Real conservatives have always worried about social cohesion..

..which is why it makes sense that this article should have appeared in the Telegraph rather than the Guardian (HT FT Alphaville).

41 replies on “Real conservatives have always worried about social cohesion..”


I’ve never read such sanctimonious old cobblers in all my life.

This was nothing to do with any of the social issues this correspondent alludes to. This was simply the law of big numbers.

A lot of very young copy cat hooligans who sought to take advantage of a soft under staffed Police force following on from a death of Mark Duggan in suspicious circumstances.

I’d wager if it was raining heavily over the weekend and yesterday there would have been no violence or looting. Would the same happen in Moscow where arguably income distribution is even more skewed? Not on your life.

This is the end product of neo liberal economics. To hear a Tory mininster brand everthing as thuggery and criminality is ignoring the under currents. Of course Sky News was out yesterday claiming Drug barons were leading the youths. Typical Murdoch rubbish.

To repeat what I said in another blog: The London riots cannot be divorced from the recent political and financial scandals in the UK and beyond.

In the last few years, the general public has been made privy to the monumental failure of ethics and responsibility in institutions both public and private. Bankers and financiers have been seen publicly seen to profit enormously from feckless and irresponsible behaviour. Politicians and civil servants have been shown to be inept at best, and in collusion at worst. And–in particular in the UK–the media and police force have been found to be involved in the most scandalous, unscrupulous and unethical behaviour of recent times.

We are living in an age of irresponsibility.

It’s interesting to see that many of the rioters are expressing no political, social, or ideological motivations. They are either engaged in arson or larceny. It is simple opportunism. But this behaviour not a random incident; it is an inevitable consequence of our times. I would hold that these rioters across the UK, discontented from the effects of austerity and unemployment, and cynicised by the endless stream of unresolved scandals, have simply decided to have their own slice of the rotten pie.

If bankers can loot the nation without consequence, if the media can destroy lives with impunity, and politicians lie without consequence, then why should a young unemployed man with few prospects turn up what may be his only opportunity to own a big flatscreen TV, or some designer clothes, or to vent his rage at the state? Because it would be “wrong”? Because it is “immoral”, “unethical”? But for his entire life this young man has been shown by example that crime pays, that ruthlessness and wrongdoing pays, that rage and emotion pay.

I don’t wish to sound like a religious reactionary, bemoaning the loss of public morality. But what kind of ethics have these young men learned from their leaders and public and private institutions? In the UK and beyond. Where are the ethical pillars of our society who lead by example? In politics? In the church? In the media? In private industry? I see none such. And moreover, I see those in such influential positions profiting from their poor examples.

Remember to these young people, the state over the last 10 years is all they have ever known. A state that has lied and warred. A media that has colluded and harassed. Public institutions who have lost all sense of civic duty. Industries that have profited from the most wanton recklessness and greed. And everywhere, none have been held to account.

There are other underlying causes such as deprivation, unemployment, and hooliganism. But such things have always existed in the UK and elsewhere, but I see this spontaneous outbreak of criminal opportunism first and foremost as a sign of our times. These opportunist rioters have been lead by example by our corrupted ruling classes. “As above, so below”.

And I wonder what morals we’ve been teaching all our unemployed young people in Ireland over the last 10 years?

An excellent article even if it comes from that bastion of Tory politics and it is interesting to note…”The real causes are more insidious. It is no coincidence that the worst violence London has seen in many decades takes place against the backdrop of a global economy poised for freefall. The causes of recession set out by J K Galbraith in his book, The Great Crash 1929, were as follows: bad income distribution, a business sector engaged in “corporate larceny”, a weak banking structure and an import/export imbalance.”
The one quibble I have is…Although the epicentre of the immediate economic crisis is the eurozone, successive British governments have colluded in incubating the poverty, the inequality and the inhumanity now exacerbated by financial turmoil.”
It seems that everyone on both sides of the Atlantic is blaming Euroland and ignoring their own problems (as posted on another thread)

Nice work, Disraeli. One-nation and all that. Only problem is that conservatives have never really come up with a compelling model for basic wealth distribution that is ultimately required to form any kind of social cohesion. It’s all very well talking about the need for cohesion and inclusion, but unless it’s backed up by simple numbers, it’s meaningless.

I recon the UK have a simple choice.
Increase income equality or increase security.

The US made their choice long ago.
With the obvious social results. Massive prison populations. A large proportion of the population living in poverty. No health care for large sections of the population. Massive murder rates etc. etc.

@OMF I agree with some of your comments on opportunism. Out of interest where does the “As above, so below” comment come from?


Not so sure I’d agree that ‘real conservatives have always worried about social cohesion…’ They do; but only when the lack of it threatens their own power, property, or pole position in society. Most of the time these so-called ‘real conservatives’ appear content to ignore the so-called ‘underclass’, so long as the latter visit their violent frustrations on each other and within the confines of their own housing estates or communities. I find the use of the perjorative phrase ‘feral youth’ in this article quite revealing. It’s a really convenient way to distance the immature, irresponsible and sometimes downright criminal youths who’ve been involved in this current mayhem from society, rather than having to admit that they are part and parcel of society. Sadly, when all of this dies down as it inevitably will – there are only so many kicks one can get out of looting sports shops and dress shops and bars and burning a few cars and buildings before the adrenaline rush begings to fade or you get collared by the long arm of the law – the ‘real conservatives’ will quietly revert to what they and their representative media excel at; wrting columns about ‘dole scroungers’ etc and exhorting the underclass to ‘get on their bikes’ etc.

Out of interest where does the “As above, so below” comment come from?

To my shame, it is probably an astrology maxim. Nevertheless I would stand by the fact that rot in any organisation usually starts from the top.

They do; but only when the lack of it threatens their own power, property, or pole position in society.

And it has been threatened. I think these riots will rattle many in England. If the government does not respond comprehensively, how will the public react. It is worth noting that historically, much support for the black and brown shirt brigades came from those who felt their property and business threatened by labour and communist popular revolts. While these rioters clearly lack any cohesive ideological or political motivations, I not sure the small business owner in 2011 will feel differently about the situation than his counterpart did in 1919.


Great posting.

Posted on another thread, but well worth posting here for those who may not have seen it:

James Galbraith on the ‘irreversibility’ of financial institutions’ systemic fraud (the results of which we are living thru’)

Worth a little compare & contrast the scale of the damage & extent of accountability I think. Perhaps, in a rather simplistic fashion, what the ‘youths’ of Britain’s underclass have been doing.

Seems like the new Euro ‘government’ at the ECB (re ‘letter’ – diktat – to Berlusconi) are determined to send us all down the same road of growing impoverishment & social inequality, so we can funnel more wealth to the financial elites.

Meanwhile, the financial elites, sitting on their present cashpiles, engineer further mini crises so they can buy up assets at even lower prices & from forced sales, privatisations etc.

We need a new system, one where the democratic process is actually sovereign. This would be a good start:


They’re fairly rattled alright, which is why the PM, the Mayor of London, the Chancellor, the Home Secretary and the leader of the Opposition have all cut their holidays short and why Parliament is to be recalled; more than they were prepared to do in the face of the latest eruption in the global economic/debt crisis over the weekend.

These vivid pictures from Lon are surely destroying the continent and its dismay at political dysfunctionality across the channel. England has always been a class society – unlike rest of the continent. Yet they boast about being ever so clever by choosing to be outside EZ. Forgetting that current crisis in EZ will most irreverently lead to what Osborne calls a fiscal union at the centre. Returning sovereign power to EP will eventually lead to bringing some democratic order, some argue; but even that is now a paupers dream!
These pictures are literally polarizing Dutch population, for example.

That sort of behaviour has been going on for a long long time. What was different was that it was not restricted to sink estates and poor little towns where the people who are forced to put up with it don’t matter. The seeds were sown in previous years and decades of acceptance of yobbish behaviour by powerful elements in society so long as it was far awAY from them. Interesting to see what the response will be. I don’t by the way think poverty should be trotted out as the cause, not when it seems a smart phone was a key element to participation.

the urban black youth, the male in particular, has to overcome the soft bigotry of low expectations society has for them and the constant presence of gang culture in their lives.

Just because the piece appears in the Torygraph doesn’t mean it’s written by a conservative. Mary Riddle is the token Fintan O’Toole of the Torygraph.

Unemployment in London is much lower than here. I doubt if the chavs who are doing all the mischief are aware of the international financial crisis. Anyhow the said crisis has more to do with the $ and the € area than with the UK.

Anyone with a sense of history should know that London has a long tradition of occasional rioting. People who react as if it’s the
end of the world are being a bit OTT.

Very well put.
What I wanted to say but didn’t have skill to put into words.
I remember reading a piece by Declan(?) Walsh formerly of the Irish Times and he was reporting on a statement by a Labour TD that she was surprised there was not trouble on the streets (1980’s not present time) and he said that there is trouble on the streets, buses were being burned, houses were being destroyed, people were dying of drugs. This was the trouble on the streets, just because the trouble does not take a political face does not mean it is not there. And just because it happens in places where the political class do not go does not mean it is not happening.

We have our own underclass, our own geographical areas of hopelessness, and our own problem of a police force which uses the difficulty of the job to justify unjust actions and a culture of lying and cover-ups. Witness the Garda on CCTV control in Waterford who directed the camera away from a male Garda and a female garda beating a man on the ground.

Whereas most people I know had sympathy for the Gardai who were recently acquitted of beating up a criminal (with a list of convictions) in his home, one wonders how those who feel they have no prospects and no equality feel about such matters. Do they think the Gardai were guilty?

These areas need help in times of hardship. The ghetto is a weeping sore in our society. The ill-founded stereotypes of a large underclass who are responsible for their own difficulties does not tally with the amount of people who took up jobs when they were avaialble.

Providing work schemes and skills development for people on welfare in a way that preserves their dignity and increases their hope is critical. Telling people that the smart economy is going to provide all the solutions and that economic growth will lift all boats does not help these people. Many fear a permanent slump in their individual fortunes as a result of their prolonged unemployment even if the national economy recovers.

Forget about the rioters. Think about all those people who are not rioting who are experiencing the same problems. Failure to address these problems will have devastating consequences for individuals as well as society at large.

The riots have far more to do with family breakdown than with the current economic situation. There is indeed very little unemployment in London, although there is elsewhere in Britain. I haven’t been served by a London-born waiter in London since approximately the 1970s. And, when I was there a few weeks ago, I saw numerous signs in shops advertising for staff, while my Sunday morning train to Milton Keynes got cancelled due to ‘shortage of staff’.

However, regrettably, once-great England is now the world leader in potty left-liberal social experimentation, leading to the demise of the traditional family and collapse of traditional moral values. Whether it is births among under-16s, children who have never known their father or had a male role model, women having children by multiple men, abortion on demand, marriage breakup, divorce, students dropping out of school early, public displays of pornography, dogging, prostitution and associated trafficking of young girls from abroad, drug-taking, venereal disease, aids, knifings, lack of attendance at Church, suppression of public display of religious symbols, media mockery of religious belief, promotion of atheism, abandonment of all the traditional things that hold society together, England now leads the world. If these things were all made into Olympic sports, England would top the leader board in Gold medals at next year’s London Olympics by a mile. This is having predictably disastrous results. I use the term ‘England’ advisedly, as the process is less advanced in Scotland and Wales, which rarely suffer the rioting that England does.

Naturally, most of Ireland’s home-grown trendy left-liberals want the same here, and they have had some success in achieving it, as a result of their domination of the Dublin 4 media. The Golden Rule in Ireland is: once some potty piece of social experimentation has been carried out long enough in England for it to be proven conclusively to be a total disaster, that is invariably the moment in time at which Ireland’s home-grown left-liberals demand its introduction here, and are invariably backed up in their demand by the Dublin 4 media.

The latest example: it has been shown that the birth rate among under-16 girls is far lower in Ireland than in Britain, 0.9 in Ireland versus 5.5 in Britain, and that the rate of venereal disease among teenagers in Ireland os one-quarter that of Britain (link below). So, naturally, most of Ireland’s home-grown trendy left-liberals want Ireland to introduce the identical policies that have led to these disasters in Britain. Some people simply never learn.

bill cosby has been a rare voice of sanity regarding the collapse of the black family in the us and the lack of male role models.
fed announces no qe3 btw.

However, regrettably, once-great England

The “greatness” of machine-gunning natives, and colonising and holding conquered lands by force of arms?


I wasn’t referring to their imperialism. Indeed, I suspect that I have been more of a victim of that than most on this site. I was referring to their once-renowned social stability, which has gone down the plughole in recent decades.

For me these are the actions of mindless consumers as opposed to citizens. They don’t care about politics and know nothing of equity/morality, their public institutions, political, business, church, media and banks have mostly failed them, and in some cases have actually promoted self interested opportunism. Obviously the hollowing out of industry in favour of financial services in addition to Camerions Big cuts/society have contributed in that they have eroded these consumers ability to consume. Of course social media has helped keep the fire burning, if you’ll excuse the pon, ‘The London Summer’, I hope the ‘Arab Spring’ bears it in mind if/when they go about building their respective socities over the next decades.

post at 7.16pm +1

The Telegraph article refers to an “under-educated non-workforce”. One well known cure for under-education is to attend school and get educated. Once educated someone may actually find some gainful employment.

If you find yourself in London cuaght up in the riots and mayhem find yourself a book shop or library. You’re sure to be safe in either.

@David Burke

“Typical Murdoch rubbish.”

I can assure you, Murdoch is delighted that he is off the front page. Keep your eye on this being a good time to release bad news.

I’m just listening to Hazel Blears giving a lecture on how these young rioters should get out and work hard, get qualifications and get themselves a job, this kind of behaviour can’t be excused etc. Would someone please pass the sick bucket. Her behaviour of course is perfectly excusable.

I wrote a screenplay once, back in my younger days (sadly called ‘Underclass’ – I’m going to have to change it now) and the story goes along the lines of months of rioting and looting over a hot summer (by the kind of people JtO describes above), all driven by pure criminality/unemployment/drugs/breakdown of the family etc. but in my story, one big gang breaks into an army barracks and steals all the guns. All hell breaks loose and then there are copycat events and you can imagine how it all goes downhill from there. The stockmarket crashed as a result, society breaks down etc.

I think I must be one of those ‘visionaries.’ How did I end up in financial services PR? Sigh.

@ JTO 7.16pm

‘lack of attendance at Church, suppression of public display of religious symbols, media mockery of religious belief, promotion of atheism’

Are you serious? Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg are more secular societies than UK and Denmark is nearly as secular. That is if you equate ‘lack of belief in a god or life force’ with secularism. According to this report:

I don’t think many people would consider Sweden or Denmark failed societies.

@obsessive maths freak at 15:48

Very well observed.

@everyone: Watch out, racist trolls about.

Most social issues can seldom be explained in a soundbite.

It took several decades to stamp out football hooliganism, which was a particularly British issue.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that most of the 400,000 new jobs that were created in the first year of the coalition were given to migrants.

Employers likely view migrants as more dependent workers.

Even in times of relative prosperity such as in France in 2006 when measures were proposed that could have increased the hiring potential of young people, there can be a violent reaction.

Economic growth must be the principal solution; there are several other social issues but with no easy solution or none.

@ zhou_enlai

Providing work schemes and skills development for people on welfare in a way that preserves their dignity and increases their hope is critical.

A well-meaning aspiration but some of these social programmes without sanction end up just as gravy trains for the providers.

An ESRI study earlier this year said that those who are assisted by the State while unemployed were less likely to return to work than the average welfare recipient. The researchers said that welfare recipients may have learned “as a consequence of the process, that they were unlikely to face monitoring or sanctions as a result of failure to search actively for, or obtain, employment, leading to some decline in job search intensity.”

@ all
Brilliant contributions. Genuinely. OMF gets the blue riband and Dork the novelty prize.

Read The Bronx is Burning.The story of the ’77 blackout in New York and the free for all that followed.Led to some harsh medicine being administered in the years that followed.


Whether it is births among under-16s, children who have never known their father or had a male role model, women having children by multiple men, abortion on demand, marriage breakup, divorce, students dropping out of school early, public displays of pornography, dogging, prostitution and associated trafficking of young girls from abroad, drug-taking, venereal disease, aids, knifings,

All of the above are byproducts of lack of investment in education, and ghettoisation (inequality).
As john Foody points out, in country’s where they do invest you dont get the byproducts.

There a certain estates in England (and Ireland) where political parties don’t even bother to put up posters at election time.

As for lack of attendance at church: What if you don’t happen to believe in all that mumbo jumbo?

I live in an area where there are well to do areas and also some rough council estates.
The level of open vitriol for people from the council estates (scobes, scobeens, knackers as they are called by the more well off) is on the rise.
They are segregated marginalized and let know daily that they are far inferior to the others.
Unless we reverse the massive shift of the last 30 years away from increased inequality, then Ireland faces a similar problems to that which we are seeing in the UK.

There is quite a depressing but worthwhile Bob Hoskins film called 24/7 that illustrates what I am talking about.

I disagree with Michael Hennigan where he says that growth is the main answer to this, the USA proves that is not the case.
Its more about income inequality.

The blue prints are available from the Nordics. We have a choice.

@ Eamonn Moran

I often write about inequality, including in the US.

However, economic growth would make the biggest contribution to cutting the deficit; in its absence, in the US, if the Republicans get their way, they will decimate many education and social programmes.


I stand by the opening statement except that it now seems many of those looting were not actually that young.

One of the first to be charged I’m led to be believe was a 20 something IT Consultant ! Blackberries and IT Consultancy – it’s begining to make sense now. I expect more of this to emerge.

Those contributors wishing to change their tune in relation to the reasons for this behaviour feel free and that includes the Telegraph correspondent. Folks wise up.

Beautifully said! A system in which one rule applies for the poor and another for the rich is dangerous. When the rich get away with theft on the basis that, well they’re too big to fail and when you mix that with an insidious culture of consumerism (your value is measured by the consumer crap you have accumulated) then you deserve what you get.

We have fed the younger generation with decades of “what you have is what you’re worth….go on you deserve it…borrow a bit more!” and when it blew up we all got to see that this was an insider game, the rich that lent you the money get the free ride, the poorer ones that borrowed it get the shyte…they pay back what they borrowed AND they get to pay back the losses of the “betters” through higher taxes! Great system!

And when theybsay screw that, oooooooh it’s their mammies are bad oul’ ones

@Eamonn Moran

The table that John Foody gives a link to shows that only 4% of people in Ireland agree with your assessment that it is all ‘mumbo-jumbo’. Even in your secular Nordic paradises, only about 20% hold this view. I also see from today’s newspapers that Lough Derg is beating the recession and its numbers are up, which must be shocking news to Dublin 4 left-liberals.

The job descriptions of those going before the courts in England for rioting don’t support your claim that it is down to inequality. Lots of university students among them, not to mention the daughter of a wealthy businessman, a couple of teaching assistants, and so on.

Regarding Ireland, your claims about growing inequality are not borne out. From the SILC surveys, which, I am sure that you, as a poverty activist, are fully aware of, the number below the (60% median)) poverty line has fallen every year in Ireland since 2001 and is now below the EU average:

LIIS 2001 21.9%
SILC 2003 19.7%
SILC 2004 19.4%
SILC 2005 18.5%
SILC 2006 17.0%
SILC 2007 16.5%
SILC 2008 14.4%
SILC 2009 14.1%

I wonder what the Dublin 4 liberal-left’s explanation is for the much lower rate of under-16 pregnancies in Ireland, as compared to the UK? According to all their theories, it should be the other way round. Presumably, that is why they are so silent on the matter, while continuing to campaign for UK policies on this matter to be implemented in Ireland.

As pointed out by John Sheehan Mary Riddle is (very much) of the left, formerly (currently?) with the Observer, she was on Newsnight last night, not blowing anyone away, but WAY more coherent that the politicians on.

Everyone (esp. economists of all stripes) should read up on equality economics, and make up their minds on what side of the “more equality is good / bad”. pop sci. “The Spirit Level” and the “Spirit Level Delusion” are a decent start.

My personal view is that extreme inequality, as in any city pretty much anywhere, without strong stable support systems and a “floor” on poverty and access, is a bad bad thing.

London used to have that floor, a cold hard floor, but a floor nonetheless, it’s being taken away, tile by tile, rent allowance, ELA, childrens services, down to money for ping pong balls, with a very public crackdown on benefit fraud, and those rioting (despicable one and all, and should be punished) are not idiots and as in any conflict of suppression, lashing out is inevitable, for any reason and none. It’s just all so desperately sad and eminently fixable with a political will.

The poverty line can drop while inequality grows, as you know well. Strong social welfare provisions have helped immeasurably… the same as those now being chipped away.

Anyone trying to claim that more traditional religious societies / regular church attendees don’t riot or lash out / break stuff, when things are stacked against them hasn’t been watching the news (or read any history).

re: Job descriptions of those in court. These are reported BECAUSE they are unusual, not because they are the norm. Dog bites man is not a story.

My liberal left view, non D4, (but me Ma is from Sandymount so I’ll lay claim to some ‘blue blood’!) having lived in London for 5 years, and home for 30 is that Irish families are bigger (tip of the hat to the good old RCC!) , societies are often smaller (i.e. closer), more generally rural / semi rural and have far better family lives than huge sections of the population in innercity London/Birmingham. Even in very poor homes, our safety nets are way better than those over here, so the worst aspects of falling into the dark tunnel of “why not burn out a police car” thankfully hasn’t turned off. I’m not saying we can’t get there if austerity measures continue at pace, but countries leave people behind at their peril.

“I wonder what the Dublin 4 liberal-left’s explanation is for the much lower rate of under-16 pregnancies in Ireland, as compared to the UK?”
Dont know, you will have to ask them?

I agree that Inequality was on the fall in Ireland in the last decade mainly thanks to generous FF social welfare increases. Credit where its due.

I didnt make my point clearly.
The point I was making was that I am just recently seeing the growing disgust from the more well off the less well off and the comment about the “last 30 years” was referring to US and UK.
I guess I was trying to warn against going down that road rather than saying we are on it already.
As for belief in a higher power (what ever helps you sleep at night) it does not have to be a prerequisite for thinking more equality is important.

In fact many US republicans can marry beliefs in extreme inequality and extreme God at the same time.

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