David Cameron has said tackling the “broken society” is back at the top of his agenda following last week’s riots. This is indeed good news as clearly there are some underlying issues to deal with. In his speech today he also highlighted the fact that he would ‘turn around’ the lives of 120,000 of the most troubled families. In fact he said he will put “rocket boosters” under
the families the efforts to turn round these difficult social units in the wake of recent rioting. This was an interesting statement because, quite frankly, it’s a tall order. He went on,
We need more urgent action, too, on the families that some people call ‘problem’, others call ‘troubled’. The ones that everyone in their neighbourhood knows and often avoids
The first question from the press [the BBCs Ross Hawkins] referred to the figure and how this was going to be quantifiably measured. It would be safe to say he didn’t answer that one head on. He cited some of the root causes of this ‘broken society’ were children without fathers, schools without discipline and communities without control.
Boris Johnson writing in the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend suggested that many of the rioters arrested had ‘brushed with the law’ before,
The overwhelming majority, of course, came from the lower socio-economic groups, from the ranks of those who have been left the furthest behind; and the most recent figures I have seen suggest that 69 per cent of those charged have previous convictions.
Back to that speech then. He went on to talk about his appointment of entrepreneur Emma Harrison last year as a “family champion” to lead a drive to get workless families back into employment. Her research pointed to about 125,000 families that had never worked, I assume that’s ever? What! Apparently bureaucracy had held back her work in this area; but then there’s nothing like four days of rioting to focus political will.
His ‘big society’ is in fact lots of very small ones. Some law abiding, some not. Some black and some white. Some affluent, some poor. But in fact there are no generalisations to make here. The fact of the matter is that lots of folk have low self esteem and no self respect, mix these two together and you have a potent brew that will smack you in the face if you look at them the wrong way.
So forget about support groups, baton rounds, longer prison sentencing and more social workers. Address self respect and self esteem and then you will have a society to be proud of.
BTW – Do they have pink wheelie bins in London?
Born and living in Northern Ireland, I’m a Lecturer by trade and a pragmatic Unionist by design. Interests include Middle Eastern / African politics, British cinema and sea fishing!