by David Williamson, Western Mail
Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan yesterday warned that the British elite must put their own house in order as the country reels from the riots that shattered neighbourhoods across England last week.
Speaking shortly after Prime David Cameron condemned the UK’s “slow-motion moral collapse”, the Welsh Anglican leader warned that “desperate” young people had been set a poor example and Britain’s boardrooms needed a “clean sweep”.
Dr Morgan lambasted the “greed and selfishness” which existed at the top of society.
In a scathing attack on the upper echelons of the British establishment, he turned his guns on bonus-rich bankers, senior police officers and expenses-fiddling MPs.
He told the Western Mail: “I don’t want to condone the behaviour of those who have destroyed property or killed people. On the other hand I believe we have to ask deeper questions, ‘What causes young people, and really young people, to behave in such a desperate way, to behave in a way which they think is acceptable?’
“What causes people to feel so desperate that they can go out and not care about the consequences? There are pockets of our cities that are totally deprived, where our poor feel they have nothing to lose.
“And we have to ask what sort of moral example are they being set by those in authority or positions of power? Headline after headline over the past few years has revealed a society made ‘sick’ by greed and selfishness from the top down.
“We’ve got bankers who’ve been helping themselves to excessively large and unjustified bonuses, MPs exploiting the expenses system and effectively stealing from the public purse, and senior police officers resigning over newspaper phone-hacking scandals. So any plan to tackle the ‘moral collapse’ is likely to fall on deaf ears without a clean sweep of the boardrooms as well as the streets.”
Yesterday, Mr Cameron insisted the riots were “not about poverty” but he admitted that “moral decline” was not limited to the poorest sections of society.
He said: “In the banking crisis, with MPs’ expenses, in the phone hacking scandal, we have seen some of the worst cases of greed, irresponsibility and entitlement.”
UK Labour leader Ed Miliband also condemned the “greed, selfishness and immorality” which led to the “crisis of values in our society”.
Speaking at his old school, Haverstock Comprehensive in north London, he said: “Children’s ideas of right and wrong don’t just come from their parents and we can’t honestly say the greed, selfishness and gross irresponsibility that shocked us all so deeply is confined to the looters or even to their parents. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of ‘me-first, take what you can’ culture.
“The bankers who took millions while destroying people’s savings: greedy, selfish, and immoral; the MPs who fiddled their expenses: greedy, selfish, and immoral; the people who hacked phones at the expense of victims: greedy, selfish and immoral.”