Britain — a nation of broken windows

Over at FrontPage Magazine, you can read an interview with Martin Durkin, describing Britain’s staggering social decline during its long years as a welfare state.  It was a slow decline at first.  When I lived there in the early 1980s, it still wasn’t clear that it was hovering on the verge of breaking entirely with a grand historic past that saw a plucky, independent, self-sufficient people who once (for better or worse) ruled the world.  In the past 20 years, though, Britain has been in free fall.  If you read the British press regularly, as I do, you’ll have no problem recognizing Durkin’s description of modern Britain:

Overall, I think in general the bigger evil effects of welfare have been enormously underestimated, even by commentators who regard themselves as more pro-capitalist in their sympathies. Welfare is the basic cause of the deleterious cultural changes we have witnessed in the West over the past 60 years.

The Welfare State, pioneered in Britain of course, has corrupted this country to its core. It has transformed the country caricatured by Noel Coward and others – essentially pretty decent, self-reliant, and plucky – into a country which is thuggish, selfish, mindless, dispirited and lost. Gone is the British stiff upper lip. Modern Britons are moaning, self-pitying inadequates. The welfare state has bred a generation of obnoxious, drug-addled criminals and ne’er-do-wells. It has also, incidentally, burdened what was once the world’s biggest, most dynamic economy with the dead weight of an obstructive and vastly expensive state machine.

I’m sorry to sound cross about this, but I don’t think people fully realise what’s happened. Britain has, I think, the highest crime rate of any industrialised country in the world. It is twice as high as the US. The violent crime rate is higher in London than New York. Britain has the highest rate of drug abuse, the highest teenage pregnancy rate and the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease in the modern industrial world.

The shrinking minority of Brits that hasn’t given up on maintaining some basic standards is increasingly finding itself beleaguered, not by fellow citizens, but by its own officials.  On the one hand, British officials are occupying themselves with every picayune rule conceivable, on such earthshaking subjects as paint, bicycles, food wrapping, or whatever other silly, bureaucratic pettifogging you (or, rather, they) can think of, and approach that seems them harassing and bankrupting the shrinking law-abiding, income-generating middle class.

On the other hand, those same officials have given up on the infinitely harder work of maintaining social order.  They’re doing the equivalent of allowing windows to remain broken and graffiti to scar the walls.  Here is just the latest story of British officialdom’s willingness to let the country slide in an amoral, unlivable morass:

A mother shocked by seeing two half-naked men having sex while out walking the dogs with her daughter was told by police to take a different route in future.

Marie Cragg, 44, spoke of her disgust at the officers’ reaction and said she feared the woodland beauty spot would be turned into a no-go area for ordinary members of the public.

The men seen by Miss Cragg and her 18-year-old daughter Jessica were stripped from the waist down and carried on with their activities even after they knew they had been spotted.

‘I called the police and never heard anything back,’ Miss Cragg said.

‘Then later I was talking to the community officers, and they said they knew what goes on and I should change our walk.

‘You should not have to see that, should you? They can go into the woods and go wherever they want  –  it’s sick.

‘They saw me and didn’t care and just carried on. I could have been a childminder with kids. I would rather go past a gang of hoodies  –  they are making the place seedy.’

The encounter happened on a public footpath where Miss Cragg was walking the family dogs, Molly and Ruby, near their home in Penwortham, near Preston, last week.

It follows a briefing last month by the deputy chief constable of Lancashire, Mike Cunningham, in which he called for police to turn a blind eye to outdoor sexual activity.

Under the Sexual Offences Act anyone who takes part in ‘dogging’, where couples meet for sex in car parks, and cottaging, where men meet for sex in public lavatories, face arrest for outraging public decency, voyeurism and exposure.

But Mr Cunningham, who is also a spokesman on homosexual issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, argues that offenders should only be prosecuted as a last resort because of the potential impact on their lives of making their activities public.

Read the rest here.

I hesitate to weigh down the above-quoted Deputy Chief Constable Cunningham with some simple common sense, but I just have to say this:  Perhaps, just perhaps, if people knew public sexual activities would actually expose them to consequences (as opposed to just an audience), they might refrain.

Britain, while always far from perfect, was nevertheless something of a light among nations during its heyday.  It was the first amongst modern nations to give up some of the worst national vices, such as slavery, the political subjugation of women, child labor, and imperialism.  That is, it was not free of sin, but it stood out from other nations by recognizing and abandoning its wrongful conduct.  Now . . . well, now it’s a pathetic slum country, not even proud of, but instead embarrassed by, its rich and often honorable past.  It’s so sad.