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A matter of respect

Tony Blair's "respect" policies reflect public disquiet and anxiety among policymakers about declining trust and social capital. The task of moral renewal must not end with the fading of traditional institutions

By David Halpern   July 2005

The murder rate in Britain fell by around a hundredfold from the middle ages to the mid-20th century. This fall is powerful testament to the ways in which, for the most part, people in modern societies have learnt to get along with each other.

But across nations, many of the traditional organisations and habits that helped us to live side by side are vanishing. Claims about their decline are familiar, but its sheer scale and rapidity merits repeating. In 1950, around three in four newborns were baptised, and their parents were regular churchgoers. This has fallen to around one in…

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