Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 25 January 2010

Cameron will regret his "Broken Britain" rhetoric

David Cameron has been talking about "Broken Britain" for a long time now. He frequently raises the issue and did so again recently regarding the horrific Edlington torture case.

I do not think Britain is "broken". In fact crime has generally fallen in the last few years. However the public do not perceive that is that case and a recent survey showed that most people actually think crime has risen in recent times. The truth is though that there are pockets of deprivation and very large social inequalities which the official figures disguise to some extent. The circumstances in which the boys who perpetrated the torture in this case were brought up have been well covered in the media and I do not doubt that sadly there will be other children currently being brought up in such circumstances right now.

Of course just because crime is falling does not mean we should not try our hardest to eliminate the sort of problems that led to this tragic situation. However we are dealing with deeply embedded and in some cases intractable social problems. Nothing I have seen from David Cameron suggests that he has policies that will end these problems and herein lies his problem.

I well remember Tony Blair as Shadow Home Secretary in 1993 commenting on the Jamie Bulger murder case. He made similar comments to the ones that Cameron is currently making. In fact Cameron's response seems to be emulating the politician that he most closely resembles in this respect. But of course Blair was not able to eliminate these deep seated problems in our society and as much as I hope that Cameron would be able to were he Prime Minister it is an extremely tall order and he is leaving himself a very big hostage to fortune.

Let's imagine that Cameron becomes PM in a few months time. I can well imagine that in 3 or 4 years time there could be another horrendous case such as the Edlington one and at that point who would Cameron blame? The media will be justified in blaming him directly, after all he said he was going to fix it, just as Blair did and even if crime has been reduced further under his government he will get no credit for it as he is hoist by his own petard.

I wish it was not like this. This way the media is able to continue with their narrative that things are constantly getting worse even when they are not. Cameron is playing straight into this and will come to regret the way he has approached this issue because the narrative will eventually come back to bite him.


Grk! said...

Please don't call James Bulger "Jamie".

Daily Referendum said...

Every single one of my mates and work mates think that Britain is broken. Do you live in the same country as us? I don't know anyone who doesn't say that they would emigrate if it was possible.

Labour can fudge statistics, but they can't fudge real life.

Anonymous said...

emigration is possible. whats stopping you?

SEO被リンク said...

Emigration? Where are you going?

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Oh joy! Yes! Let us pretend its not broken at all. Life is both easier and more pleasant that way and there is no need for politicians to worry us by confronting the issues that matter.

I have never lived in a time when so many people express such extensive despair. This is frequently manifested in the notion of emigrating, just as Daily Referendum alludes above. What is stopping me emigrating mostly is the currency rate of exchange. I have, however, learned another language in the last couple of years in preparation.

Cameron may well regret his words in due time, but we will regret more ignoring and choosing politicians who ignore that to which his words refer.

Bernard Salmon said...

Daily Referendum: it would help if you could set out what you mean when you say Britain is broken. What does 'Broken Britain' actually mean in practice? I would say Britain is a long way from being similar to countries such as Somalia or Afghanistan, both of which could justifiably be said to be 'broken'. Is 'Broken Britain' anything more than clever marketing speak designed to play on people's fears, without offering any concrete solutions as to how things can be improved? No-one is saying the UK doesn't have problems, but to say it is 'broken' seems to me to be without foundation, unless you can convince me otherwise.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

@ BS - you ask "Is 'Broken Britain' anything more than clever marketing speak designed to play on people's fears, without offering any concrete solutions as to how things can be improved?"

and the answer seems to be "YES".

See for example which states inter alia "I was determined that the Group’s work should be rooted in a deep first-hand knowledge of the problems we were addressing.

Over 18 months we consulted in excess of 2,000 individuals and organisations, held around 3,000 hours of hearings and, through YouGov, accessed approximately 50,000 demographically selected people on the key issues.

We spoke to drug addicts and people who grew up in broken homes, taking evidence and costing our findings.

Our interim ‘state of the nation’ report Breakdown Britain detailed the nature and extent of social breakdown, and our analysis of its causes. ......[b]In July last year, the Policy Group published our final, 670 page report, Breakthrough Britain, which contained 200 policy proposals. [/b]"

Anonymous said...

If Cameron means a socially divided Britain then I agree. We live in a country where only the wealthy can ensure their children can have a first class education. He middle classes can at least ensure their children have a decent education, the 'under class' will need to be satisfied with a sink school. We wonder why we have a divided nation.
Our competitors in Europe and Japan have not made the same mistake.

Bernard Salmon said...

CRM: As I said, nobody is denying that this country does have some very deep-rooted social problems (many of them made worse by the last Tory government), but the question is whether that justifies the rhetoric of 'Broken Britain'. I think we should be sceptical of such sweeping claims.