Saturday, 13 August 2011

Matthew Parris on feral Britain...

It is simply pointless to suppose that lectures by MPs, schoolteachers or the Archbishop of Canterbury on the importance of fathers, of family discipline, of personal responsibility, or whatever, will have an impact on (or even be heard by) brutalised juvenile gangsters. The Left is wrong to think that state handouts will do the trick, the Right is wrong to think that punishment can do more than contain the problem; and all of us are wrong to think we can achieve much by "addressing the issues" or "starting a debate" - ie talking about it.

I've come to believe that Iain Duncan Smith's interest in the social policy equivalent of keyhole surgery - estate by estate, family by family, gang by gang, street by street, problem by problem, task force by task force, church by church and charity by charity - may bear more fruit; but it will be slow, expensive, messy and deeply unsensational. So will the concentration of resources on educational wastelands that Michael Gove's "pupil premium" implies.

He finishes by imploring Cameron not to knee-jerk to the right as a result of the riots -

There exists today a nascent Tea Party tendency in the Tory party. Its nostrils sniff the smoke in the wind. It senses it's moment may have come. I doubt this. The cheers of the Right are heady stuff, and can become addictive; but, like all addictions, they lure a statesman towards his destruction. Mr Cameron knows that he won by getting away from all that. His new friends hope he is now turning his back on huskies, hoodies and hoodlums. He mustn't. In today's applause lies tomorrow's danger.