Saturday 6 February 2010

Broken society narrrative is "simply untrue" says Economist

Gaffe-prone Chris Grayling has had such a bad week that Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Wade must be thinking of asking for their money back*.

Yet by misleading the public by manipulating official statistics on violent crime, the Shadow Home Secretary did not just earn himself rebukes from the official statistics agency, the BBC's home affairs edito and ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Grayling has also finally achieved what Labour Ministers have struggled with for a decade: making the fact that violent crime has fallen sharply since the mid-1990s the stuff that headlines are made of.

So perhaps it is not so much "Calamity Chris" as The Independent dubs him. Next Left wonders whether we should instead salute Comrade Chris as our most effective undercover agent for decades.

Now The Economist has gone further and offered a fascinating and authoritative debunking of the broader "broken society" myth which has been David Cameron's central argument about the condition of British society.

As the magazine concludes in its editorial, this story of broad decline is "simply untrue".

Stepping back from the glare of the latest appalling tale, it is clear that by most measures things have been getting better for a good decade and a half.

It is well worth reading both pieces in full. Here are a few snippets.


The broken Britain of legend is one where danger stalks the streets as never before. In the real Britain, the police have just recorded the lowest number of murders for 19 years.

violent crime

violent crime has fallen too. It is now almost half what it was in 1995, and no higher than in 1981

Teen pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy is still too common, but it has been declining, with the odd hiccup, for ages. A girl aged between 15 and 19 today is about half as likely to have a baby in her teens as her grandmother was.

(Not a lot of people knew that).

So can Cameron still talk about the "broken society"?

No credible response would seem possible on the facts.

To justify the portrayal of a "broken Britain" because it chimes with people's perceptions is to defend inaccurate scare-mongering, while perpetuating the myth for partisan advantage. That doesn't sound much like "social responsibility" to me.

Broken Britain. Even Boris knows its piffle.

If David Cameron sticks with his "broken society" language and theme, we will all know that he has the chutzpah to scare-monger and lie about the condition of Britain all the way through an election campaign too.

[* Only joking, m'learned friends. No money changed hands. But several pro-Conservative outlets have reported that the replacement of Grayling's cerebral and much more liberal predecessor Dominic Grieve was made a clear precondition of the Sun backing the Conservatives).


Unknown said...

Worth noting how crime shot up between 1979 and 1995. Who was in power then?

Silent Hunter said...

Since we're talking of criminal activity . . .

Remind me again?

Which party do the only 3 MP's being prosecuted for fraud belong to?

That would be the LABOUR PARTY, wouldn't it.

Labour - Corrupt since 1997.

Oriel boy said...


1.Classic diversionary tactics: "LOOK OVER THERE, NOT AT US!"

2. Ever heard of a thing called innocent until proven guilty?

3. You really think that (if any MPs broke the law) that there were only 3 of them?

Anonymous said...

I am a middle-aged man and I have lived in council estates, throughout the UK, all my life and I can tell you from personal experience, and without a modicum of doubt, that society is broken. The areas where is has broken down most are; crime, social concience, personal responsibility and the family. Also, many many more people are now so dependent on the state for throughout every aspect of their lives that they can no longer cope without state help. It really is depressing.

Laban said...

Voters are deeply pessimistic about the state of Britain today, believing that society is broken and heading in the wrong direction, a Populus poll for The Times has found.

Nearly three fifths of voters say that they hardly recognise the country they are living in, while 42 per cent say they would emigrate if they could.

Women, working-class people and Tory voters were more likely to say that they hardly recognise their own country.

Overall, 64 per cent think that Britain is going in the wrong direction and just 31 per cent believe it is on the right track.

Time to dissolve the people and import a new one ?

Laban said...

I've just taken a look at the 'most recommended' comments on the Times piece. When I look at them I realise why 'Comment Is Free' doesn't have such a feature.