28 April 2007

Blair's Self-Defence

"I got it wrong on problem families, admits Blair" declares the Telegraph. In actual fact his supposed admission of error was a self-righteous projection of blame onto unnamed advisors who "misguided us to the wrong policy conclusion" and an attack on David Cameron's recent call for a revolution in responsibility.

A younger Tony BlairThe outgoing prime minister is of course right no longer to agree with "the Blair of 1992" who believed that investment alone would deal with the "small and unrepresentative minority" of trouble-makers. However, he still fails to understand "the Cameron of 2007" and also seems not to recognise that the decisions he has been responsible for taking during his ten years in power have exacerbated the general social malaise through his consistent and deliberate destruction of our country's historic local and national institutions, from the family, through local councils, to Parliament itself.

He appears self-deluded when he maintains:

"I don't believe this is an issue to do with society as a whole. Obviously it impacts on society as a whole. But it is not part of a general breakdown in society, a tearing of our social fabric or a descent into a 'decivilised' culture. ... The reality is that we are dealing with a very small number of highly dysfunctional families and children whose defining characteristic is that they do not represent society as a whole. They are the exception, not the rule."
The reality is that five out of every six police officers have been assaulted in the line of duty during the last five years.

The reality is that almost three teachers a week are subject to serious assaults at work, 17 per cent of pupils have Special Educational Needs, and truancy is up by almost a quarter since 1997.

The reality is that more than 60,000 NHS staff are physically assaulted by patients and relatives of patients each year.

Those responsible for such widespread disorder are not merely a "small and unrepresentative minority" to be dismissed as easily as Mr Blair would have us believe.

As I have already said, he clearly fails to understand "the Cameron of 2007" for Mr Blair still thinks that the answer is to increase the powers of the state:
"I now think that the proper answer is to add to the ASB laws measures that target failing and dysfunctional families early, and place those families within a proper, structured, disciplined framework of help and insistence on proper behaviour.

"I know this is difficult and controversial, because it involves intervening before the child is committing criminal offences, at least serious ones, and when the families have not yet become a menace."
We have heard this predeterministic line from him before. However, in this regard, David Cameron's answer is the complete reverse of what Mr Blair is suggesting – and the reverse of what Mr Blair appears to be portraying as Mr Cameron's position. Unlike Labour, who would support Mr Blair's belief that "a nanny state is what we need," the Conservative leader wishes to decrease the role of the state or, as he puts it, "to roll forward the frontiers of society."

On one point, however, Mr Blair is right: We need to "Concentrate on the facts. The right analysis will bring a better answer."


Walt said...

I had no idea things were so bad in the UK. Our liberal media fawn on Tony Blair and hate Pres Bush. The bits of conservative media we have here don't tell us anything negative about Blair, either, since he does support Bush on 1 key issue - the war in Iraq.

We need to find ways to get the conservatives in the UK and the conservatives in the USA in league on this Iraq issue somehow. There has to be some common ground that we can agree on.

If that can be done, perhaps we can work together on other issues of mutual interest.