Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lowest Class - Vicious, Semi-criminal

The Major has long believed in the criminal class. That is to say, he believes there is a criminal class, and it carries out most of our crimes. As you may imagine, this week's headlines have given him the opportunity to remind us all of his bracing views:

"You do realise the scumbag who robbed Mr Hussain had 50 previous convictions. 50 for God's sake! And they still haven't locked the bastard away! We should have banged him up years ago - permanently. Three strikes and you're out - that's it! And as for those two little savages who tortured the kiddies in Doncaster, it is beyond belief that the so-called authorities hadn't locked them up in an approved school. I mean, everyone seems to have known they were out of control and dangerous, and yet bugger all was done. Why the hell do we put up with it? The only way of dealing with the criminal class is to lock them away."

"But Major," I said, "this is 21st Century equal opportunities Britain, not Victorian London. They can't help being criminals... they haven't had the chances you've had. What about rehabilitation? What about re-educating these people to be productive members of society?"

The Major snarled. "Are you trying to wind me up? For one thing, I've had to make my own opportunities in life. And for another, nobody has the faintest idea how to rehabilitate the criminal classes. It simply can't be done - or at least it can't be done with enough certainty to make the rest of us safe. Locking them up is all we can do, and I'm just amazed we don't insist on it."

"But Major - even if I agree with you about adult criminals - these two appalling boys in Doncaster are kids themselves. It's not their fault."

"Well, you can say that if you like, but dangerous wild animals still have to be locked up. Anyway, it's the parents we need to focus on. According to the papers, the mother was a drug addict, the father a violent alcoholic, and they lived entirely on benefits - benefits, I might add, that have been hugely boosted by this brainless socialist government of yours. It is literally insane that we actually pay the criminal classes to have kids. Is it any wonder we get things like this happening?" He fixed me intently with his good eye. "I've said it before - we need to stop them breeding... by all means at our disposal."


In 1898-99 the businessman and philanthropist Charles Booth published his famous poverty map of London. It mapped the city's streets in terms of their social composition, identifying seven separate classes.

At the top were the Upper Middle and Upper Classes, described a "wealthy" and marked on the map in yellow. Right at the bottom - below the Comfortable, and the Poor, and the Very Poor, were the Lowest Class, marked in black and described as "vicious, semi-criminal".

Has anything changed?

Yes, sure, the material poverty has long since disappeared - swept away by Beveridge. But if there's one thing the last 50 years should have have taught us, all the socialist largesse in the world cannot make people live better lives. In fact, it all too often tends to deprave and corrupt (we've blogged before- eg here -how things came seriously unglued when the 1950s Prog Con extended the welfare state way beyond Beveridge's minimalist safety net).

As we saw when we looked at Shannon Matthews' council estate in Dewsbury (see this blog), there are now whole areas of the country plagued by high crime, poor education, high unemployment/incapacity/lone parent welfare dependency, and family dysfunction. Booth could doubtless produce some very striking maps.

But what to do about it?

Indeed, can we do anything?

According to the Major's theory, we ultimately have to stop these people breeding, by all means at our disposal.

But for those of a more sensitive disposition, there is a gentler approach we should try first - the one we hope Mr BrokenBritain Cam has in mind.

According to the Charles Murray underclass theory, the essential problem is that over-generous welfare benefits have encouraged the growth of a jobless criminal underclass, especially through the creation of single parent families with no male role model in the household. We could reverse all this simply by cutting back on benefits, especially child benefits. In particular, we need to stop rewarding single women for having kids.

Ah, you say, but that wouldn't have stopped those yobs in Doncaster, because the parents were married, and there was a male role model on the premises. It's just that he was the wrong type of model.

And you're right. Changing the welfare system would not necessarily have helped in that particular case. Maybe they really are members of the irreducible criminal class, the ones identified by Booth long before the welfare state.

And for cases like that there may be no alternative to the Major.

PS It was sickening to see the abominable Balls slithering around on Newsnight, trying to explain why his published summary of the Edlington serious case review is so grossly misleading. According to Newsnight, who have a leaked copy of the full review, details of the child protection system's most catastrophic failings have been deliberately suppressed. Our expensive childcare service gives every appearance of being a dangerous shambles, and taxpayers have a right to know the facts.

PPS As it happens, almost all Tyler's Victorian forebears were poor or very poor - just like yours probably. But Tyler likes to think his great great grandparents were the respectable working class, and even when they were struck down by illness and job loss, they stayed honest. Well, that's what he likes to believe anyway.

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