Saturday, August 13, 2011

Facing Up to The Task Ahead

Watching the re-run of this week's Parliamentary debate on the riots, I was left with the feeling that MPs were struggling in their efforts to understand the social dynamics that lay behind it.

There have been a number of good TV debates this week. Harriet Harman blamed the riots on Conservative policies, while Michael Gove, the Education Minister, tersely pointed out that Labour had overseen the steady collapse of the family for over a decade, with her as Minister watching over the dismantling of the institution. In a recent survey 49 per cent of British parents did not know where their children were in the evenings or with whom.

Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt, were Labour's ideological enemies of the family and the leaders of the Party's radical feminist wing, arguing in pamphlet after pamphlet that “It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life, or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion.” After decades of agitation, which influenced social policy as well as social workers, their attack on men and their role in modern life has reached its nadir in Tottenham. Local MP David Lammy put it bluntly last week: “We are seeing huge consequences of the lack of male role models in young men’s lives"

Ironically and as Peter Hitchens, who I mentioned previously and others on the right have argued, socialist governments everywhere are notoriously anti-family and anti-tribe in principle, because if you follow Marxist theory, loyalty to the state comes first and the presence of a strong family unit is an impediment to the Orwellian concept of central political control. We could of course argue such matters until the country sinks around our ears but Britain, a class-ridden society, has, for the last sixty years been a testing ground for many failed experiments; multi-culturalism being the last and possibly the most damaging blow to an already fragile social fabric. According to the ONS, of the 1.8 million new jobs created over the Labour years, 99 per cent went to immigrants. Since David Cameron came to power, the figure is 82 per cent.

We can talk in terms of tough sentencing, as our Thanet North MP, Roger Gale, asked the Prime Minster last week but this is in the hands of the magistrates and the local courts and with the UK's prison population now at an all time high, we have to face up to the fact that many, if not most convicted rioters will either 'walk' on appeal or have community service orders. This is unless the crime was serious enough to warrant a prison term. In regard to the juveniles involved, the courts and the society they serve are more or less impotent and the kids and their families know it.

Politicians need to cease wringing their hands and confront the unthinkable. The overwhelming evidence that in our liberal society, soft sentencing is no longer a deterrence either to juveniles of those at its fringes, a lost generation, who have no sense of personal responsibility as you and I would understand it, nothing to lose and are quite unconcerned by a criminal record,as they have no intention of working and plan to live-off the state for the rest of their lives.

Making changes before this happens again requires an effort of political consensus, will and energy from all parties that I fear does not exist. Conservatives want a tougher regime, Liberal Democrats will block anything that appears too harsh and Ed Miliband was bought-up a Marxist and will be content to wait it out, make promises and lay the blame at the feet of the coalition policies as his deputy Harman did on Newsnight.

What do readers think I wonder as the public at such times often show more sense and speak more bluntly than the politicians


Peter Checksfield said...

Violent criminals should be sentenced to hard labour, not just cosy prisons where they can sit around playing cards & watching TV at the tax payers expense. I'm sure seeing chain gangs preparing roads & railways will deter a few people.

I'm slightly concerned though that a family have apparently been evicted from their council house because someone living there as been ACCUSED of taking part in the riots. Surely they should wait until the person is actually convicted (what happens if he's found innocent?).

Penelope said...

I thought this article shed light on the causes if not the answers:

2mystified said...

Pull out of the EU. Restore capital and corporal punishment. Compulsory church attendance on Sundays. Restore National Service. Contraceptive pill to only be available to married women. Restore traditional pub hours. Abolish Sunday trading. Restore the Lord Chamberlain and censorship. Proscribe the Labour Party. Ban Trade Unions. Close the Daily Mirror. Ban pop music. Ban electronic games and 18-rated films. CCTV cameras in every street. Abolish parole. Make the trains run on time. Beatify Margaret Thatcher. Make the Mail on Sunday compulsory reading. Peter Hitchens for Prime Minister. Richard Littlejohn as Deputy. Works of Salazar, Franco and Pinochet to be taught in schools.

Anonymous said...

the only point that i think the last person is right on and that is put them in the army it did me no harm when i was 18 /19 i think it will make men of them but then you will get the few people who will say that is wrong if all the do gooders took a step back and let the right poeple do there work this country would be a better place so stop patting them on the head and make them work or stop there money
its a tough world out there and do awaywith all the do gooders

Anonymous said...

The army clearly wouldn't be of any help to their grammar 12:27.

Anonymous said...

I worked many years back with men who had been birched,they all said they would never ever go back for a second helping and I think that is what is needed now to stamp out these young out of control thugs,I did my national service as well and at that time Colchester prison was where they sent these type of youths they always came back very subdued,the forces now are completly different and need quality men I certainly would not want to have to rely on these brainless morons they need to be caned publicly and humilated in front of the people they have wronged,at the moment people are frightened of these young thugs and it is time the tables were turned and the thugs become frightened of the people.

mingles4all said...

The whole thing is just yet another excuse for the unproductive chatterers out there - politicians, sociologists, professors of obscure subjects at ex-polytechnic universities, journalists, TV presenters and others who serve no real purpose - to waste endless hours discussing the matter to death. The only real difference between this and other previous such events was the use of smartphone technology to keep the police on the back foot. It is highly unlikely that anyone contributing to this blog will have anything original to add - the original posting itself is based on 10 year old journalism - so we would be a lot better off celebrating England becoming world number one at something - and in so emphatic a style.

Anonymous said...

While I don't doubt the army's ability to show offenders the errors of their ways, I don't see why they should be lumbered with politicians social policy failures.

Human rights stopped the Isle of Man from using the birch, which seemed a sensible, cost effective punishment. Break the rules, trousers down, birched, punishment over.

Graeme Simpson said...

What a load of hyperbole and overblown nonsense! Anyone with half a brain can drive a coach and horses through some of these half baked, conspiracist, right-wing opinions (Peter Hitchens!? fer chrissakes!). Show us where policy over the last 14 years has adversely affected the family against policy which has assisted it. Show us where multi-cultural policy has been prescribed in order to create an underclass of Black,White and Asian youth who feel more comfortable in gangs than they do in school or work.

Do that and I bet someone can show you more valid evidence of how 30 years of Neoliberal policy, carried out by both Tories and New Labour, has driven and glorified rampant consumerism, easy credit and lack of social responsibility, bringing about the sort of greed and selfish individualism that have helped cause the recent disturbances. And as for the idea that this sort of problem started exactly at the point where Tony Blair and New Labour came to power, well that is just ridiculous.

The stuff I'm reading, from both Tory and Labour sides, doesn't get to the root problems of why our society produces people hell bent on destroying their own communities in order to satisfy their own base human urges.

This is not the time for tribal point scoring but I bet we're going to endure some pretty ridiculous rubbish, as spouted by people who have never experienced what it is like growing up in the inner-city.

Graeme Simpson said...

Instead of regurgitating the likes of Peter Hitchens, who most commentators on both left and right think is 'nanas, have a read of this, which I've heard many people recommend:

DrM. said...

I think the problem Graeme is that a coach and horses isnt required given that the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

There's very little doubt that a liberal process that began after Thatcher and the riots at Broadwater farm, accelerated dramatically under Blair.

As for Hitchins, he's one side of an argument with Aaronvitch at the other end of the political spectrum. Both shared their views over the last week and both concluded we have a problem but disagreed on where the responsibility lies.

DrM. said...

The Telegraph column is a good one Graeme and offers a valid argument.

I don't think I regurgitated Hitchens but simply referenced him as worth a revisit

Anonymous said...

What was the cause of the 1981 riots then, Harold Wilson's or Margaret Thatcher's policies? I know which one I'm more inclined to believe.

yogi bear said...

Being in the army will make them behave better? Oh yes. Our boys treatment of political prisoners certainly proves that.
Restrict contraception to married women? That's a joke right? Along with the rest of that post.Haha.
Hard labour and chain gangs were prevalent in 30's America and we all know what a peaceful society that was.
To believe that thugs are not afraid is a fundamental misunderstanding.
If we are prepared to thrive at the cost of US style deprivation, then we must be prepared for US style policing and US style imprisonment. Sounds like most of you here are ready for that so good luck with it.

mingles4all said...

Not regurgitating Hitchens? God, until your mate took you to task you were practically ramming it down our throats!
0809, Hitchens blames the contraceptive pill, amongst many other things, for the present ills in society. I think that poster, who must have had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek ("get the trains running on time" bloody hell) got the effect he wanted!

DrM. said...

As your's is a new Google identity, devoid of any information, I'm tempted to assume you are the familiar suspect, which is not unreasonable, as most readers have better things to do on a Sunday morning than read and comment on my weblog.

Anyway, I would suggest that if people want to grasp the full scope of Hitchens's argument and the point he makes on contraception and its impact on the social fabric of the sixties, they should read his book and come to their own conclusions.

As for 'ramming it down people's throats', I've mentioned him and I've mentioned Aaronvitch and Harman too but ommitted to mention Enoch Powell or Michael Foot!

I'm off to the Spitfire Museum airshow and suggest you do the same. It's much more fun than arguing here.

Graeme Simpson said...

What "evidence" though DrM? You blame multicultarlism, liberal values, family breakdown and immigration for the disturbances but with no supporting evidence. I could just as easily blame Lizards from the planet Mong and say the evidence is out there.

The multicultaralism argument is rolled out every time ethnic minorities are involved in anything (something the BNP and EDL love to do, surprisingly not), so much so that it's become a cliche. There is no firm evidence that this is an overwhelming cause of fractured communities but racism, low paid jobs and a sense of alienation and hopelessness do play their part in disenfranchising parts of the inner city.

You'll also find that Broadwater Farm happened while Thatcher was in power, as did the reckless charge into Neoliberalism and it's inherent values of selfishness and greed. Every government since then has carried on her project, allowing Consumerism and worship of money to become the new religion. Funny, isn't it, that looting became the focal point of the riots.

As for Aaronovitch being at the other end of the spectrum from Hitchens?! My god, Aaronovitch is about as much to the Left as Tony Blair wasn't. Hitchens is nothing more than an antagonistic provocateur of the Right, taking his line from almost everything the religious Right in the States cough up, and they are a bunch of idiots to say the least. He's been found wanting on so many of his rants and is considered by many to be nothing more than a blowhard.

You can do better than this if you want to seriously analyse what has happened over the past week and I think you owe it to yourself and the people you serve in Thanet to offer better.

DrM. said...

Very kind of you to value my opinion but I'm sure the good people of Thanet can, I'm sure, survive without further analysis from me on the subject as there's more than enough of it running across the media to choose from.

You have one view, I have another and another 60 million people or so have their own variations of the same.

"You pay your money and you take your pick"

Graeme Simpson said...

Fair enough, we all have opinions but I like mine to come with more evidence and to be slightly less reactionary. I don't think you're the sort of bloke who lies to the right of Enoch Powell but you can end up sounding like one if you aren't careful.

You recommend we all go out and read Hitchens but can I recommend two books that come without the baggage of point scoring, right-wing evangelising:

Tony Judt's 'Ill Fares The Land' and John Naish's 'Enough: Breaking Free From The World Of More'.

The best two books I've read recently about Britain in the early 21st Century.

DrM. said...

Thank you Graeme and I want to get to grips with:

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

john kirby said...

From John Kirby-do not blame the magistrates for this - as having served as one for 15 years locally -we are subject to sentencing guidelines that are subject to appeal if stepped outside. The law needs changing to ensure that magistrates and the judiciary have the tools and support to give sentences that would reflect the seriousness of the crime - but with referral orders for children and asbos which are worn as a badge of achievement - the whole area of sentencing guidelines needs looking at. Magistrates deal with over 80% of current crime and have responded to the current situation by sending many of the cases to Crown Court where stiffer sentences are available and hopefully will be used. The long term solution though is a total re-think of sentencing guidelines in all areas of crime.