The responsibility of respecting justice: an open challenge to Tony Blair’s successors

Dawn E. Stephen

in ASBO nation

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420282
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301493 | DOI:
The responsibility of respecting justice: an open challenge to Tony Blair’s successors

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Despite the optimism that pervaded New Labour's election in 1997, and some unquestioned successes of his premiership, Tony Blair's detrimental legacy is a society seemingly less tolerant, more condemnatory, and less just than when he entered Downing Street. This chapter examines profound deficiencies in the bequest of ‘respect’ by responding to Blair's own challenge, announced in his speech to accompany the launch of the Respect Action Plan. Fortified by the intention to further strengthen summary powers and civil measures, the remedies outlined in the Respect Action Plan — dealing with ‘challenging’ families, improving behaviour and attendance in schools, and increased activities for children and young people — suggest that the problems within marginalised communities can be addressed by focusing on the symptoms of social malaise. These symptoms are identified as poor parenting, weak familial relationships, truancy and exclusion, neighbourhood disorder and neglect and early involvement in anti-social behaviour. The politics of respect, however, are not promoting inclusion, security and justice, but instead creating long-term insecurities and injustices, of much greater threat to communities and individuals.

Keywords: New Labour; Tony Blair; United Kingdom; anti-social behaviour; Respect Action Plan; young people; injustices; inclusion; truancy; justice

Chapter.  6404 words. 

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