The way children are perceived is often a self-fulfilling prophecy: they tend to live up or down to our expectations. If we persist in demonising young people - portraying them as trouble-makers who need to be kept off our streets - we shouldn't be surprised if some of them, at least, turn out to be demons.I've read elsewhere that many in the political classes think that the ned problem is caused by "deprivation". Is that so? The unemployment rate in West Lothian is 2%, falling to a mere 1% in Mid Calder itself.
There's something much more fundamental going on here. The "ned" problem is, I believe, an inevitable consequence of Britain's welfare state. It's worse here because we adopted mass welfarism before other places and, unlike elsewhere in Europe, our elites hate their own country, its history and its values.
(For further evidence of our intellectual bankrupty, read here:
And author and campaigner George Monbiot said: “When you step into a superstore, you are faced with a choice of two crimes: joining the poor in stealing from the rich, or helping the rich to steal from the poor.
“Both are wrong, but one crime is surely more heinous than the other.”)
Comments made on previous template:
I'm afraid that your definition of "ned" is correct. Perhaps Ned should call himself Ed if he visits us.
12 December 2005, 07:22:36 GMT
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What's a "ned"? A juvenile delinquent? We don't use that term in the US. I'm now wondering if I should have made my son's nickname Ned. If he ever goes to Scotland, will that be a problem?
9 December 2005, 20:53:19 GMT
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I'm sorry, you're wrong.
In this country laws are made by the Monarch in Parliament. They have nothing to do with popular opinion - sometimes even less to do with the mandate actually given. They don't just happen.
Using your criterion, if the Abortion Act of 1967 was introduced to hunt down the Vera Drakes, precisely what aspects of the situation changed to justify its much more universal application now? Did the attitude of people change? Don't know, they've never been asked. Has the attiutde of Parliament changed? It must have.
The essence of Christianity is 'Repent, and believe the Good News'; all the 'Thou Shalt Nots' date from about 2,000 years before that. The great decline in Christian practice began in the '60's; just as the permissive society was taking off. You speak of a 'market' for religion, forgetting that all markets ever do is find their lowest cost, and the the market with the most members always survives - in this country, likely to be Christianity.
Don't underestimate the power of religion in the Republic of Ireland - it still maintains a powerful influence, though not the stranglehold it did in the days of Archbishop McQuade.
My solution is not one likely to be shared by the author of this blog - complete international isolationism; no taxes; import tariffs at 40%; and an economy where what is produced within the country is consumed by the country, and where we are capable of producing all that we consume, which we most certainly not capale of doing now. That program might bring us to the end of the road, or else it would require our industries to revive, and the unemployed youth of today would have a far greater chance of finding skilled, well-paying work that suits thir talents and with prospects than working in call-centres which can disappear to India overnight.
By assuming destitution if welfre is withdrawn, you forget the possible role which could be played by the charitable sector; or even, God forbid, the destitute's own families. And as a humble private sector drone whose only interfaces with the public sector are council tax and rubbish collection, the next time I hear the phrase 'world-class public services' I'm going to wretch.
6 December 2005, 23:29:48 GMT
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I think the original article and this debate is based on a largely false premise: that the youth of today are worse than at other times. All reliable indicators show that crime is not rising but falling. I don't think crime by teenagers is a special case. It is possible that we are complaining more about children and teenagers (though I'm not sure if that's the case either).
The original question posed by the article was, "OK, but what's your solution?" Assuming that crime amongst teenagers is rising, and welfare is the problem, what's your solution?
What, for that matter, is welfare? Is it just money payments for unemployment? Does it include money payments to the disabled? Does it include free healthcare for all or publicly provided pensions? Does it include free fire services or police protection for all?
If you take welfare away, don't a proportion of people just become destitute? Will you tolerate the results - perhaps more street begging, more shoplifting, and more street crime? - leaving morality aside, these are often an equally rational economic response to getting a grim job on a subsistence wage.
6 December 2005, 18:37:55 GMT
"The primary planks of the 'permissive society' - liberalised abortion, the de facto abolition of the death penalty, etc - were all, to my understanding, implemented by way of the parliamentary 'free vote'."
I doubt either of those were all that significant in bring about the permissive society, permissiveness never extended to killing people willy nilly! Abortion reform was to try and cut out back street abortionists, the legislation responded to the changing situation. If drugs were to be legalized it would be because a lot of people choose to take them, not as a result of anything the government might do in Parliament.
"- what about the decline of Christianity? That has had absolutely nothing to do with economics"
I disagree; it has everything to do with economics. Organized or official - Religion declines in direct proportion to a nations economic prosperity. For me the essence of Christianity in its historical context has always been Thou shall not, in other words it was a religion that reflected the values of a society where scarcity and shortage were the norm. And while people remain broadly religious, they tend to have a pick and mix attitude to religion and morality. These laughable alternative faiths (fortune tellers, faith healers etc) are symptomatic of the privatization of religion, and what you end up with is several different sets of values (and faiths) all competing in a market place, and it is the consumer who ultimately wields power. That is a considerable change from what Christianity once was, and demonstrate how prosperity has completey inverted out values.
As the poorest nation in Western Europe Ireland remained the most religious, but - like other comparable nations - prosperity has reduced the influence of religion considerably.
"And Kenny, I like your final sentence - "It is those who can't handle their freedom that are the problem". I think I know precisely what you're driving at, but do you see just how authoritarian that sounds?"
Hey I'm just stating a fact! 8)
5 December 2005, 19:42:35 GMT
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Martin seems to have struck the nail on the head. I'm adding him to my blogroll with immediate effect.
5 December 2005, 19:16:25 GMT
"The reason the permissive society post-dated the welfare state by 20 years is because it took time for people to adjust"
Adjust to what? The primary planks of the 'permissive society' - liberalised abortion, the de facto abolition of the death penalty, etc - were all, to my understanding, implemented by way of the parliamentary 'free vote'. Nobody ever had to adjust to anything by being asked to vote on it. What happened was that the attitude of our parliamentarians adjusted to it - I don't think the people ever did.
And I don't think the murder of Theo van Gogh, and the signifcant social difficulties it exposed, stands out as a shining example of the success of the 'permissive society' in the Netherlands.
I disagree with you on the importance of economics. You write "I think economics is the key factor when we look at changing morality." - what about the decline of Christianity? That has had absolutely nothing to do with economics, yet this generation are probably the first not to be able to recite sections of the Bible by rote. That was the consequence of an an ideological decision, not an economic one. Are our societies any better off for the decline of Christianlity? More tolerant? Are others more tolerant of us? Doesn't look like it.
And Kenny, I like your final sentence - "It is those who can't handle their freedom that are the problem". I think I know precisely what you're driving at, but do you see just how authoritarian that sounds?
5 December 2005, 09:29:57 GMT
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"You are forgetting that the massive rise in illegitimacy is a consequence of the engineered 'permissive society' and not either increased prosperity or welfarism."
Well that is an argument about cause and effect, isn't it? The reason the permissive society post-dated the welfare state by 20 years is because it took time for people to adjust. People raised in post war austerity found it difficult to change, their children were different. But the 'permissive society' is common across the western world, and in all comparable nations, it is not unique to Britain, though some nations (like Holland) have dealt with it better than we have.
"Increased prosperity cannot alone be the cause in increased illegitimacy."
It is not the only factor, but it is the primary factor.
"And with all due respect, Kenny, it's something of a 'de minimis' argument to try to compare a system of juvenile penology which went out in the 1840's with practices today."
Not really, both then and now are to a large degree determined by our level of economic prosperity. The main reason I would resist doing anything that make the nation poorer is that poor societies are more intolerant, and I don't like that. I think economics is the key factor when we look at changing morality.
It is also worth remebering that economic prosperity has - to those who can handle their freedom - been a great liberator for the common man. It is those who can't handle their freedom that are the problem.
5 December 2005, 01:37:08 GMT
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You are forgetting that the massive rise in illegitimacy is a consequence of the engineered 'permissive society' and not either increased prosperity or welfarism. The permissive society post-dated the welfare state by 20 years.
Increased prosperity cannot alone be the cause in increased illegitimacy.
And with all due respect, Kenny, it's something of a 'de minimis' argument to try to compare a system of juvenile penology which went out in the 1840's with practices today. I would argue that such changes are never to do with prosperity and always to do with ideology.
4 December 2005, 23:49:56 GMT
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"Are you saying that the individual's duty to take responsibility for their actions is somehow affected by economic conditions?"
It is the crucial factor.
"Are you thinking along the lines that,perhaps, increasing the use of fines and compensation orders might reduce crime?"
No not at all. Let my try and make myself clearer.
Take for example illegitimacy. In the past when society was less economically prosperous than it is now, society demanded that women who had children out of wedlock either went to the workhouse, or gave them up for adoption. Now there is nothing new about having bastard children, the rich have been doing if for centuries, the Stewart kings had many bastards.
However we must look at the role of the welfare state in all of this. As the nations economic prosperity increased, benefits for unmarried mothers improved, and as a consequence the number of children born out of wedlock has increased dramatically if you compare the figures at the beginning and end of the 20th century.
What prosperity has allowed is for a woman to have a child regardless of her circumstances or marital condition, and she can either pay for it herself, or welfare will pay for it. In other words what was once the preserve of the rich (because they could always afford it) is now the preserve of the masses (because we as a society can afford it).
That is but one example; I could give other regarding divorce, theft of property etc. Compare the way a child in Victorian Britain could be transported to Australia for stealing a hankie, with the indulgent way criminal children are treated now. That is a direct result of rising prosperity. That is what I mean when I said a “personal behavior has no consequences for the person himself”
I suppose what I am really saying is that a nice harsh recession would make a big difference.
4 December 2005, 22:38:19 GMT
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'Youth is by its nature nihilistic'?
Come on! That's a bit sweeping, isn't it?
I practiced criminal law (not very well) for a number of years, and the pattern that I saw amongst neds, not hardened career criminals or the drug addicted, was that their peak offending years were between 16 to 25. Those were the golden years, when if you had a ned who regularly got into trouble you could make a small fortune.
It would surprise you just how few neds one saw day in, day out who had been privately educated, came from stable nuclear families or who had not been in the welfare system since birth. I have to say I think your comments about a cross section of teenagers getting involved in thuggery are wrong, if only because they differ so wildly from my own experience.
However, I agree with you absolutely about failure to police communities; which as is much the result of having politically correct Chief Constables as the welfare state.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand your final paragraph. Are you saying that the individual's duty to take responsibility for their actions is somehow affected by economic conditions? Are you thinking along the lines that,perhaps, increasing the use of fines and compensation orders might reduce crime? If so, I would have to respectfully disagree with you. Fines don't work. I once sat through a Means Court in Clydebank where the subject of the hearing glued his hand to the bar rather than pay the fine.
4 December 2005, 21:59:53 GMT
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David you are half right.
While (ahem) "neds" are usually bred in the playpen of welfare socialism where personal responsibility is unheard of, it is not entirely bred there.
Youth by its nature is nihilistic, and for those few years when a person is of nedable age, it will draw in a cross section of the teenage populi. These same people will eventually grow out of it as adulthood imposes itself upon them.
The problem is we were once very good at policing our own communities, and we are not any longer. The concept of Rough Music, which you can read about in the books of EP Thompson (a socialist and communist historian), once prevailed. It no longer does as communities have fragmented and lost their coherence, and yes that is partially because of welfareism.
But it is not the whole story. Rising prosperity has also led to us to the point where we can afford to pay for the consequences of a society where personal behavior has no consequences for the person himself. That is from where the ned problem emerges.
4 December 2005, 17:58:49 GMT
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You are absolutely correct.
Welfarism was the "root cause" of the havoc in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; it was the "root cause" of the recent rioting in France; and it is the "root cause" of the disgusting, appalling behaviour that those of us who are merely trying to get on with life in Scotland, particularly in the west, have to wade through as part of our social scenery.
Every single MSP should ask themself the question; if a natural disaster of Katrina's scale hit Glasgow, would the aftermath be any different? One would hope that the honest ones would answer that it course it would not. The rioting and looting would be on an equal, if not grander, scale.
Welfarism is social cancer.
The hatred of the elites is a given; however, I would respectfully add to your observations that what differentiates our neds from the Euroneds is that Anglo-Saxon cultures elevate individualism in a way that other European cultures do not; and therefore our neds would still be neds regardless of whether or not they receive welfare.
4 December 2005, 17:22:14 GMT
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