Friday, August 12, 2011

In short, you have a ghastly mess

In the 60s (and the 30s, when PL Travers wrote the book), we were pushing back against the deadening grey tyranny of the staid banker.
If they MUST go on outings, these outings ought to be
Fraught with purpose, yes, and practicality

As we sweep away the purposefully shattered glass from the streets of our major cities, it occurs to us that we may have been a little hard on him. (If only he had lived up to his values and not committed the ultimate parental crime of siding with his children, all might have been well.)

As bumbling (yeah, right!), toffee-nosed Mayor of London St Boris Johnson said in the last ten seconds of this radio joust, agreeing with lefty firebrand MP Diane Abbott, it's all about boundaries. If we don't give kids boundaries, they'll find someone who will. Gangs were a large part of the problem.

But possibly not as large a part as the ordinary citizens who, presented with free stuff, gleefully grabbed their opportunity. Carpe Cacem indeed!

Now this is of course reprehensible. They have fallen from the path of righteousness and now must take the consequences. And they are not alone.

George Banks not only released his children into a world without boundaries: he allowed himself to be reduced from a leader of the community to an irrelevance. He ran from the field of battle almost without a fight, leaving it to the wide boys and chancers who looted for years. And, to be fair to them, they didn't understand the boundaries either. Very few people did.

When everyone around you accepts a certain behaviour, it takes a special sort of stubbornness to maintain that it is wrong. So people drive too fast; take days off sick when they are fine; accept mistakes in their change; travel on the train without a ticket; steal beer glasses;... the list is endless.

Oh, and fiddle their expenses.

 Matthew Connolly 

Which makes it a bit problematic for Parliament to take a high moral tone here.

So has the country gone to the dogs over the past decade or two? And must Something be Done?

No and Yes.

The was a rare disaster, like a tsunami or earthquake. A sudden release of pressures which have built up over decades. We have had riots before and no doubt we will have them again. Tidy up; learn the lessons; move on. Nothing to see here.

There are those who see this as an opportunity to grab a few steps towards an agenda of control. This morning I saw a Blackshirt staring out of the TV screen, telling me that he has my face and he is coming for me. (Fortunately, the innocent have nothing to fear.)

Does the colour of the shirt really matter? Of course it does. What colour is George's shirt? Well then!

Of course people must be punished and made to work on putting things right.

And of course we must make it a real priority to build a new generation of decent parents. Not just in the sink estates, either. We should not forget the parents who abdicate their responsibility to the boarding school, leaving the hapless inadequate child to wreak havoc in the Bullingdon Club. Another data point that complicates our leaders' response.

I'm not sure how the wreckers fit in. Could anyone fall for the wild joy of lashing out or would most people, though tempted by free stuff, stop short of wanton destruction?