So tell me now, how is Broken Britain? Did Cameron fix it yet? Do send me a postcard when it happens.
There was time when Dave was in opposition and pretended to be a social conservative, so much so that he could not stop talking about Broken Britain. Goodness, he was banging on about it so much, Broken Britain this, Broken Britain that, baby Peter was because of Broken Britain. Everything was broken, my washing machine included.
Dave was going to ride in with the rest of the Conservative cabinet and fix it all. He was going to shore up marriage, get the kids to school and improve social mobility. And has it happened my friend? Not so much.
Before I launch into my tirade I will say one thing in Dave’s favour. The education system has improved. Not as much as everyone believes, but it has improved. So I will not blame Dave for Britain being at the bottom, the very bottom, of the OECD league table for literacy and second from bottom for numeracy.
This means that some graduates have difficulty coping with the instructions on a bottle of aspirin. It is serious stuff, they cannot hold down a job on this level of ignorance. I blame Blair for they are ‘his children’ (not literally of course. They are fine – they probably had private tutors.)
But back to Britain and its brokenness. This week we had some of the following stories.
Mothers are dropping off their kids in their jim-jams (pyjamas) because they cannot be bothered to get dressed. Even worse, some are picking them up in said jim-jams too. And even worse than that when the head-teacher told them to get a grip and set a good example to their children by putting on clothes the parents went for her. Of course they did, because no one respects authority anymore, even those who are trying to educate your children.
Truly, this story was not about the jim-jams. It was about standards, and how many in Britain simply don’t have any.
We also know many teachers have experienced physical violence from pupils in the classroom due to lack of boundaries at home.
We know many children are being dropped to school unclean, unkempt and unprepared to learn. In fact, one school noticed that, “there are also a lot of children who are getting themselves up in the morning and in to school as their parents are still in bed.”
This all sounds pretty broken to me. It is basic behaviour and people who were much poorer in previous generations managed to do it.
They got up, cleaned themselves and got their children washed and dressed and to school on time. The children were not violent either. But we don’t want to live in those ‘oppressive’ times anymore. No shame should attach to any behaviour whatsoever.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, however. When he leaves office, I have decided to judge Cameron on three simple things. Are young people now willing and able to get married, buy a house, and have children as they were in previous generations? So far there is foreboding.
Marriage rates are stagnating. Young people are now less likely to own their own homes. Britain “from having one of the highest levels of home ownership in the OECD at the tail end of the Thatcher era, has plummeted down the league table and now shows every sign of ending up one of the worst.” Fertility rates continue to fall – propped up only by immigration.
I am using these factors because everything else is the small print. Marriage and children are the main transition to adulthood and if people either cannot or do not want to get married and settle down to have a family then Britain is still broken.
Having a family is quite a conservative idea, but of course it is also a universal desire also. You don’t have to be conservative to want a home and family, but you do have to have hope. You do have to have confidence in the future of your country.
Only countries ripped apart by war or deep depression or in just plain decline decide to pack it all in. We are perilously close to this now, and things have only worsened under Cameron’s leadership.