For the last forty years or more, this country has appeared to be in the grip of one kind of national panic or another. In the 1960s and 1970s it was a moral panic that took hold of ‘middle England’. Self-styled hippies and lefties were charged by an older generation with threatening the fabric of society. In the 1980s it was threats to national security that appeared to strike fear in the heart of the nation, from IRA terrorists to the spectre of a Soviet nuclear attack. As the 1990s progressed we were back to a moral panic again. The view that contemporary society was characterised by ‘too many rights and not enough responsibilities’ was shared by politicians, priests and political commentators alike.