Broken Britain?

I was disheartened at how quickly the appalling story of Edlington – where two young boys, aged 10 and 11, under the care of the local authority attacked two other boys and subjected them to what surmounts as torture almost to the point of murder – turned into a party political debate about ‘Broken Britain’.

Firstly, there is no doubt that the case indicated is sickening. I’m sure that mistakes were made by professionals – as much as been said openly. But for the leader of the Conservative Party to extrapolate, as he did in a speech last week, that it indicates that society in Britain is ‘broken’ and lays the blame on the current government, reeks of mean-minded opportunism and a poor understanding and analysis of the country today.

We shouldn’t forgot what the previous Conservative government did to break society and to break Britain – from the sell-off of social housing which has led to increased overcrowding and a more desperate rush for the homes that are available to the miners strike and breaking of the industrial base of the north of England, leading to greater divides between the North and South and the promotion of the ‘me’ culture.

6 thoughts on “Broken Britain?

  1. You are right to accuse Cameron of opportunism. Others have pointed out the simiarities between his speech on Edlington and Blair’s remarks in 2003 on the Bulger case. A party in opposition for many years, laying blame at the feet of the government.

    However, I disagree with the conclusions you draw. We need to resist the moral panic. The fact that we instinctively think back to a case seventeen years ago shows how rare these cases are. We have tabloid media that loves child tragedies – the Mail and the Express have kept the Madeleine McCann story going for almost three years – but if society really had broken down, there would be a new one every month.

    I don’t want to dispute your class-based analysis, but I do think your narrative highlights the extent to which social workers view their clients as “The Other”. As you point out, there’s plenty of people leading compassionate, decent, ethical lives on low incomes. The challenge, as Jenni Russell suggested in the Sunday Times yesterday, is to look at the whole question of how government spends money on interveneing in people’s lives, and its habit of stigmatising people and treating them as ‘problems’.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Sadly politics is a game of carictures as they know there is far more power in a one word headline than an in-depth analysis.

  3. What really struck me was the way the new(ish) leader of Doncaster council vowed to root out the social workers responsible wherever they now are….

    This is a social and a structural issue. Surely there should be a public inquiry but also it’s a situation where the family had no chance, ever of making good.

  4. Cameron has to jump on things to blame tyhe government for. How else will he distract us from the reality that he has no coherent policies to talk about?

    You’re right though – an opportunist, disingenious, cynical and quite frankly sordid misuse of a real human trauma for party political purposes.

    Well said.


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