Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blair's Dysfunctional Family Values

Muriel Gray is a Scottish novelist, media personality and commentator. Tomorrow in the Sunday Herald, she gets her snark on, I mean seriously on, over Tony Blur's latest idiocy. I'm going to repost it here in full not only because her snark is better than mine but also because I am deeply, deeply ashamed that this man ever rose to power on the backs of the Left in Scotland.
Does Blair think we’re all buttoned up the back? Nothing he utters any more seems to have the remotest connection to the welfare of the country. It’s as though while hunched over Cherie’s Prada calculator, working out how much the first American lecture tour will bring in following his departure, some civil servant rudely interrupts his dreams by tapping him on the shoulder and telling him it’s time he made a policy statement or people might forget he’s supposed to be in charge. It’s the only logical explanation for the continuing spectacle of Blair spouting policy that sounds as though he’s just made it up on the spot.

Take his latest policy statement, the first to be announced since his return from holiday, doubtless still completely baffled as to why he had to take his shoes off at Barbados airport and hand over the Irn-Bru. [A Scottish soft drink - C] Tony tells us that it’s now possible to identify children who will be a potential threat to us all before they are born, and that state intervention at this early stage needs to become more forthcoming. If we don’t do this, he tells us, “there are children that are going to grow up in families that we know perfectly well are completely dysfunctional and the kids a few years down the line are going to be a menace to society”.

Oh help! Then in that case we must act quickly on the Blair children. What chance for those young ones brought up by an egomaniacal, lying, Bible- thumping father, jointly responsible for 100,000 dead in an illegal war, and a mother whose ruthless, venal ambition makes Lady Macbeth look like an apathetic slacker? We must intervene with all due haste before they all turn into the “menace to society” their father has so clearly become before them.

But Blair doesn’t mean the children of middle-class bad guys. They’re free to grow up under the influence of nasty, materialistic, self-centred, uncompassionate parents and potentially carry on the tradition of being a stealthy menace to society in the world of commerce, politics or anywhere else they care to wield their skewed values. He means the children of underclass bad guys. You see, the children of the middle class, by Blair’s implication, have free will and the capability of growing up to make alternative moral choices from those of their parents. Nobody expects Jeffrey Archer’s children to become criminals or Donald Rumsfeld’s children to turn out just like dad and grow fiery scales, horns and a tail. We give these young humans the benefit of the doubt – as we should all children – that despite their influences and upbringing they are still individuals and unique personalities who have the capacity to defy their lot in life and choose their own road. But the problematic poor, Blair would have us believe, do not have any among their number gifted with this strength of character.

Listen to this from Blair, and see if it doesn’t chill your blood.

“If you’ve got someone who is a teenage mum, not married, not in a stable relationship, here is the support we are prepared to offer you, but we do need to keep a careful watch on you and how your situation is developing because all the indicators are that your type of situation can lead to problems in the future.”

Yikes! Not only are we back in that insidious and preposterous Thatcherite territory where all of society’s ill are pinned on young single women who have children out of wedlock, but you will notice there is considerably less compassion in that statement than threat. There is no suggestion that the single mother and her unborn offspring are themselves victims, but instead that they are merely grinning co-conspirators in making our safe, comfortable lives a misery. Take what meagre “support” we offer you, it says, or we’ll be on your case, keeping a “careful watch” on you. Because far from thinking that you might be carrying the next Robert Burns, Stephen Hawkins or Helena Kennedy, or even just a normal, gentle person, we know you’re going to give birth to nothing more than an irritant, a creature destined to steal BMWs, set fire to Mr Patel’s shop and burgle houses.

Let’s stop worrying about these scroungers and start worrying about ourselves for a change, all of us decent, hard-working people. Hooray for us. Boo to these young harlots and their criminal progeny. Blair clearly thinks he sounds tough when he spouts such garbage.

He thinks the Daily Mail audience will sigh with relief that finally the antisocial thugs, who undoubtedly ruin communities, are finally about to be dealt with. In reality, he sounds stupid which, with the blindingly clever Gordon Brown in the wings, is yet another of his many errors.

The problems of criminality and antisocial behaviour among the deprived are hardly going to be relieved by labelling babies as future happy-slappers and keeping a beady state eye on their mothers, ready to pounce when the first chubby fist picks up an alphabet brick and smashes it down on teddy’s head. How many good, kind, clever, experienced people, from all kinds of agencies, both public and private, have sat Blair down and explained to the twit that those with nothing to look forward to, nothing to plan for, nothing to work towards, have nothing to lose by being lawless, feckless and feral, and how many times has he failed to act on this blindingly obvious truth?

It’s interesting to wonder if Blair ever really cared about the poor at all in the way he pretended to back in 1997? Given his indifference to the body count in Iraq it doesn’t seem very likely that he weeps much for the poverty-stricken. But a great many in his party do, and I genuinely, optimistically, and perhaps naively believe Gordon Brown still does. We need Brown in Number 10 with the utmost urgency. There’s only one thing worse than a corrupt prime minister and that’s a stupid corrupt prime minister.

03 September 2006
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