Tuesday, 29 October 2013
Keep Britain Tidy
What have the bland sound bites The Big Society and One Nation got in common? Yes, you got it, they are meaningless bits of noise exploited for one reason and one reason only – to garner votes for grasping politicians who have no idea who their voters are and what they really want. When Winston Churchill delivered his wartime speeches on the radio he had a captive audience with a collective need for hope and strong leadership. As a result he became a national hero and a renowned world figure… and the socialists still threw him out when the war was won.
The bitter lesson was learned and since then, in the name of progress, governments have demanded less of the electorate while promising ever more. The job of government is no longer to lead but to provide, to the extent that, for a worryingly large proportion of the population, absolutely everything about their lives is a matter for Parliament to decide. And when I say everything I am hardly overstating the fact. The NHS delivers them, social services monitor them, they are schooled by the state, supplied with unheeded sex education and when they have finally outgrown the ever more outlandish government schemes to keep them in pointless schooling, they are handed over to the Job Centre and the DWP to manage their adult lives.
Even those who do find work have an expectation that the government will shield them from harm, actual or imagined; that their every breathing moment will be cosseted and coddled. The trains will run, electricity will always be there, private companies will not be allowed to make undue profits from them, neighbours, their dogs and their children will be controlled. And when it comes to fighting them on the beaches, stuff that; it’s the government’s job and society is to blame.
This is what Margaret Thatcher meant when she talked about society – there is no over-arching, independent thing – society is made up of you and you and you. And if you simply refuse to take responsibility we get what Joan Bakewell’s documentary Our Dirty Nation highlighted last night; litter. Litter in all its forms is not just the waste you throw away but the human jetsam that washes up on the shore of our big society. Our prisons, drug clinics, sink estates and no-go areas are peopled with the dregs of a system that isn’t functioning because everybody thinks it’s somebody else’s problem, even though it is obviously a problem for us all.
The clear and obvious answer to keeping Britain tidy is litter snipers – they’ll soon get the message – but I expect there will be some namby-pamby health and safety objection to it. And on reflection, maybe prevention is better than cure. Which brings me briefly to the situation in ForemostSchool near Harrogate, where staff have suffered 67 assaults in just eighteen months. Although this is a school for pupils with ‘behavioural difficulties’ it is indicative of what happens when the question is always “what is the government going to do?” and it is only going to get worse.
But it strikes me that it is all about how people grow up and the influences they absorb along the way. Given that we have little control over those influences the answer lies further back in the timeline and prevention is the key. Every single one of society’s ills can be solved by getting rid of society altogether. And as society is made up of people and people can’t help themselves, the only way humanity’s deficiencies are going to be addressed is for us to become extinct. I've already done my bit and avoided making kids. If everybody does the same it will eventually solve the human litter problem once and for all.