Saturday, 24 December 2005

In charge of their communities? Right, sit down. You know why you’re here. Do you recognise these terms? “Tearaway children,” “unruly children,” “low-level disorder,” "off the rails," “problem behaviour,” “parents of troublesome children.” Yes, good. Now, what we’re going to do is to change the culture of the country, to put the law-abiding majority back in charge of their communities. Starting with you lot. Right. Well, you at the back there, what is it? Please sir, I was just wondering if society had been saying, “we don’t give a toss about you, we’ll make sure you’re not welcome anywhere, we’ll demolish your sense of neighbourhood attachment and belonging by promoting cars and exploitative economics and discouraging local social networks, we’ll slag you off in the media, we won’t invest in your future, we’ll reinforce the culture of individuality from which you are excluded, and… tell you what, we’ll make sure you get some spurious consultation every now and then too.” Well, what are you trying to say? I’m trying to say, are you sure that this is altogether the best approach, the most comprehensive and the one with the least negative side-effects? And while I’m at it, what do you mean by people being ‘in charge of their communities’? Does someone have to be in charge and in control and giving orders all the time? Is that the only model of social organisation on offer? Who knows? The Telegraph today anticipates a new virile prime ministerial policy by which authorities will be able to intervene when they suspect that a child is having problems, and do not have to wait until an offence is committed. ‘Intervene in what way?’ I hear you ask. Well, this is all to do with parenting orders (for which the Home Office guidance, as they apply to England, is here).

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