Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 14:08 UK

Boris clarifies 'piffle' remark

Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson became mayor of London in May

London mayor Boris Johnson has issued a clarification after saying the idea of a "broken society," a phrase often used by David Cameron, was "piffle".

In an article for Tuesday's Daily Telegraph on Britain's Olympic success, Mr Johnson criticised politicians who spoke of a "broken" society.

But in a statement issued on Wednesday, the Conservative mayor stressed he had not been referring to his party leader.

He said Mr Cameron was "right" to draw attention to social breakdown.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: "Boris Johnson is immensely proud of what young British athletes have achieved in Beijing.

"Their success is a tribute to their sense of ambition, determination and self discipline.

If you believe the politicians, we have a broken society, in which the courage and morals of young people have been sapped by welfarism and political correctness
Boris Johnson

"These are the qualities he is keen to encourage in teenagers across London, where a lack of purpose, discipline and self-esteem lead many to wasted lives and violence.

"David Cameron is right to highlight that serious and destructive social breakdown.

"Politicians who pretend there is not a problem are complacent, and should recognise that there is a huge challenge if every teenager is to fulfil their potential as our athletes have managed this week."

In his Telegraph article, Mr Johnson praised the achievements of young Britons at the Beijing Olympics - and suggested Britain's young people were owed an apology.

Cameron pledge

He wrote: "If you believe the politicians, we have a broken society, in which the courage and morals of young people have been sapped by welfarism and political correctness.

"And if you look at what is happening at the Beijing Olympics, you can see what piffle that is."

Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to heal Britain's "broken society" in a series of speeches and interviews.

He repeats the claim in a book published this week, pledging "radical" social reforms if he comes to power.

But Prime Minister Gordon Brown has rejected the idea of a "broken society".

In a recent appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Mr Brown said: "I don't think the British people have ever been broken by anything or anyone. "

Mr Brown's predecessor as prime minister, Tony Blair, used the phrase in a 1995 conference speech when Labour were in opposition, speaking of the "wreckage of our broken society".




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