Well, the story about how badly our children are getting on is certainly getting some press coverage, like at the Guardian, the BBC, the Independent and even the “super soaraway Sun give it a fair go. It was of course all over the late BBC News last night and Breakfast as well.
Why is everyone so shocked? This finding is probably the single most obvious piece of research that will published this year. The reasons are, I suppose manifold, but can be traced back all the way to the 1970’s and the rise of Milton Friedman. Of course, Keith Joseph became one of Milton’s apostles and spread the word to Margaret Thatcher, who began the process of dismantling the socioeconomic structures that had managed to sustain us. There were problems before then, it would be utterly foolish to pretend otherwise, but it seems that we have lost much of what was good about this country at that time. Perhaps this is also at the heart of our so-called “English identity crisis” that keeps cropping up in the media form time to time these days.
Anyway, I digress. remember that “Mrs Thatch” (© Ben Elton) once famously said,
“There is no such thing as society, only the individual and the family”.
Not only was this preposterously simple-minded (what is society after all but the concept of family taken to a logical extension?), but hugely corrosive. She it was who began the process of dismantling the social structures that fostered all that we now complain about losing. And encouraged the birth of the acquisitive “Me too, fuck everyone else” philosophy that is her one true and lasting legacy to this day.
Worse, since 1997, the mantra hasn’t changed. There is lots of talk about “social inclusion” and other touchy-feely, feel-good platitudes, but at heart what we have now is a political system that is largely unchanged since the early eighties.
Our children are the price we are paying for our economic performance. Is it worth it? Of course not. But so many people are so wrapped up in consumerism or are so poorly paid, needing to keep their heads above water, that the neglect of our children is increasing. And so the middle classes ply their offspring with more and more “things” and feel the type of typical middle-class guilt that goes with it. All the while they go to the maddest, most extreme lengths to get their kids into “the right school”, to have the “right friends” because without that them, they won’t be able to to do the “right degree” at the “right university” and get the “right job” afterwards so they can repeat the same insane process.
It’s madness and it has to stop. But it won’t.