Sun, Jun 03, 2007 - Page 6 News List

UK `respect chief' wants to restore public politeness

AFP , LONDON

Britain can be made great again if more people help old ladies across the road and television characters stop bed-hopping and killing each other, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's "respect" chief said yesterday.

Bringing politeness back to the streets of a kingdom fabled for its manners would make the UK a much better place to live, Louise Casey told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Her Majesty's subjects should try to do a good deed every day, said Casey, the head of the Respect Task Force.

"It's important to help old ladies across the road," she said.

"The greatest pleasure you can give yourself is to help somebody else," she said.

"We need a greater sense that it's OK to be decent," she said. "You're not the nerd if you don't throw your rubbish on the floor -- you're the person who's making Britain the country we all want to live in."

And she attacked television for portraying the UK as a country filled with anti-social yobs.

"I hate the fact that everything is gloomy, everybody is sleeping with each other, everybody is killing each other, everybody is committing anti-social behavior all the time when Britain doesn't look so awful in real life," she said.

Casey said she reckoned Britons were yearning for a restoration of order.

"We're a nation that wants to keep our heads down and be polite, we don't have a culture of being over-confrontational in shops, we need to queue at the bus stop," she said.

"With our reticence comes our need for some structures that mean we can fit in," she said.

She suggested the decline in church-going, neighborliness and two-parent families were all factors in dwindling politeness.

Public services like schools and the police had a duty to encourage polite behavior, while the government should invest in improving manners, she said.

"If there's a problem on an estate, rather than spending money on the building, let's spend money on the behavior," Casey said.

"We've lost the ability to reproach people politely," she said.

"We think if we keep praising people they'll stop behaving badly and that isn't true," she said.

"The mood music should be a sense of rightness, respect, consideration," she said.

"I'd love London buses to have announcements telling passengers to give up their seats to pregnant women," she said.

"There's a public service responsibility to try to uphold certain standards of decency," she said.

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