Friday, May 25, 2007

Keep The Faith ...

The Guardian continues the slo-mo dripfeed of anti-faith school propaganda.

"People would rather see places at oversubscribed faith schools decided by lottery than by religious judgments, a poll for the Sutton Trust education charity revealed today."

They're weeing off Beachy Head into a Force Nine south-westerly. Even this government isn't likely to be stupid enough to attack the faith schools, which are generally the best-performing non-selective schools. Far from it. My information is that instead the DFES are continually trying to divine their magical secrets, in the hope of replicating their success in more godlesss environments. So you see they're pretty damn stupid. They think it may be posssible to chuck away the religious bathwater and magically retain the academic baby.

Not just academic success either. I've noted before how the majority of Asian (mainly Muslim) parents in the nearest town prefer the Catholic comp to the non-Catholic alternative. From a Muslim parental viewpoint its a no-brainer to send their kids to somewhere where the school nurse is unlikely to be dishing out the morning after pill and where fisting is still off the curriculum.

This preference is apparently a national one, and the DFES are wondering why (see previous paragraph for their lack of intelligence). Not only that, but (a/c/t the DFES) the Asian kids report less conflict and bullying in left-footed schools, and get better grades.

The government has more things to worry about than picking a fight with the most successful non-selective schools in the country. And in a few years the babies of the lovely Anna and all the Danutas and Zofias will be in reception class. I don't think we have to worry just yet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Is This ...

... the saddest thread in the known universe ?

"Charlene Downes was not even from a decent or important family"

The murder trial opened today.

A schoolgirl was murdered by a fast food shop owner who joked that she had been "chopped up" and had gone into the kebabs, a court heard today. Charlene Downes, 14, was killed by former Blackburn man Iyad Albattikhi, 29, owner of Funny Boyz fast food shop in Blackpool, who it is alleged had sex with the youngster he described as "kinky", Preston Crown Court was told.

Charlene was one a number of young white girls who went to to have sex with older men who worked in the fast food shops, Tim Holroyde QC, prosecuting, told the jury. Charlene, from Buchanan Street in Blackpool, was "well and happy", the court heard, but her home life was "chaotic".

Expelled from school, she spent her time hanging around shops on the Blackpool Promenade, and was last seen on the early evening of Saturday November 1 2003. After kissing her mother goodbye she went off on her own - and "vanished off the face of the earth", Mr Holroyde said.

A missing persons inquiry began but police later launched a murder investigation after information "leaked out" that the girl had been "killed and chopped up", the court heard. No trace of Charlene's body has ever been found.

Strangely, has a large amount of irrelevant detail that the BBC doesn't think we need to know. Poor Charlene sounds a bit of a Mary-Anne Leneghan.

Charlene became a "familiar figure" hanging around the shops where she would sometimes get free food.

"In addition," Mr Holroyde said, "she was one of a number of adolescent white girls who sometimes went at night to the alleyway behind the restaurants which they called by the unflattering name, Paki Alley. "She and others went there to meet much older men from the restaurants, and it seems perfectly clear that there was at times some sexual activity."

Another everyday story of underclass folk. And that's just what the accused think, too.

In one tape, Reveshi speaks of his "surprise" that the police were bothering to investigate because "Charlene Downes was not even from a decent or important family".

Albattikhi is heard to say: "For some f****** bitch. She was a f****** Maiiah. A f****** horrible Maiiah."

Mr Holroyde said police had not discovered what "Maiiah" meant but it was a contemptuous reference to the dead girl.

In another tape, Reveshi said the words "eat the body", the court was told.

"That remark is said in a joking tone of voice, but it is extraordinary, is it not, for a man who claims to have had no knowledge of Charlene Downes to be talking in that way of her body being eaten," Mr Holroyde added.

Albattikhi is heard on one tape saying, "If they find anything I have f****** had it."

The trial continues. My money's on an acquittal for lack of evidence. Anybody up on Arabic/street slang who can translate 'Miah/Myah' ?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UN troops 'traded gold for guns'

This doesn't surprise me at all. What does surprise me is that it got out. Fair do's to the BBC.

Pakistani UN peacekeeping troops have traded in gold and sold weapons to Congolese militia groups they were meant to disarm, the BBC has learnt. These militia groups were guilty of some of the worst human rights abuses during the Democratic Republic of Congo's long civil war. The trading went on in 2005. A UN investigative team sent to gather evidence was obstructed and threatened.

The team's report was buried by the UN itself to "avoid political fallout".

Richard Ndilu, in charge of immigration at Mongbwalu airstrip, became suspicious in late 2005 when an Indian businessman arrived there and went to stay at the camp of the Pakistani peacekeepers. Alerted to this illegal trade by her officials, the District Commissioner of Ituri, Petronille Vaweka, went to Bunia airport to intercept a plane from Mongbwalu. She said her way was blocked by Congolese army officers, who refused to allow her to inspect the cargo.

"I knew they had gold because the price of gold increased when the Indians went to Mongwalu," she said. "When we wanted to verify what was inside the plane the pilot refused to allow us to enter the plane - me who was the chief, he refused! It was a big scandal."

This is from a witness statement given to the UN by a Congolese officer engaged in the disarming of the militia in the nearby town of Nizi:

"The officer expressed his regrets over the malpractices of a Pakistani battalion under the auspices of Major Zanfar. He revealed the arms surrendered by ex-combatants were secretly returned to them by Major Zanfar thereby compromising the work they had collectively done earlier. Repeatedly he saw militia who had been disarmed one day, but the next day would become re-armed again. The information he could obtain was always the same, that it would be the Pakistani battalion giving arms back to the militia."

This evidence was backed up by an interpreter working with the Pakistani battalion at Mongbwalu. On arriving at the Officer's Mess, the interpreter found two militia leaders - known as Kung Fu and Dragon. The interpreter said that the first question from Major Ali was to Kung Fu - asking him: 'What about the weapons I gave you? What about the weapons Monuc gave you?'

A UN investigation team arrived in Mongbwalu in August 2006. At first the Pakistani battalion there cooperated with them. But when they attempted to seize a computer with apparently incriminating documents on it a stand-off ensued. The Pakistanis surrounded the UN police accompanying the investigators with barbed wire and put two armoured personnel carriers outside their living quarters at a nearby Christian mission.

Thoroughly intimidated, the investigators were airlifted out of Mongbwalu.

Another Day ...

Another Home Office initiative overturned by the courts.

Controversial immigration rules aimed at stopping sham marriages are unlawful, says the Court of Appeal. Judges said the law breached the fundamental rights of immigrants subjected to the vetting. Last year three couples argued at the High Court that the home secretary had discriminated against them. Three senior judges have now agreed, saying ministers failed to find out if those marrying were genuinely in love or part of an immigration scam.

I imagine there'll soon be a form to fill in - "are you genuinely in love or is this part of an immigration scam ?"

And yet more Control Order abscondees. If you remember, Control Orders were brought in when the courts overturned a different Home Office Initiative.

The Home Office said six out of the 17 people on control orders have now absconded. Earlier on Wednesday, in a break with the practice adopted after the previous incidents, Mr Reid asked the High Court to lift the three men's anonymity to help with the police investigation.

Police described Lamine Adam as of north African origin, 6ft, slim, with a light complexion, short dark brown hair and last seen with a short beard. Ibrahim Adam is also of north African origin, 6ft 2in, slim with a light complexion and short dark brown hair. It later emerged their brother, Anthony Garcia, 25, was among those jailed last month at the Old Bailey for his part in a plot to build a homemade bomb capable of killing hundreds, the Met Police confirmed. They said Cerie Bullivant was white, 5ft 7in, slim with receding brown hair and brown eyes. It is understood he recently cut his hair very short.

I see that the Conservatives are accusing the Home Secretary of failing to protect the public. I'm not exactly sure what they're supposed to do. These guys are UK citizens and we don't do imprisonment without trial for UK citizens. We don't do it for Johnny Foreigner any more either, thanks to the Law Lords.

"if Frank Field was leader of Labour I’d vote for him over David Cameron any day"

So would I, mate. So would I.

The great man holds forth in the Telegraph :

Britain was once a self-governing commonwealth where the vast majority were brought up to offer other people the respect with which we would wish to be treated.

No, Frank - you've fallen for the myth of a golden age that never was. Don't you read the Guardian ?

Part of the liberal establishment has always denied this truth, but it has to be the starting point for any discussion of today's politics of behaviour. What this liberal elite of well-meaning, well-heeled individuals is loth to concede is that, by the time we moved into the 20th century, the full impact of Evangelicalism, and the secularisation of this great force by the Labour movement, developed a mass culture of respectability.

For 50 years or more, Britain's families taught the social skills necessary for a self-governing community. That culture is now ruptured. The Government is right to insist that a line has to be drawn against this rising tide of disorder, which is now so widespread that many decent citizens have given up reporting on it. The Government's strategy is, however, dangerously flawed. Its whole anti-social behaviour strategy is built to reflect the criminal justice system. The aim ought to be to keep society's new forms of protection as far away as possible from a centrally run justice system. We need, crucially, to build up a community's own self-defence, while at the same time trying to free as many of the new underclass as possible.

If the number of new, centrally directed initiatives were the criteria for success, Britain would have cracked the yob culture. In order to tackle what is in effect the breakdown of families - Britain's major social crisis - the Government has introduced 42 new Asbo-type powers. And that figure is no misprint. How can anyone implement a strategy that is changing on this scale?

Here is a real test for Gordon Brown in his intent to pass power back to the people. The Blair Government has resolutely refused to back the simple reform I have been advocating which will give communities the power once again to police their own neighbourhood. A local community has a right to go into court and ask the magistrates to bring before them an offending yob. The magistrates can issue a warrant, but, even if the whole community is in court demanding action, the magistrate has no power to enforce the warrant in what is deemed a private action.

The law needs to be changed so that magistrates can rule that the request for immediate action is a public matter. The police would then be required to enforce the warrant. The aim would be to bring the perpetrators of the disorder before the court that day.

Acting swiftly will often nip in the bud actions that, if allowed to fester, will only get worse. Such a reform would also devolve power back to what often are the grandmothers of a district. This one simple reform would also end the intolerable position whereby working-class people on the end of yobbish behaviour have to plead their case for action through middle-class intermediaries, such as youth justice teams.

Tell it like it is !

The rise of yobbish behaviour is the flip-side of the breakdown of families
. Who in the community can play the role of the surrogate parent? The only people who can do this are the police.

They ought to have the power, like a football referee, to issue warnings and then, if the warnings are ignored, to impose the restriction on the behaviour there and then. The offender would have the freedom to go to court, but, hopefully, bad behaviour would again be nipped in the bud. This way, most young offenders will be kept out of the criminal justice system.

My worry here is - are the police up to the job of what is basically a social worker with teeth ? And are the courts up to the job of enforcing the restrictions ? And will there be enough prison places to make examples of those who will want to push the envelope ?

Making examples is tremendously important. One of the disasters of the move towards an individual rights-based culture is that the effect of example is discounted. It may be (I don't really believe this) that the Howard League are right, that banging up poor Kyle confirms him as a criminal. But if a few kids on Kyle's estate take note of his fate and decide that maybe he's not a good role model, the overall effect is a good one. (In fact our rulers are quite happy to make examples if it's something they really care about - like racist attacks by whites. They believe it works too.)

This strategy must also be matched by one to help the young underclass free themselves from the appalling predicament in which they live. Again we must resist the strategy that is imposed from the centre. The aim must be to empower individuals.

Last year, nearly 30,000 young people left school after 12 years of state investment costing £1 billion without a single GCSE pass. This is an extreme example but it illustrates a more general truth. The political class has failed to devise an adequate system of secondary education.

Bang ! Every one a hit !

Locking up children longer in education - the Government's new aim - will not work for the most disadvantaged. We need to move to a leaving certificate that would allow young people to move into work as soon as they have basic skills. These young people should then be able to draw down later the value of the education that currently fails them.

This reform would give breathing space for the huge revolution in thought and deed that is required to begin a national network of successful secondary schools.

Anyone interested in how we got here should read Families Without Fatherhood (pdf) nby Norman Dennis.

Also at today's Telegraph, this wonderful Garland cartoon.

Trades Unions - Then And Now

Today the Unison union campaigns for "undocumented migrants" - illegal immigrants - to be given British citizenship. Effectively they're campaigning for open borders, despite the effects of mass immigration on its members wages.

"The availability of migrant labour had stopped pay settlements picking up more sharply in response to higher inflation ..."

It wasn't always like that. Seventy years ago Government and unions were very cautious about allowing even the most deserving of refugees to compete for jobs with the indigenous people.

"They will not be allowed to take the jobs of British workers here or receive unemployment benefit. The Trades Unions are satisfied about that."

600,000 is about the gross inward immigration for a single year now. About 30,000 German (mostly Jewish) refugees came, including the parents of quite a few friends, over about six years between 1933 and 1939. Many of those who couldn't get out didn't survive.

Even the generous reponse of the British public to the Baldwin appeal raised the hackles of those who thought charity should begin at home. If people are willing to give to strangers, they asked, what about our own unemployed ?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Defame fathers, create crime ?

This is an address given by Norman Dennis to the ManKind Conference on violent young males in October 2000.

Defame fathers, create crime?

ManKind Conference
Friends House, Euston Road, London
28 October 2000

When we discuss ‘violence’, just as when we discuss any other phenomenon, if the parties to the discussion are referring to different things that is a sure recipe for fruitless argument and permanent disagreement.

Usually ‘intellectuals’ have been concerned with two things concerning phenomena. One is to reveal similarities between apparently disparate events and things. The other is to go beyond similarities and reveal differences that have human consequences.

It is striking that in certain vital areas of human life our social-affairs intelligentsia has become enamoured of the first. They have become preoccupied with the clever-silly business of showing that phenomena that ordinary people take to be in their essence different, because of their profoundly different roles in human life, are the same.

Two of the most striking instances of this are of central concern to this conference.

The obliteration of distinctions between different modes of sexual activity and between different childrearing arrangements.

One is ‘the family’. Before the third quarter of the last century, it was rare indeed to find any society that did not make a sharp distinction between types of lone parent. There was, on the one hand, the situation in which children were being brought up by one parent because one of the other married parents had died. On the other hand, there was the situation in which children were being brought up by one parent because the other parent had not subjected himself or herself to the socially approved form of ‘marriage’, (whatever ‘marriage’ might have been or is in the given society). The widow, for example, was in a radically different social category to the unmarried mother. In the past forty or fifty years, with more and more success, our social-affairs intelligentsia has succeeded in obliterating the distinctions.

'A family' is now generally any private household where there is a child. Indeed, the notion that ‘the family’ is essentially about children is lost, and ‘a family’ comes to mean any two people of any ‘orientation’ who are in a ‘stable’ sexual relationship, or who perhaps just like one another.

The demand is then raised that all the social arrangements made to encourage permanent marriage in the interests of children must be extended to all these ‘families’. In other words, permanent marriage in the interests of children ceases to be a preferred social form at all.

Inevitably, as Patricia Morgan has vividly demonstrated to us this morning, because children do worse outside the institution of permanent marriage, the state has to step in to make up the shortfall. With the exception of the family of permanent marriage, all ‘families’ according to the new definition thereby become the chief beneficiaries of tax concessions, social security benefits and other state arrangements. With rare exceptions, where the preference for the family of permanent marriage is usually in any case qualified into oblivion, public authorities are then prohibited from expressing any preference at all for the family of permanent marriage. As a negation of the political process and social policy-making in all other areas of life, no assessment of better or worse social forms must be permitted here. ‘Alternative’ families must not be ‘stigmatised’.

All this can be seen at its worst in the egregious mush and muddle of the government’s green paper, misleadingly but characteristically called "Supporting Families".[i]

In the week we heard that once every few seconds there is now rape, beating or stabbing due to ‘domestic violence’. Once every three days a woman is killed by ‘domestic violence’. The police, according to the report, receive 1,300 calls of victims of violence ‘in the home’, ‘more than half a million a year’. I have not seen the study. Though I’d be pleased to lose the bet, I am willing to wager that the study will not enable us to know what proportion of people in families of permanent marriage experience domestic assaults, as compared with the proportion people in ‘alternative’ families who experience domestic assaults.

The obliteration of the distinction between different kinds of violence

Whatever else a ‘State’ does, it is a potential user of violence. ‘The State is an association that, acting through laws promulgated by a government endowed to that end with supreme coercive powers, maintains, in a community territorially demarcated, the universal external conditions of social order.’ In some communities the use of violence by the agents of the State is not widely approved by the citizenry. In others there is widespread and deep support for the way in which the State uses it. A State exists to the extent that a set of people are accorded the right by the population to use publicly approved and publicly regulated force against all other users of force. It exists to the extent that it succeeds in maintaining the legitimacy of its monopoly of violence.

Thus it is quite right to say that British people are using violence far less in the year 2000 than they were when they were quelling the Indian Mutiny; or fighting the Second Afghan War; or shelling the German lines on the Somme in 1916; or firing on the crowd at Amritsar; or sinking the Bismarck, or bombing Hamburg, Dresden, Nagasaki or Hiroshima; or on an altogether different scale fighting the Provisional IRA before the current cease fire. There have been serious mistakes. There have been court-martials and Royal Commissions galore, there have been books without number, dealing with abuses of the violence at the disposal of the State.

If anyone says to me, ‘I’m against all violence. For me all violence is the same. Therefore there is less violence today so far as the population of this country are engaged in it or suffering from it’, then I concede the whole point. So far as I am concerned that is the end of any argument about the simple volume or magnitude of public and private violence today as compared with the past. All right, in London in the six months up to September there were 2,700 ‘street crimes’ where the police were actually able to charge or caution somebody — forget about the muggers who got away.[ii] But Londoners are not engaged in either a foreign or a civil war.

If we consider private violence alone, then what has historically been considered a crucial distinction has also here been obscured or obliterated. There was on the one hand the private violence that the State condoned or encouraged. Teachers were permitted to use a limited number of strokes of the cane, without excessive force, on the hand or the backside of a pupil where the intention was to maintain the good order of the class or school. Parents were permitted to smack their children where the intention was to make their children behave ‘properly’.

Again, some teachers abused their position out of bad temper, sadism or sexual perversion. Some parents were cruel. It may be, also, that good order and good conduct were not fostered by the use of the cane or the smack on the calf or the bottom, and that there were always better methods to bring up a child. Almost certainly there are better methods, if there are no pressures of time to get the message across. I always felt how fortunate I was, as compared with my own father, to have all the time in the world as a lecturer in universities of the old style to negotiate every point with my own children, and concede to them, or kid them or cajole them into leading good and productive lives.

A fight at a football match or in the back street or outside a pub, where one man was taking on someone who, let us say, had sworn in the presence of a woman or a child, was regarded as part of the rough and ready machinery of local social control. Although there are few reliable data on which to base any opinion on the matter, I would myself expect that that kind of violence, private violence in the defence of community values, has almost certainly diminished. What man or woman in his or her right mind now attempts to even admonish what he or she regards as the bad behaviour of others in public? He’s too likely to find he has no support from anyone else, and perhaps to get a knife in his neck or his head kicked in for his trouble. She will count herself lucky if all she gets for her trouble is a stream of obscene abuse.

I will willingly concede each claim that anyone would want to make about the high volume in the past of official violence, and the high volume of unofficial violence in the interests of the maintenance of the community’s values. I am concerned this afternoon neither with the multitude of contentious questions of psychology and social organisation that would lie behind such a claim, nor with the paucity of reliable facts that we would need to answer it.

Today I am concerned only with the violence that individuals or gangs inflict on other people in the pursuit of their own interests, whatever those private interests might be, money, glory, excitement or revenge.

The rise in private violence for private purposes

Many or most of you will be familiar with the book by Karl Marx’s collaborator, Frederick Engels, "The Condition of the Working Class". All of you will know the title of that famous book which depicts in the darkest shades all that was wrong with England in 1844. 'With the extension of the proletariat’, Engels writes, ‘crime has increased in England, and the British nation has become the most criminal in the world.’ He points out, however, that most offences are not of violence, but against property, ‘as in all civilised countries’.

He then shows how bad things were in England in 1844. ‘I look at a random heap of English journals lying before me’, he writes. ‘There is the Manchester Guardian for October 30, 1844, which reports for three days that in Salford a couple of boys had been caught stealing, and a bankrupt tradesman tried to cheat his creditors.’ In Ashton in the course of three days there were two thefts, one burglary, and one suicide. In Bury there was one theft. In Bolton there were two thefts and a revenue fraud. In Leigh in the course of three days there was one theft. In Oldham there was a theft, a fight between Irish women, a non-union hatter assaulted by union men, a mother beaten by her son, an attack upon the police, and a robbery of a church. In Stockport there was discontent of working men with wages, a theft, a fraud, a fight, and a wife beaten by her husband. In Warrington there was one theft, and one fight. In Wigan there was one fight, and one robbery of a church.

In London, Engels writes, the position is much worse so far as crime is concerned. In a single day, according to reports Engels gleaned from The Times, there was in the whole of London no fewer than one theft, one attack upon the police, a sentence upon a father requiring him to support his illegitimate son, the abandonment of a child by his parents, and the poisoning of a man by his wife.

I don’t care what you think about the figures. The point is that Engels thought that these are what the figures were, and that he thought that they were amazing and a portend of the end of civilisation as he knew it. ‘Similar reports’, he says, ‘are to be found in all the English papers’, sufficient evidence, if evidence were needed, that ‘in this country, social war is under full headway’. Would that last night’s Sunderland Echo or today’s Evening Standard contained nothing but ‘horrific’ tales of this kind and frequency!

In his Preface to the 1892 edition of "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844", Engels says that improvements since he wrote the book meant that the shocking state of things he had described belonged, in many respects, to the past.[iii]

Isn’t it strange, too, that in Engels’ short list of heinous crimes, domestic violence and male irresponsibility feature so prominently? We are constantly told that until, very recently, militant feminists began to drag us away from the socially applauded horrors of patriarchal barbarism, to which hitherto the memory of man runs not contrary, male domestic violence was entirely the norm, and no one condemned it except, sometimes, the female victim.

From the time of Engels’ "Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844" until its lowest point in 1911 the trend in the recorded rate of violent crime-- violent crimes per 100,000 of the population--was fairly steadily down. This was the case even though there was far deeper poverty than anyone experiences today. Working-class employment was precarious, with rapid fluctuations in the unemployment rates which in certain industries, such as shipbuilding, regularly reached heights that have not been experienced in this country since before the Second World War.

But drunkenness in the working class was diminishing, in the way it had diminished a few decades previously in the upper class. Police forces were being established. (According to present day commentators, more police explains any rise in crime.) The housing stock was being improved. Public health measures had been put in train. Art galleries, parks, municipal baths and libraries were being founded. From 1870 elementary schooling was universally available by law. Before the end of the century education was compulsory for young children, and the Board schools were free.

In the period between 1857 and 1906 the population of England and Wales rose by about 15 million, from 19 million to 34 million. The total number of offences against the person rose by only 228 cases, so that by 1906 there were 2,546 offences against the person.

What the figures show, commentators confirm. We discern this even in the fiction of the period. In the first of the Sherlock Holmes stories, A Study in Scarlet, the great detective explains his lethargy and drug taking to his new flat mate Dr Watson by saying that London was no place for a detective. There was no crime. I should like to be shown any contemporaneous comment that suggests during the late and early Edwardian period crime in England was increasing. In the first of the modern spy thrillers, The Riddle of the Sands, published in 1903, Erskine Childers, remarks in passing that all thoughtful observers of the time knew that the most striking feature of modern democracy was the improvement in the common sense conduct of the general population. Conspicuous proofs of this abounded in history, he wrote.[iv] Dean Inge, famed in his time as an unsentimental social critic, wrote in 1917 that the Great War had awoken a sense of fear for the integrity of the home and the safety of women and children. This was a feeling, he wrote, ‘to which modern civilised man had long been a stranger’.[v]

Between 1906 and 1991 population of England and Wales rose by about roughly the same figure, 17 million, from 34 million to 51 million. But the total number of offences against the person did not rise by roughly 228. It rose by 187,500, with a very marked shift upward from 1955, so that by 1991 there were 190,000 offences against the person. For every one offence in 1906, there were 75 in 1991. Engels’s startled response in 1844 to the reports of, by the standards of today, mainly trivial violent and other crimes - including domestic violence - in Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Stockport, Warrington, and London itself, is surely sufficient proof that the increase is not a statistical freak caused by people becoming more intolerant of violence since Engels’ time.
In the single year, 1990-1991, the rise in offences against the person was 35 times the total figure in 1906.

After the Great War, through the depressions of the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Second World War and its aftermath, the overall crime rate rose fairly steadily. By the early 1950s it was about four times its lowest rate of 1911. But by present-day standards even the figures for the 1950s were still extraordinarily low.

Those are the statistics. Were they confirmed or contradicted by the reports of contemporary observers? In 1944 George Orwell wrote approvingly of the ‘gentle-mannered, undemonstrative, law-abiding English’:

An imaginary foreign observer (he wrote) would certainly be struck by our gentleness; by the orderly behaviour of English crowds, the lack of pushing and quarrelling ...And except for certain well-defined areas in half-a-dozen big towns, there is very little crime or violence.[vi]

A few years later a noted anthropologist, Geoffrey Gorer, set out the problem he had to solve if he were to give an adequate account of the English national character. In public life today, he wrote, "the English are certainly among the most peaceful, gentle, courteous and orderly populations that the civilised world has ever seen ... the control of aggression has gone to such remarkable lengths that you hardly ever see a fight in a bar (a not uncommon spectacle in most of the rest of Europe or the USA), [and] football crowds are as orderly as church meetings. Still in 1955 it was this, to use Gorer's words, ‘orderliness, gentleness, and absence of overt aggression’ that puzzled the anthropologist and called for an explanation.[vii]

K.B. Smellie, a professor at the London School of Economics respected by and popular with the students of the late 1940s and early 1950s wrote of the English man [and woman] that: "There can be little doubt that the life of towns has steadily improved. ... Drunkenness has fallen steadily. So too has public violence. ... From the Yahoo habits of eighteenth-century London we have passed into an almost Houyhnhnm rationality of orderly processions and patient queues. And, almost certainly with the passing of violence, drunkenness and squalor, has gone much cruelty as well. Personal relations are more gentle and, as one observer has said 'the contemporary English would appear to have as unaggressive a public life as any recorded people'.[viii]

I was in school in the most inner city of Sunderland’s inner city schools in the 1930s, Green Terrace Elementary. As boys and girls we were taught to be honest and honourable far more than we were taught to be ‘clever’. We learned by heart the ballad that celebrated the conduct of Private Moyse. Moyse, was killed and his body thrown on a dung heap because when he was taken prisoner he refused to perform the Kowtow to the Chinese authorities.

Vain mightiest fleets of iron framed,
Vain those all-shattering guns,
Unless proud England keep untamed
The strong heart of her sons;
So let his name through Europe ring,--
A man of mean estate,
Who died, as firm as Sparta's king,
Because his soul was great.

Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, ‘The Private of the Buffs’

Fancy pumping that into boys! The same message was inculcated by tram conductors, park keepers, uncles, aunts, shopkeepers, in innumerable gestures and messages. A boy’s conduct, language and demeanour were judged mainly against this criterion. Was it appropriate to a manhood of responsible citizenship, mainly in the form of his ability and willingness to look after his own children and mother of his own children, under the same roof, for his adult lifetime?

Well, what is pumped or is seeped into boys today? Think of the contrast! The local school as a force for moulding the attitudes and motives of boys is now faced with the fierce competition of the global industries that sell entertainment. You’ll know the words of the current chart-topping sensation by Eminem, topping the charts because in many forms boys and young men are buying Eminem’s message:

I get the party crackin’ with the s*** that I be spittin’,
Hit and run, get it done, get the fun, split and run.
Got about fifty guns, and I love all of them the same.
Bang, bang.

A Guardian/ICM poll of 18-24 year olds published this morning shows that 7 per cent could name Milton’s greatest poem. But 79 per cent knew Eminem. You have only to read this morning’s editorial in the Guardian on these findings to see all that’s most complacent and shallow in contemporary intellectual life. The unstocked minds of the young are their asset because they can get all the information that they want on the internet! Surely there is a non sequitur here somewhere. Surely there is a need to worry if the messages that they actually seek and that in fact get through to them are those from Eminem and not those of Paradise Lost.

This is another area where the clever-silly social-affairs intelligentsia obliterates differences that ordinary people have always regarded as crucial. The most diverse categories of conduct are collapsed into the concept of ‘the macho man’, as if there was not the world of a difference between the manliness portrayed in Simon Agonistes or Cicero’s ‘A practical code of behaviour’,[ix] or the men who went down with the Birkenhead or went to sea in the mercantile marine at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, and the selfish oafs and ignoramouses celebrated in Eminem’s rant, or the boy muggers caught in the act on the CCTV cameras on Broadmead, Bristol, who you can see on BBC’s Panorama tomorrow night.

I’m not making the utterly ridiculous assertion that at any time in history most boys read Milton and Cicero or any other such high-flown stuff, though you can be sure that I’ll be accused of saying that. I am saying that the ideals so marvellously expressed by the custodians of our culture came down to boys in England in one form or another and through one channel another literally for millennia. All sorts of other messages and personal temptations competed with these ideals. But by and large in public life these ideals were in the ascendant. You have to hunt far and wide to discover them being advocated or upheld today. You’d have to hunt far and wide to find intellectuals who do not sneer at them.

Once established in the public mind, the increasingly denigrated image of the man as brutal husband and father was then unthinkingly and repetitiously presented as fact by clever-silly intellectuals in the universities and the media, and by naïve ‘progressives’ in politics, religion and the law. As a typical example the enlightened Cambridge don Peter Marris can be quoted. Dealing with a famous study of the slums in Salford, Marris says that the study showed that ‘fathers were petty tyrants, remote and harsh’.rxThose are this Marris’ words. What the book on the Salford slums actually said about slum fathers was that "Despite poverty and appalling surroundings parents brought up their children to be decent kindly and honourable and often lived to see them occupy a higher social place socially than they had ever known themselves; the greatest satisfaction of all. It is such people and their children who deny indignantly (and I believe rightly) that the slum life of the industrial North in this century, for all its horrors, was ever so mindless and uncouth as superficial play or novel would have later generations believe".

The book on Salford says that the dwellers in the slum had, en masse, little education. But there was ‘abundant evidence’, it says, of ‘intelligence, shrewdness, restraint and maturity’, and that very many families even in the worst districts remained ‘awesomely respectable’. Presumably Robert Roberts, the author of the Salford book, did not envisage that not only explicit fiction, but purported social-scientific fact from Cambridge dons would before long not only repeat the same falsehood, but should actually use his book to do so. What people like Marris depend on is a caricature of the ‘cruder and more moronic’ men who, in Roberts’ words, ‘set no standards’ and when they were sober knew their place as pariahs, even in the slum. Home, however poor, Roberts wrote, was the focus of all the child’s love and interests, and (quote) ‘songs about its beauties were ever on people’s lips’.[xi]

I am the very first to admit that years of relentless and ultimately wholly successful propaganda, aimed at denigrating men in general and fathers in particular, have relegated to antiquarian interest only such education and the effects it had on the pupils subjected to it before, during and for some years after my slum boyhood. Much worse was soon to come. In the 1970s and 1980s what had formerly been only a gradual, insidious undermining by insinuation of the prestige of the father’s role turned into the explicit disparagement of married fatherliness by vociferous pressure groups. With ominous rapidity the views of the anti-married-father pressure groups were taken up by politicians of the left and right, by lawyers, by judges, and by the most senior as well as the most junior of clergymen and clergywomen. Not surprisingly, anti-married-father views found their fullest and most mindless consolidation among the paid professionals of state social work and the paid professionals of charitable counselling.

What, in this new period, was happening to the crime figures? The rate of acceleration was such that, within a few years of 1955, the graph of the whole previous historical series from 1857 to 1955 (needed to be rescaled to cope with the post-1955 increases - LT).

If we focus on the violent crime of robbery: the increase in robberies in the twelve months from 1990 to 1991 was more than the total number of robberies throughout the entire period between the two world wars--the total of all robberies from 1919 to 1938. Armed robbery did not even appear as an offence until the figures for 1970 were published. In that year there were 480 armed robberies. By 1991 there were 5,300. The increases in the single year from 1990 to 1991 had been three times the total of armed robberies in 1970.

For the figures from 1981, then, we can depend upon the British Crime Survey. We have no longer, then, to even consider the complaints that the old series, collected by the police since 1857. The police series had and has its weaknesses of reporting, recording, and changing definitions, specious though those complaints were and are when the issue was and is trends in crime. I’ll take robbery again, which includes, of course, what is popularly called ‘mugging’. Between 1981 and 1999 robbery rate doubled, from 42 per 10,000 adults to 84 per 10,000 adults.[xii]

Estimating the total number of robberies from the sample, the BCS concludes that in England and Wales there were
1981 164,000 robberies
1991 183,000
1993 237,000
1995 314,000
1997 309,000 [a fall]
1999 353,000

Cases of common assault increased by 45 per cent. The fewer cases of wounding make the figures less reliable, but on the figures there was a 15 per cent increase.
There was a 40 per cent increase in informants telling the interviewer that they had been the victim of "some form" of criminal violence. (The increase was from 560 to 770 cases per 10,000 informants.)

The fundamental question is not what explains any short-term fluctuation in violence from one recent year to the next. The fundamental question relates to the whole period from about 1955. The force that has operated since about 1955, and that has had the effect of steadily multiplying crimes of violence to such a remarkable extent through all economic and political vicissitudes, has been the spreading and now pervasive disparagement of generous and self-sacrificing manliness and the steadily growing but remorseless exclusion by Parliament and the courts of men from their social role in the married family. I personally object strongly to the Orwellian efforts of the intelligentsia, largely successful, to induce historical amnesia or alternatively to create the historical untruth that men were always created by their upbringing to be, and in general were, selfish and exploitative boyfriends, violent and unfaithful husbands and cruel and incestuous fathers. This lie is poured out through all the powerful media as fact, entertainment and art, whether it is music and song of the Eminem kind, or the totally false impression of life in a pit village like Easington Colliery presented by the supposed ‘gritty realism’ (and certainly superb cinematographic artistry) of ‘Billy Elliot’. It is about time that the lying stopped.

Norman Dennis is the author of Families without Fatherhood and Rising Crime and the Dismembered Family. The latter is now out of print, but the new, third, edition of Families without Fatherhood (co-authored with George Erdos) can be obtained from Civitas, The Mezzanine, Elizabeth House, 39 York Road, London SE1 7NQ. Tel. 020 7401 5470. email Norman Dennis also deals with these issues in The Invention of Permanent Poverty, where he disputes the theory that greater poverty, either absolute or relative, can explain the rise in violent crime. This, too, is available from Civitas.


a) Notifiable offences reported to the police England and Wales
per 100,000 population, 1860-1914

(excluding throughout 'other criminal damage valued at £20 or under')

1860 438
1870 357
1880 373
1890 276
1900 249
1900-10 258 (annual average)
1910-14 271 (annual average)

Home Office, Criminal Statistics England and Wales , annually from 1857

b) Notifiable offences reported to the police England and Wales
per 100,000 population, 1920-195
(excluding throughout 'other criminal damage valued at £20 or under'

1920-24 282 (annual average)
1930-34 489 (annual average)
1950 1,094

Home Office, Criminal Statistics England and Wales annually from 1857

c) Notifiable offences reported to the police England and Wales
per 100,000 population, 1960-1991
excluding throughout 'other criminal damage valued at £20 or under'

1960 1,742
1970 3,221
1980 5,119
1990 8,630
1991 10,007

Home Office, Criminal Statistics England and Wales Annually from 1857

[i] Dennis, N., ‘Beautiful theories, brutal facts: the Welfare State and Sexual Liberation’, in Smith, D. (ed.), Work, Welfare and Poverty, London: Civitas, April 2000. Supporting Families: a consultation document, London: Home Office, 1998.
[ii] These figures were obtained exclusively by The Voice, Britain’s biggest black newspaper, in a campaign to confront the Afro-Caribbean community with the uncomfortable reality of street crime. October 2000.
[iii] Engels, F., The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (1845), London: Allen and Unwin, 1892. (With a Preface by Engels, 1892.), p.v and pp. 130-32.
[iv] Childers, E., The Riddle of the Sands (1903), Ware, Herts.: Wordsworth, 1993, p. 13.
[v] ‘The indictment against Christianity’ (1917), Inge, W.R., Outspoken Essays, London: Longman, Green, 1921, p, 245.
[vi]. Orwell, G.,, 'The English People' (1944), in Orwell, S. and Angus, I. (eds.), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Vol. III, London: Secker and Warburg, 1968, pp. 2-3 and p. 8. 'An imaginary foreign observer' is not required for Orwell's case. This is exactly what did strike George Santayana about the Englishman (Soloquies in England): 'His character is like his climate, gentle and passing readily from dull to glorious, and back again; variable on the surface, yet perpetually self-restored and invincibly the same'.
[vii]. Gorer, G., Exploring English Character, London: Cresset, 1955, p. 16.
[viii]. Smellie, K.B., The British Way of Life, London: Heinemann, 1955, pp.24-25.
[ix] Cicero, Selected Works, Trans. Grant, M., Harmondsworth: Penguin, pp. 157-209.
[x]. Marris, P., ‘Review of The Classic Slum’, British Journal of Sociology, 23, 1, March 1972.
[xi]. Roberts, R., The Classic Slum (1971), London: Penguin, 1973, pp. 24-25 and p. 53.
[xii] Statistically reliable at the 10% level, two-tailed.

A New Age of Voyeurism Opens

A day after a senior police officer warned of an ''Orwellian situation'' with cameras on every street corner, Merseyside constabulary launched a remote-control helicopter to track criminals and record antisocial behaviour.

The micro-drone is only 3ft wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar and can record images from a height of 1,600ft.

I look forward to the forthcoming court cases just as soon as they've worked out how to point the camera through bedroom windows.


A teacher is taking three girls, aged 9 to 11, to a tournament, and is running out of fuel. He locks the girls in the car while he goes to get petrol, showing them how to unlock the doors if need be. He's away ten minutes. He comes back with the petrol and off they go. No harm done.

You lose your job for that nowadays.

FollowThe Money

JWT is encouraging clients, including Unilever, Nestlé, HSBC, Esteé Lauder and Johnson & Johnson, to develop strategies to reach them ...
For its study, JWT carried out interviews with 350 Muslims and consulted a panel of Muslim professionals in law, business and the media. It published a separate survey of Muslims in the United States last month. Although British Muslims have diverse backgrounds, as consumers they are unified in three areas, Ms Salzman said. They want halal food, and increasingly, cosmetics; Sharia financial products – because the Koran bans payment of interest; and modest clothing.

Islamic banking is making headway in Britain, with HSBC and Lloyds TSB offering Sharia-compliant mortgages and accounts, but Ms Salzman believes that there are big opportunities for clothing retailers.

Money knows no bar of colour, class or creed.

34 per cent of Muslims were aged under 16 in 2001, against 25 per cent of Sikhs, 21 per cent of Hindus and 18 per cent of Christians.

I have often said that children are our future. Looks like the money people agree.

"They can stab someone tonight and get a flight home tomorrow "

When the first wave of Poles arrived they were generally lauded as good eggs - as most of them are. I struck a note of caution though.

"The fact that these new Brits are polite and hard-working, do not do crack or firearms, nor are they likely to blow up Tube trains, is a function of the culture they have arrived with. It tells us nothing about what their first and second generation descendents will be like after twenty years exposure to the cultural vacuum of the UK."

They seem to be quick learners.

One man was taken to hospital and several others suffered more minor injuries during the mass brawl involving more than 30 men - believed to be mostly from Eastern Europe - outside the Lion And Keys pub in Leyton High Street, east London in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The pub's owner Fred Fetti said: "The English might be happy to go out for a drink and a dance, but the eastern Europeans like a drink, maybe some drugs and a scrap.

If you have Polish customers, you need Polish security. If you have Albanian customers, you need Albanian security and they need to be able to cut the trouble off before it starts.

"If someone is on drugs they think they're superhuman - Hercules. They don't respect anything. You need to give them a clump.

"The police are living in the 1960s, but we're not. They culture has changed and now we're dealing with people from another country. They can stab someone tonight and get a flight home tomorrow for £69.

"Something has to change. I'm not saying we understand what's needed, but we understand more than them. The police and the authorities need to sit down with the publicans and discuss what how to improve the licensing laws.

"They've given us later licenses and they've opened the doors to people from different countries, but they haven't taken account of how that changes the culture."

I was in the wholesale supermarket today - there's a new section devoted to Polish food. Not sure I can see the native Brits hitting sauerkraut the way they took to chicken tikka. And remember the 'they'll work for a few years then go home ?' mantra ? The lovely Anna from Stettin was back on the till today, blooming in her advanced pregnancy. The only place she's going in the near future will be the maternity unit at Gloucester Royal.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Scribbles isn't too happy about Margaret Hodge's move towards a nativist housing policy.

"Margaret Hodge, you make me want to puke. We do not treat the immigrants and asylum seekers as lesser human beings than us. We do not consider them more suitable for suffering. We do not put their distress on a lower priority than our own. We no more deny them the decent housing they need than we would deny them medical care by putting them at the bottom of NHS waiting lists."

That's certainly true of the NHS. There was a Times report a few years ago that a quarter of London's hospital beds were occupied by foreign nationals who'd flown to the UK for free treatment.

On the other hand, a few deserved brickbats are handed out.

"Just who has been allowing economic migrants to come here in such numbers that the racial demographics of some places were forced to stand such speedy anxiety-inducing transformations? Think you'll find that's the government ... So why did this government let it happen? Why are they only now catching onto the fact that rising migrant populations in areas where resources are already scarce will cause suffering to all and rampant racial tension?"

Ten years too late : opineth Cerdic.

Donal Blaney of the Young Britons Foundation tells of the howls of left rage which greeted a similar proposal in Fulham a few years back.

Sunny's not impressed but slightly depressed.

There are two reasons why such a policy is now inevitable: (a) providing housing to asylum seekers is constantly used by the BNP for their own electoral campaigning and is a big source of resentment; (b) Labour has invested so little in new housing stock that such shortages and the vicious fight over them are inevitable.

"This is precisely the sort of garbage which fuels the BNP"
says leftie Grimmerupnorth from the seething multicultural melting pot that is Hebden Bridge.

From the equally vibrant streets of Lancaster we hear that the Refugee Council is not happy.

Julie Morgan MP
neatly straddles the political fence, noting that Hodge's remarks are 'controversial'. Yes, woman, but so were Hitler's ! Far more interesting is her appearance at the launch of the Breastfeeding Manifesto in London, where she was joined by Arsenal and England footballer Theo Walcott. What ? Breastfeeding ? Theo Walcott ? I know he's young, but surely he's on solid foods by now ?

Interestingly millionairess MP Lynne Featherstone seems to be in cautious agreement with millionairess MP Margaret Hodge :

"In Haringey - where we have a desperate housing need and high immigration - these issues walk into my surgery week after week. What is actually the case is there is a clash - but it's not racial - anyway not here in Haringey.

It's a clash between the 'already here's' - and they are of every race and culture - versus the 'newcomers'. And the system of points for housing that gives priority to number of children, illness, etc often results in what either is or looks like queue jumping. That does cause resentment. What we need is a system that is both fair and transparent. It's difficult to balance the rights of those who have already been waiting with those newly in need, but it's a balance we have to strike – and in an open, transparent way so that people can have confidence in the system."

Fellow liberal burbler Paul Walter is deeply disturbed by the use of the word 'indigenous', reserved for noble native Americans, Siberian shamanic nomads or threatened Amazonian tribes, in connection with the native Brits or English.

And Chris Dillow (who has a book out) surprises me by not using the r-word in a measured post which as usual asks more questions than it answers. Nowt wrong with that if they're good questions.

One last piece - a comment to this Jon Cruddas piece by a poster called Ishouldapologise, who generally toes the Guardian line - I think he's a lecturer.

I am sorry, but I have to agree with Margaret Hodge.

When we arrived back in the UK four years ago my wife had a small job and so did I and the only house we could afford was a small cramped second story flat. My children had to share one small loft together with barely enough room to stand up in. Furthemore, it was a firetrap.

One of my students was a Sri Lankan refugee: a very nice man. He was not allowed to work, but I think he did anyway; in one of the network of Sri Lankan shops in our area. At the same time the government had given him and his family, with two children, a perfectly fine three bedroomed house to live in rent free. I saw it.

It seemed rather unfair to me.

We couldn't find anyone to help us. We were earning just too much to deserve help from the government, but not enough to rent a decent place to live in. My children suffered. Perhaps if my wife had been a single mother the council would have given us priority on a housing list. Perhaps if we didn't both work, then the government would have come to our aid. Perhaps.

But they didn't. Bitter irony. I didn't resent it overmuch, that my student had been helped, I resented, and resent, that we hadn't been helped. We were left to suffer by the politically correct.

There is definitely something very wrong in the system. It shouldn't stop helping refugee Sri Lankans, but it should think about helping working people with British Nationality more than it does at present.