Monday, May 23, 2005

You can't legislate respect

There have been a lot of reports about yob culture in the last week, but the latest incident plumbs new depths. In one of the most sickening incidents to date, vandals desecrated a cemetary in Greater Manchester. About 60 headstones were damaged and keepsakes had been scattered around the scene. It follows a week in which a funeral cortege was attacked by a teenage gang, and a teenager was knocked out by an attack that was filmed on a mobile phone and then distributed around her school.

With every attack, you hear the same cry: "the Government has to do something" or "let's bring in a new law". Well Labour has been promising to do something for the last eight years (they're also promising to do something in the next four), and the Tories were promising for umpteen years before that. Maybe one day, we'll wake up and realise what a vicious circle we're in.

The best thing the government can do is to let go, to wash their hands of the whole affair and to leave law and order to the people who are actually having to put up with crime, the local community. Make the Police accountable to the local community instead of the government, have people elect their police chiefs, and make local prosecutors answerable to the local electorate. As Tony Blair has himself admitted:
"I cannot solve all these problems... I can start a debate on this and I can legislate. What I cannot do is raise someone's children for them."
Isn't it about time we weaned ourself off our government dependency? As Ronnie Reagan famously said, the nine most dangerous words in the english vocabluary are "Im-from-the-government-and-I'm-here-to-help".