles from popular culture'. …

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You're Talking Rubbish, Lethal Bizzle ... Lyrics about Guns and Knives DO Destroy Lives; the Tory Leader Takes on a Rapper and the Culture He Represents
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