Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fantasy Island

Grounded by the imminent arrival of traditional British Bank Holiday weather, I'm scanning through the Sunday papers this morning. Among the stories that caught my eye was one in the Mail on Sunday, an excerpt from the book, Fantasy Island, by Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson, which explores the many myths of Blair's Britain, with some interesting facts. Among them, "Between 1992 and 1999, our fastest-growing occupation was hairdressing" and "Britain is not a creative economy, but a cooking, cleaning and call-centre economy in which millions are toiling away in low-paid, low-skilled jobs."

If you don't wish to feel depressed, then don't read it but then in other papers, we have news that police will have anti-terror new powers to stop people within weeks - part of the Prime Minister's legacy - and that among the new powers the authorities have is one to lock people up in a mental institution indefinitely if they are seen as presenting a danger to the state; a popular device in the old Soviet Union. If the same rule could be done to crazy politicians of all parties then at least it might appear fair to the public at large!

And in The Observer, worries that Britain is 'sleepwalking' towards US-style segregation of schools along racial lines , revealed by government figures that show many towns are developing schools that are overwhelmingly white, Asian or black.

The Conservatives, last night outlined a plan to reverse the segregation - setting targets to ensure white and Asian pupils are educated together but the solution on offers appears to lie in targetted integration, which sounds vaguely like the "bussing" which created so many problems in the United States and which I am sure may have the same result here if it is tried. That's not to say that we should not work to prevent segregation but the environment in many UK cities is such that it is almost unavoidable, raising much more worrying questions over the nature of an increasingly divided society in years to come.

The fact of the matter is that nobody appears to have a practical answer to a problem that reflects human nature and the way in which groups with a common identity or ethnic background tend to congregate. What would you suggest?

4 comments:

Doctor Doom said...

"Among the new powers the authorities have is one to lock people up in a mental institution indefinitely if they are seen as presenting a danger to the state."

How does this differ in principle from imposing a curfew on innocent under-sixteens in Broadstairs?

Is this not what Cllr Wells would call “a genuine attempt to nip potential trouble in the bud” (Quick Dispersal, Friday) and “not undertaken blithely or lightly, but with serious intent and only with good cause... a tactic, proven to work elsewhere” (ibid)?

Anonymous said...

Good on you Dr Doom! What seems to elude our present political masters, is what it is they are trying to preserve. A generation fought for 5 long years and accepted the inevitable casualties that fighting 'tyranny' would cost in order to preserve such simple freedoms and principles as 'habeus corpus'; 'equality under the law'; 'innocent until proven guilty'. I am happy to accept the risk of being a casualty of terrorism (the odds are less than being involved in a traffic accident) and perhaps many more of my fellow countrymen and women are like-wise, than see the power of the State grow out of control. If this Government's hysterical response to the present 'threat' is not curtailed by the Judiciary and Parliament as a whole , the very type of society we are trying to preserve will be lost in the process. Some might argue that what is going on is actually more sinister. One begins to wonder if the hyperbole employed by this Government is to distract the 'plebs' from its failings in other areas and to avoid the spotlight of criticism dwelling to long over the fact that Mr Brown was as much party to the illegal war in Iraq as his present 'master'. I read references all the time to Orwell's 1984 and 'Big Brother' and yet it was not the surveillance that was most scary but the way the Ministry of Truth manipulated HISTORY; "Oceania was at war with Eastasia when Winston (Smith) was arrested. In the week he was arrested Oceania was not at war with Eastasia at all but at war with Eurasia and had been for 4 years."
The Labour Government's stance appears to be very similar: The IRA were never terrorists and Martin McGuiness was not a PIRA commander in Derry. The "greatest threat to our security since the 2nd World War is Al Queda and Muslim Fundamentalists". Scary stuff!

On the local issues, I would rather have vandalism and be mugged in Broadstairs than have 'youth curfews' and 'dispersal orders' enacted by TDC. How blindly we move towards a repressive State when well meaning guys like Doc Moores and Chris Wells, as our Councillors, allow such folly.

DrMoores said...

Not quite sure that I had "allowed" anything but neither can I concede that the attempt to keep the lid on juvenile disorder in Broadstairs is on a par with a greater loss of personal liberty seen under this government. You might wish to see what I have said about such matters with a broader "Google" search on the subject against my name.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Ed to include you in this but as a Tory Councillor in a Tory TDC, I wrongly assumed you were happy with it. I am not so sure that we can separate Broadstairs from the national picture. The principle is the issue here, not whether it is applied to 'scroat' in Broadstairs bent on mischief or a matyr bent on self immolation with a few of us 'kaffirs'.