Should we blame the feral underclass for the social decay in our Broken Britain or the feckless society that actually created them? As Emma Thelwell at C4 Fact Check put it recently… “Feral Underclass is a humdinger of a phrase,” but it’s also one we’re hearing more and more as the media use it on an almost daily basis, with divisive and derisory impunity.
As elements of our society descend to even greater depths of social and intellectual ineptitude, we (arguably) see higher levels of criminal activity and anti social behaviour. We then stick a label on the perpetrators of the things we don’t like and simply move them on to a different area or just lock them away. It’s all OK, just so long as it happens in someone elses neighbourhood.
The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, has blamed the riots that swept across England last month on a “broken penal system” that has failed to rehabilitate a group of hardcore offenders he describes as the “criminal classes” (see here).
I have to say, I think he is probably right. At least more so than those who continually try to offer up limp social excuses as to why the perpetrators of many of these crimes actually committed them. Being the prodigy of a single parent broken home, or a disenfranchised student of our lack lustre education system, doesn’t necessarily mean you are automatically destined to be an uneducated oik. It also doesn’t mean your only gainful employment in the future has to be a life of crime, irrespective of the almost continuous platitudes issuing forth from the majority of our liberal lefty social commentators.
Almost everything in life is about personal choice, just some of those choices are a little harder to make than others. Most are also based simply upon our inherent personal greed and/or laziness. During my life I have come across people who have turned out to be industrious, wealthy and wise, despite originating from the lowest levels of social deprivation. Conversely, I’ve met drug dealing wife beaters who had wealthy parents and went to university. As I’ve said it’s all about personal choices, that and having some personal drive and a cognisance of what is acceptable behaviour, that and a fear of the consequences if they overstep the mark.
Apart from the boundaries of acceptable behaviour being somewhat blurred these days, and a very limited fear of the consequences of our actions, another major difficulty we face is how we address our problems. When looking for solutions, we generally want a quick fix for everything, including our social failings, especially when it’s someone else’s fault. Kenneth Clarke was again right when he suggested recently, it will actually “take a generation” (or more) to actually fix the problems we are witnessing now. But we also have a tendency towards, only concerning ourselves with stuff that has a direct impact upon us as individuals.
Even when organisations like the Guardian and the London School of Economics get together on “the first empirical study to examine the causation of the recent rioting and looting” (see here), it is unlikely we will learn the lessons that actually need to be learned.
But even if we could make the social changes that are so desperately required, I have to wonder; would it actually make a real difference to some products of our society. For years now I’ve held the belief, there are actually some people who will always be ‘evil’, irrespective of any parental, social or legal intervention. Again we see the products of self-interested self-important individualism in our society. Perhaps the defendants in the recent Gemma Hayter murder case are prime examples of those beyond any help and guidance?
Sentencing the gang of five young Rugby people who brutally killed Gemma Hayter the Judge said… “It is difficult to find the words to express how vile your behaviour was in August 2010.” She also commented…
I saw during your trial and I see it echoed in your pre-sentence reports that none of you is ever to blame, it is always the fault of someone else and life has not been fair. For all five of you, it is always all about you. It soon will be, but not in the way you had planned it…(Lady Justice Anne Rafferty DBE)
See the judge’s full comments to the five defendants (Rugby Advertiser) which are well worth a read, as Insp. Gadget pointed out Lady Justice Anne Rafferty speaks her mind.
There is a school of thought, amongst both educated professionals and simplistic social observers that; some people are simply ‘evil’ and beyond any realistic and worthwhile intervention. Whether or not they were born that way, or it’s a trait that has been learned during the maturing process is another issue and bone of contention. Most would consider people such as these to be little more than low life scum, individuals who care not a jot for anyone but themselves.
The question remains; do people like these actually deserve the public resources devoted to trying to help them, when so many refuse to help themselves?
- Jail for disabled woman’s killers (independent.co.uk)
- Three guilty of rail track murder (bbc.co.uk)
- Kenneth Clarke says broken prison system which failed to stop ‘feral underclass’ to blame for riots (telegraph.co.uk)
- Met chief questions ‘feral’ comment (independent.co.uk)
- UK riots: acting Met chief rejects ‘feral underclass’ analysis (guardian.co.uk)