Monday, May 26, 2008

Nostalgia for a bygone age

When I was growing up in the and 1970s and 80s, there was a tendency amongst the older generation to bemoan the behaviour of unruly teenagers and to get nostalgic about the 1950s, the "good ol' days" when murderers were hanged and when unruly school pupils got the cane. Much of that generation has died off or has long retired. It has been replaced by an ageing baby boomer generation who similarly cling to a bygone age, this time the 1960s, and who seem determined to stick to their discredited utopian ideals by any means necessary. The problem is that much of that generation are now sitting in parliament, running our education system and judging in our courts.

It seems to me that over the past 40 years, our politics have come full circle. Where we once had an elitist establishment of toffs running the country, we now have an elitist establishment of guardian readers running our country instead. And much like the toffs, they are highly educated, enjoy a priveleged lifestyle and understand little of what goes on beyond their enclaves of Islington and Hampstead.

Your average voter may not be Oxford educated, nor are they particularly well versed in the ideals of penal reform, but they understand that taking violent offenders off the street would make their housing estates safer and that a more visible police presence would ward off the thugs who terrorise their neighbourhood. But instead they are patronised by a ruling elite which believes that criminals are victims and that regards any effort to be tough on crime as pandering to the tabloids. The Labour party used to be the anti-establishment party and on the side of the underdog, but now they are the establishment. You can understand why Labour's election tactics backfired so spectacularly in Crewe. There is little point in attacking toffs when you end up behaving increasingly like them.