It is very easy, in fact it's flippantly easy to dismiss David Cameron's speech yesterday about personal responsibility and civil society as either "indistinguishable from what Mr Blair was saying at the same stage in his career" as Dominic Lawson did in this morning's Independent, or as "soft-soap rhetoric" and a lack of policy as the Lib Dem MP, Nick Clegg did. However, the latter point - especially about policy - is fundamentally linked to the crux of the philosophical position that Cameron was putting forward which is (and this brings in the former) clearly distinguishable from what Blair was saying 12 or so years ago.
Beginning with Clegg, if we look at Cameron's speech, it is clear that by expressing a need for individuals to start being more personally responsible and changing the perception that "it's the Government's job init?" to every problem, policy becomes something not that politicians prescribe, but something that individuals make themselves in their own communities. The lack of policy is, paradoxically, actually a policy because it states that a Conservative Government would allow the local people to decide on how best to deal with the issues that impact them.
Clearly this is a very distinct position from the Blairite one even at face value in just a short paragraph. However, and moving on to Dominic Lawson's point, there is a more technical difference between what Cameron is saying now and what Blair said all those years ago. For Blair, as many will recall (and I do because he was the subject matter of my dissertation sadly), the key was a coupling of two concepts; rights and responsibilities. That is to say that the state gives you rights and in return you have an obligation of responsibility to it. This places the state as an external entity separate of the individual.
Cameron however is not saying that at all. His call for personal responsibility (and social responsibility) is fundamentally different because it does not make it a conditional response to the state's power. He is, essentially, arguing for a state that exists because of its individuals, rather than despite of. Thus personal and social responsibility should be framed in cultural terms rather than through the application of legal positivist principles to social policy (or what some might call social engineering).
The image above shows this structural difference between Cameron and Blair. Arguably the former believes that individuals make the state, and the response to social problems must lie with individuals (whom wihtout which the state is nothing and cease to be anyway). Meanwhile the structure of the latter places the state on a pedestal. The state in Blair's world exists external of the individuals that make it up.
Cameron's philosophical structure therefore results in the position, quite rightly, that the state overriding policy is that it should not, does not and cannot have a policy for everything. The responsibility of individuals who make up the civil society which creates the governmental structure of the state are the key to social problems, not the state itself. It's classic bottom-up politics, versus the top-down approach of the Left.
N.B. The above image is a representation of conceptual structure. The size of the circles are arbitrary.