Sunday, March 30, 2008

Britain: Again the 'Sick Man of Europe'

It hasn't been a good week for the reputation of UK plc. The combined efforts of BAA, British Airways followed by TIME Magazine have seen Britain's stock plummet. I remember when I first went to Germany in the 1970s and hearing Britain referred to as the 'sick man of Europe' . It's happening again.

I'm not going to add to what's already been said about the debacle of T5, but I do want to say something about Catherine Mayer's article in TIME this week, which is headlined BRITAIN'S MEAN STREETS. This article is featured on the cover of the Europe and Pacific editions of TIME and has created a real stir all over the world, such is the power of TIME.

This article should have caused a huge debate on UK blogs and in the mainstream newspapers but apart from a mention on the BBC Ten O'Clock News and a piece on Our Kingdom (to which I will return in a moment) it has been ignored. Mayer's piece begins...
An epidemic of violent crime, teen pregnancy, heavy drinking and drug abuse fuels fears that British youth is in crisis.
She tells us that...

* 27% of UK 15 year olds have been drunk 20 or more times compared to 12% in Germany, 6% in Holland and 3% in France
* 44% of UK teenagers are frequently involved in fights compared to 28% in Germany.
* 35% of UK 15 year olds have used Cannabis in the last 12 months, compared to 27% in France, 22% in Holland and 18% in Germany.
* 40% of English fifteen year old girls have had sexual intercourse, compared to 29% in Sweden, 24% in Canada, 20% in Holland, 18% in France and 14% on Spain.
* 15% of English girls fail to use contraception.
* A 2007 UNICEF child welfare study placed Britain bottom of a league table of 21 industrialised countries.
* Between 2003 and 2006 violent crime committed by UK under 18s rose 37%
* Marriage rates in Britain are at a 146 year low.
* Class sizes in Britain are among the highest of 20 Western countries.
* British children start school earlier and take more exams than other European countries.

What a very gloomy picture this paints. How on earth did we get here? Our Kingdom's Anthony Barnett, who is normally rather sensible, seeks to pin the blame on the bosom of Margaret Thatcher...
Has anyone pointed out that today's teenagers are Thatcher’s generation, born after the Falklands war introduced the celebration of gratuitous violence as the route to success? Hooliganism starts, as they say, from the head down. Doesn’t it?
I'm pleased to say that most of the people who have commented on his piece have castigated him, and rightly so. Hooliganism was around way before Margaret Thatcher's day - remember football hooliganism, or the hooliganism of the picket line? What we have now is a society in which permissiveness and a lack of willingness on the part of society in general to impose discipline on impressionable minds have caused a fissure between those who obey the norms of society and those who, despite having gone to school, haven't got a clue what those norms are. They don't conform because many of them don't know what they are supposed to confirm to.

Yes, some of the fault lies with politicians - of all parties - but in the end you have to apportion the blame here to parents and the complete failure of our liberal education system. I think 40% of children in Britain are born to single parents, many at a very young age. Many single parents to a brilliant job with their children, but others do not - can not. The lack of any form of male role model is to the detriment of any child's upbringing. The inability of parents to say 'no' nowadays is just as bad. None of this is Margaret Thatcher's fault. None of this is Tony Blair's fault. The roots of this failure of society go back far beyond their periods in power. The trouble is that the current government has done nothing to address these problems, but has done a lot to make things worse.

Take under age drinking, for example. Last week I heard Ed Balls say (and he said it with a straight face) that teenage drinking is declining and is lower than in other European countries. He was either deliberately lying or he genuinely thought what he was saying was true. He should get out of his ministerial car one night in Tunbridge Wells and then then the next night he should go to the equivalent town in France and compare the two. His government has made it easier, not harder, for teenagers to procure alcohol.

Why are our teenage abortion figures by far and away the worst in Europe? Why are our promiscuity figures the worst in Europe? It's difficult to pin the blame on Margaret Thatcher for either of those, Mr Barnett. Is it parents who are to blame or our woeful sex education in schools? Probably a combination of both, together with the glorification of all forms of sex in the media and the sexualisation of children from a ridiculously early age.

I really am not intending to get into 'old git' mode, but the point of this post was to take issue with Anthony Barnett's caricature of Margaret Thatcher. According to many on the left, everything that's wrong in this country can be traced back to the reign of Mrs T. It is lazy thinking and indicates a barrenness of ideas simply to hark back to a Prime Minister who left office eighteen years ago. The root causes of today's problems are far more complicated than that. As Camila Batmanghelidjh says in the TIME article...
If I was sitting in government, I'd be really worried - not about terrorist bombs but about this.


Constantly Furious said...

A "baronness of ideas", regarding the Thatcher years? Freudian or deliberate?

Completely agree with the rest of the post though.

Anonymous said...

I think you meant "barrenness", a Baroness is what Lady Thatcher is. ;-)

Anonymous said...

15 year olds are Major's generation. He was more into glorifying Cricket than glorifying violence. Yes he did involve UK in a UN mission to remove the Iraqi army from Kuwait.

'If I was sitting in government, I'd be really worried - not about terrorist bombs but about this.'

How wise those words are. We're about to enter more wrangling about detaining people without charge.
British muslim youths (who may be targeted for recruitment by ALQ) are British Youths. They are under the same pressures and subjected to many of the same failings as other British Youths. I admit that in general muslim families are stronger.
So lets stop demonizing muslims and get our own house in order.

Anonymous said...

If you were sitting in government we'd all be seriously worried.

Anonymous said...

"How on earth did we get here?" - simple - lack of commitment to do otherwise.

asquith said...

I don't think children under 6-7 should go to school. They would be better off playing with other children and spending time with their parents/grandparents/carers in general than trying to learn at that age. Going straight into a battery of tests is counter-productive.

Some kind of standardised tests at 11, 14 and 16 should be the only formal exams. A grading system should exist throughout the year, but it shouldn't be done in the statist, battery-farming way that is currently used. Three large tests in a child's life will determine the attainment of children and the performance of primary schools and high schools.

A lot of underage sex is due to the blighted, pointless lives too many teenagers see their parents leading and the woeful standard of certain schools, caused by low expectations (and, yes, inadequate parenting: but then, the parents were the children once).

As for the odd bit of drinking and smoking, I can't see what's wrong with it so long as it's sensible and the youngsters know what they're doing.

Anonymous said...

The 1960's are a good starting point. Recreational drug use, promescuity and altrernative lifestyles, became "very fashionable" and an integral part of youth culture, but this was the same for most other western countries, it's just that this country has had it worse than most.
The tossers on the left, who blame Mrs T. for everthing, should grow-up and take a history lesson or two. It was the Left, in this country, that were so enthusiastic about the 1960's and it's anti-concservatism. Now, when we see the results of this, they blame conservatism!! You could argue, that not enough has been done, in the intervening years, to lesson the negative impacts of these social changes, but, if a politician is to be blamed, then Harold Wilson, should be top of the list.

Personally, I blame the media more than anything. Most of the negative social changes in this country, have been brought about by the Mass media. Cultural influences, especially on the country's youth, come from the media and not government. The promotion of sex, drugs and celebrity, by the mass media, form people's views and behaviour, more than any government has done.
This country's social problems are rooted in a celebrity obsessed culture that has been acitvely encouraged, during the course of this government and by broadcasters, such as the BBC, and tabloid journalism.
At most a government may be able to reduce the rate of decline, but Labour have accelerated it.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right. Governments never tackle the really difficult things for which there are no electoral dividends.

Anonymous said...

What's the problem?

Southpaw Grammar said...

I think what you say is wholly sensible re: the fact that you cant blame politicians of any party stripe for this.

Another point i would like to add is that politics matters so little to most people that it is hardly likely they will listen to the government's views on trying to promote 'better' behaviour.

One final one Iain, there are many two parent families who 'do not, cannot' look after their kids, and i speak as a child from a single parent family.

asquith said...

Angry, perhaps you'd better think what life was like for homosexuals, women who wanted good careers, members of ethnic minorities, and the generally non-conformist before 1964.

Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell (yes, Enoch Powell) supported the liberal reforms introduced by the legendary liberal Roy Jenkins. They didn't think the state was entitled to butt into people's personal lives. And they were right. This is also, if I'm not mistaken, Iain Dale's own view.

I agree that "lad culture" and the dogshit celebrity-worship drag this country down, but that isn't really any kind of left/right issue.

Anonymous said...

Seriously scary!! In west Belfast this last few weeks we've had a man beaten about the head sixty times and had a tv dropped on it by a youth who had absconded from a youth training centre, a man in dungannon beaten to death by two immigrants, and now I hear another elderly woman with alzhemiers beaten by more feral youth.

How did we get here? Ask our elected politicians. Gerry Adams has been our MP for twenty years, when an article appeared in a pro sinn fein news paper pointing out such things happened on Adams' watch, guess what happened?

Gerry criticised the paper and said it hurt his feelings so the paper funded by the British government, apologised to him?????

Looks like people get what they vote for.

Guido Fawkes said...

Shagging, boozing, spliff smoking chavs on council estates explain those statistics.

Sounds like fun...

rob's uncle said...

Re: ' . . I think 40% of children in Britain are born to single parents . . ': are you sure? where does this statistic come from? I guess [but haven't checked] that 40 % is the % borne out of wedlock - something quite different.

As I am unfamiliar with the sources, I don't propose to check this out but you should do so if you wish to establish yourself as a serious commentator in [say] the Polly Toynbee class. It's hard work, I know, but you have to do it. If you don't, those who are you are trying to persuade will ask themselves: how much is Iain's opinion worth?

haddock said...

What the hell did the do-gooders expect when giving children the right to anonymity, giving them all of their 'rights' and taking away all of their responsibilities.
The thought of their names in the paper each time they go to court might bring a bit of local backlash against them, or at least warn us what scum is out and about in our locality.
Lads of 16 & 17 kicking people to death but we are not allowed to know who they are..... madness.

Anonymous said...

Iain writes: I think 40% of children in Britain are born to single parents, many at a very young age.

Whereas children in France, Germany and Holland are born when they are well into their teens.

Unknown said...

"largely ingored" ?? - well I heard Meyer on "Broadcasting House" on Radio 4 this morning. Interesting to hear her thoughts not just about the article - but aslo the press reaction to it.

Anonymous said...

If you engage in risky behaviour then accept the consequences.

Single parents run a greater risk of creating juvenile offenders than two parents. That does not make single parents bad, just riskier.

Likewise, unmarried parents have a higher risk of creating juveniles than marrieds.

An education system that caters mainly for academic students rather than nurturing the right attitudes to work has a higher risk of creating workshy people.

Why be surprised?

Martin said...

I'm afraid to say there s a lot of nonsense her. 35% of 15 year olds have smoked cannabis in the last 12months? Interesting when the last figure I saw said only 28% had smoked cigarettes! What this type of survey says is that cocky British Kids are more likely out of bravado to admit to something they haven't actually done, than the kids of other nations.

Anonymous said...

As I am unfamiliar with the sources, I don't propose to check this out but you should do so if you wish to establish yourself as a serious commentator in [say] the Polly Toynbee class.

Was that a joke?? Considering Toynbee is famous for being 'creative' with the facts (see the 'factcheckingpollyanna' blog) I think Dale should avoid trying to be in Toynbee's class at all costs!

Anthony said...

I work in an inner London school, and the Time article paints a picture that I recognise from daily experience.

It is easy to blame the parents, but these parents are the product of the school system too. We need a school system that will turn out a new generation of young people ready to care, and ready to be responsible citizens. How do we do this? Well, for a start why not halve class sizes (which would still leave them bigger than in private schools). This would be expensive, but would pay for itself in the long term by turning out people who are well-educated, in the true sense of that term.

Anonymous said...

Sick as in mentally ill and delusional.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Anthony Barnett's anywhere near the money with the idea that the Falklands War was wanton violence, was glorified, and that that has filtered through into the psyche of youth. The idea's almost without any merit at all.

But Iain you don't help with your standard kneejerk reaction to any leftie who brings Thatcher into it - "How very dare you! She's a goddess..."

Thatcherite economic policies created pockets of society without gainful employment or the hope of it. These sections dropped out of society - nothing to do worth bothering following society's moral codes for, is there?

It's their kids, born in the late 80s-90s, and indeed also the kids just growing up when unemployment shot up, who've grown up in families with no working parent and no incentive to behave in a civilised fashion.

Nothing much has changed in the post-Thatcher era (the unemployment figures can get fiddled all the Government likes, the jobless figures are still >5million), so expect this from the next set of kids growing up, and the offspring of the first set too.

Anonymous said...

The best way for children to do well with there lives, is by them gaining an understanding of what is in their best interests ASAP.

This is not only true for children it is best for adults as well.

If a community of free prosperous individuals wants to continue to be a community of free, prosperous individuals.

It must promote a national structure that encourages its children to see that being free, prosperous, an individual and existing harmoniously within ones own community is in there own personal BEST INTERESTS.

It is clear as a bright sunny winters day, that this is precisely what socialism is almost entirely designed not to do.

Socialism is designed to mess peoples lives up so much that the brainwashed common people can only see that a repressive and over enormously powerful state can save the people from eating their own babies, or worse.

So it is hardly surprising that as we have been living in an institutionally SOCIALIST dominated country since WW2, we have what we have now.

The answer is to get rid of all forms of socialism once and for all.

Unfortunately rather then socialism being all but dead, as our media constantly lies to us. It has all but taken over our entire existence. From dirty cradle to premature NHS bug ridden, impoverished death.

This our current form of socialism gos by the name of State Corporate Fascism. Which always was the only type that worked and the only type that ever really existed in the first place.

Atlas shrugged, then rang up his old friend Ayn and asked. "I thought you warned these people and that millions had read your book. Why then are they so stupid?"

Ayn replied "yes but I deliberately did not tell them the really important bit. I was after all working for the enemy. In fact I was shagging them at the time."

Anonymous said...

The Time article is very interesting. The character called Jason Steen, a 40 year old attacked by a gang of 11 year olds and marched to a cash till for money, sums up what is wrong. He had no option but to go along with the theft or run away. If he had fought the gang he would have been prosecuted and, if convicted, jailed. As a middle class man, convicted of attacking children, he would have had to be segregated in jail. He would have got pariah status. His food would have been contaminated with semen, urine and the like and he would have been in despair, his life completely ruined. Conversely, if the children had been caught they would have been given anonymity and probably have got referral orders, whereby they sign a contract with The Youth Offending Team and have to perform certain tasks and exercises.

The person to blame for this state of affairs is not Mrs Thatcher or Tony Blair. It is Esther Rantzen, the Jamie Oliver of her day. She set up a charity to protect children and it did very good work for bullied and abused children. Unfortunately, it also promoted the idea that all children are little saints and all adults are potential abusers. The result of this mentality was that manipulative children use this belief to make false allegations against their male teachers. Indeed, in some areas, primary school union representatives estimate that all male primary school teachers will face such allegations at some time in their careers. Child criminals also use this belief to make allegations against those they themselves have attacked, if there is the slightest resistance on the part of their adult victims.

We are in a real mess over this and two things need to be done. Firstly, there should be an automatic right to punch or kick those who attack you, regardless of their age and status. There is already a right of self defence but self defence against children is likely to be ruled unreasonable under the present law unless they are armed with a gun or knife. Secondly, there needs to be a system whereby the veracity of allegations against teachers are assessed before they are arrested and suspended.

DiscoveredJoys said...

I think we all spend too much time trying to find "the single reason why everything has gone wrong".

There are lots of reasons, including:

relatively cheap and available booze
relatively cheap and available fags
little public condemnation of poor behaviour
lack of discipline in schools
lack of enforcement of laws
proliferation of unenforceable laws
growth of the nanny state
growth of salaries without due cause

... and I'm sure there are many others. Most of these symptoms have got worse because of the unwillingness to wait for gratification, and the exageration of the 'rights of the individual' over good manners to the remainder of society. Old buffers like myself would characteris it as lack of self-discipline.

I'm not sure that anyone or any government can reverse the malaise, certainly not without telling people that some social changes cannot happen without upsetting people.

When you see Tescos ejecting customers who permit their children to eat sweets or biscuits without paying for them...

When you see people choosing not to use their cellphones in public for gossip...

When you see people parking properly, out of regard for other people...

When you see few drunks in the street...

When you see good discipline in schools as a matter of routine...

When unmarried pregnancy is seen as a disgrace rather than a choice...

When borrowing money for a desired item is no long seen as sensible...

... then we may be on the way back to a decent society, and a country we can take pride in.

I expect that it will take at least as long to achieve as it took to fall into the present malaise. It can never be the same as it used to be, but it can be as good as it used to be! I just wish I knew how.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"Whereas children in France, Germany and Holland are born when they are well into their teens."

Senile dementia is a terrible condition.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I think the real rot started in the 60s under the labour government and has carried on ever since.
But who is going to be strong enough to try and sort it out as people dont want to take unpleasant medicine.

Cameron. I dont think so.

It will just get worse and worse 'till some Churchill/Thatcher type figure comes along and gets stuck in.

Anonymous said...

So many ideas about the causes of our present yoof culture(?)/problems...but think about it. This has been going on over a long period of time. We speak of broken families & lack of parental control without understanding that the parents of these feral shits are the same as their asocial progeny...they (the parents) having experienced the same social problems. Often it isn't lack of parental control...the little bastards are doing exactly what their parents did...& sometimes continue to do.
This is a dreadful generational problem & will take generations to correct...given the guts to do something about it.
I am not optimistic & believe that nothing short of a cataclysm in The Septic Isle will bring its now awful inhabitants to their senses.

Anonymous said...

Atlas Shrugged - on the button as usual. Agree that socialism is toxic ... in fact, what we have in Britain now is closer to Stalinism than socialism.

It is all about the government directing every minute detail of the lives of the citizens, with a comfortable, cordoned off nomenklatura making decisions for the citizenry which used to be their own. Now they're telling the citizenry what to eat and what to drink.

And they continue wielding the axe on our formerly cohesive society by letting convicted terrorists out of prison early because of shortage of space - there were no other criminals they could have let out early? It had to be terrorists intent on destroying our country? - What an assault! Especially given that the British taxpayer probably paid for the loos in their cells to be ripped out and replaced so they wouldn't have to pee or poo facing mecca. (Their "human rights".)

We should at least have got a bit more service out of those loos!

9:56 - Not just Esther Rantzen, but Cherieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and the vile, controlling, social engineering HRA. Also her consort, Call-Me-Tony-Don't-You-Think-I'm-Rather-Dazzling?.

You write that "... there should be an automatic right to punch or kick those who attack you, regardless of their age and status."

I disagree. There should be an automatic right to shoot them.

Discovered Joys: "relatively cheap and available booze
relatively cheap and available fags
little public condemnation of poor behaviour
lack of discipline in schools
lack of enforcement of laws
proliferation of unenforceable laws
growth of the nanny state
growth of salaries without due cause"

Discovered Joys appears not to have put two and two together and concluded that all these conditions have been created over the past eleven years.

Johhny Norfolk - Agree.

10:20 - Referring to my post, you write: "Senile dementia is a terrible condition." Worse is the tragic inability to get a joke, sweet thang.

Anonymous said...

To re-iterate my agreement with Johnny Norfolk, David Cameron isn't it and it will be a national tragedy if he gets in as prime minister.

He's a "politically correct" - aka "thought fascist" opportunist along the lines of Tony Blair. (We haven't seen his disabled kid for a couple of weeks now. When's the next photo op so I can pencil it in?)

This jerk sacked Patrick Mercer, an officer who had served under fire, on a pretend charge of "racism" - the popular meme of the day - when surely he was aware that even serving as a foot soldier (not to disrespect foot soldiers in any way) would have been beyond his own talents and bravery. And that Mercer's own men, regardless of the tint of their skin, came forward for him.

I see Cameron as an interim individual, but he has no weight, no bones. No one's going to think, "Oh! I'm going to vote for David Cameron!"

He's faceless.

The man is not a leader. He comes across as a bit player in a play where no one knows the script.

James Higham said...

Very upsetting and a recurring theme of mine too.

Anonymous said...

> I think 40% of children in Britain are born to single parents, many at a very young age.

I think you'll find that 100% of children are born at a very young age, Iain.

Anonymous said...

Dear Verity,

Re: Your assertion that 'No one's going to think, "Oh! I'm going to vote for David Cameron!"'

Explain the polls, then.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous March 30, 2008 9:56 PM:

You're wasting your time talking sense to this bunch of Tory ('Let's blame the poor') types.

Anonymous said...

Well - you've got some debate here. And Skipper's blog ( has also referenced the article, so it has not been quite as ignored as you thought maybe?

Incidentally, the lack of educational opportunities being offered is entirely down to an education mentality that believed everyone could be educated the same way - inevitably, as a result, no-one was! If you brought back the grammar school system, you might yet rescure uneducated Britain - especially if you introduced them into the inner cities, where there were no middle class parents to fight successive, ideologically blinded governments for their retention.

Anonymous said...

Catherine Mayer's article also tells us that...

Twenty-seven teenagers were murdered in London last year by youths wielding guns or knives. All but a handful of the dead teenagers were black or Asian.

... darker-skinned Britons are likely to be less well off than their paler counterparts. Around 40% of people from ethnic minorities are poor — twice the rate for white Britons.

Anonymous said...

I agree it's right to be sceptical - at least - about an 'explanation' like Barnett's, and I am amazed at the confidence with which contributors assert they know what the causes of the problems are and often the solutions too.

I hope it won't be dismissed as the predictable comment of a weedy liberal if I point out that, as I understand it, other countries with a high rate of single parenthood (e.g. Scandinavian countries) have fewer apparently associated social problems and that this is probably due to the more positive/less judgemental attitude taken in providing support of various kinds (notably childcare). And lower rates of teenage pregnancy are, I understand, often associated with countries such as the Netherlands where there is early and effective sex education (which is also about relationships). I'm not sure I personally welcome the implications of this sort if analysis, but one has to accept that the problems of complex modern societies aren't, in fact, necessarily susceptible to simple solutions, and to consider what's likely to work best.

Scary Biscuits said...

I agree with Angry 7.41 but far from interfering in people's lives, we should be doing it less.

Here the extreme left in this country is really in the driving seat. Where else in Europe are there repeated attempts to illegalise gently smacking your children? Where else is the word of a child preferred over that of a teacher to the extent that a single unfounded allegation by a misbehaving child can lead to a teacher being suspended for years?

I'm not advocating discriminating against gays or other alternatives. I just don't think that these should dominate the majority. Unfortunately, in both politics and the media: mainstream majority views on bringing up children and marriage are routinely ridiculed.

From being a country where gays were discriminated against, it seems that we have created one where the other 95% are.

It is virtually impossible, for example, to get a job in fashion if you're not gay. In Labour and now Cameron's party white people are treated unfairly.

This is supposed to benefit minorities but if you belong to a one, this is a far from desirable situation in the long term, as the anger that this creates runs deep even if it is calm on the surface.

If you don't believe me, just ask a typical 15 year old their views on tolerance: it's shocking. The country when they are in control will be a very different one.

To avoid this, we should start to re-emphasising equlity and that two wrongs don't make a right. That is, that positive discrimination is still discrimination. We should ditch the idea that you can't be racist if you're black (are you listening, Ken/Jasper?)

Yak40 said...

Why are our promiscuity figures the worst in Europe?

This was true a long time before Thatcher. I worked with French and Spanish people over thirty years ago and their opinion of British girls, based upon their behaviour when on holiday in their countries, was that they were sluts.

Anonymous said...

Scary Biscuits,
dont blame the gays. We have been fighting for the right to get married and have families. In my experience those gays who dont are nonetheless extremely supportive of their straight married friends and their children. I dont know what the problem is but I dont think young single mothers on council estates with children by multiple fathers are doing it because Graham Norton/Nick Brown/Iain Dale are encouraging them.

Anonymous said...

Scary Biscuits wrote:
"It is virtually impossible, for example, to get a job in fashion if you're not gay."

just admit you're frocks werent good enough and stop blaming others.

Anonymous said...


Verity dont surf

Anonymous said...

well said. Too much of the old style conservative blame-it-on-the-left on this blog. We live in a world which changes on a daily basis and it is not suprising that there are a lot of people who cant keep up and resort to relying on benefits to keep going. Providing people with achievable life goals is a start. Not everyone can have a stellar media/banking/blogger/estate agent career.

Anonymous said...

looks like we are breeding some great infantry!

Anonymous said...

Scary Biscuits "Unfortunately, in both politics and the media: mainstream majority views on bringing up children and marriage are routinely ridiculed."

Ridiculed? Can you give a single example?

Women journalist frequently comment on their rubbish boyfriends/husbands but they are not ridiculing marriage. People comment about the high failure rate of marriage but I have yet to read someone saying marriage itself is a ridiculous institution. They all seem to be looking for a way to make it work and extremely disappointed when it doesnt.

Again, can you give an example in the mainstream press (broadsheet or tabloid) where marriage has been ridiculed?

Anonymous said...

"I worked with French and Spanish people over thirty years ago and their opinion of British girls, based upon their behaviour when on holiday in their countries, was that they were sluts."

British people have always said the same about French and Spanish girls when they were on holiday in this counytry.

Anonymous said...

Scary Biscuits said...

"It is virtually impossible, for example, to get a job in fashion if you're not gay."

And, it's getting close to 'virtually impossible' to get a low-paid job if you're English.

"Why are our promiscuity figures the worst in Europe?"

Nothing wrong with lots of promiscuity. Most of my married middle-class girl-friends thrive on it. The problem is the liblabcons using the benefit system to attack the family by rewarding illegitimate births.

weggis said...

Ah, BUT. That TIME magazine piece reported that Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, has a 10- year plan "to make England the best place in the world for children and young people". It goes on to say that "the plan is based on the principle that it is always better to prevent failure than to tackle a crisis later".

I bet that’s cheered everyone up.

Anonymous said...

It was not Thatcher who caused a decline. The trendy hippy era caused it. I mean to say, it was marxists and stalinists who caused it.
When I was at school in the 1960s/1970s there was always general air of depression. Who was in power then? Labour! This says it all.
When I think back to my attitude during my adolescent years I can see that it was caused by this all pervasive and hopeless feeling I had. I think this was helped along by the constant union strikes and the like and the message that the country (UK) was in decline. At least Thatcher tried to be positive.
By the way, I was not a great adolescent as far as trouble was concerned. That is because I thought I had nothing to be proud of or to look forward to. This was caused by labour not Thatcher!
In more recent times weve had to put up with political correctness and all of it's machinations. Did Thatcher invent it? No, I dont think she did.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"When I was at school in the 1960s/1970s there was always general air of depression."

Air of depression? In the 60s??? You must have been on really bad dope.