Britain isn’t broken, but its citizens are broke

Dr Angus Cameron,  Department of Geography, University of Leicester:

The short answer to the question ‘Is Britain broken?’ is clearly ‘no’.  This is not because Britain is somehow perfect, but because it is not a single thing.  There are lots of Britains for the simple reason that there are lots of Britons – and they are a gloriously mixed up bunch and have been for centuries.  Why then has this trite piece of alliteration attracted so much attention?  Like many effective campaign slogans it appeals vaguely to a nagging feeling at the back of many minds that things are not quite what they should be.  In other words, it is a slogan with which anyone with a gripe can happily (perhaps grumpily) agree.  And this can range from concerns about things like the NHS or schools to just about anything else.  This way of representing social and political problems is pernicious not just because it is simplistic, but because it directs blame in particular directions.  The implication is that if Britain is broken, someone must have broken it and that usually draws our attention towards whoever or whatever is ‘new’ or ‘different’ – unruly youth, immigrant communities, benefit claimants, unmarried mothers, the unemployed.

What is curious about this version of Broken Britain, however, is that almost by definition, the sorts of groups that are expected to carry the greatest responsibility for social problems are those that have the least power to create them.  Breaking a society, after all, presumably takes some doing.

The slogan implies that Britain was ‘unbroken’ at some unspecified point in the past.  Since Britain is and always has been a nation of immigrants (at least since the Vikings, Angles and Saxons turned up), that seems unlikely to be the cause of its disruption.  Similarly, we’ve been host to poverty since time immemorial and being a bit unruly is what young people do.  Nothing new there.  But during the same period that these groups started to be more noticeable (roughly from the mid-1950s onwards) a different set of disconnections began, that have a far more plausible claim to have ‘broken’ Britain.cameron-white-bg

First, loopholes started to appear to allow money to flow more quickly, and increasingly profitably, through the world’s financial markets without the state getting in the way.  New breeds of corporate ‘citizens’ were created that had the same (or more) rights as ordinary citizens, but a rather different set of responsibilities.  New technologies allowed these new citizens to locate more and more of their activities in the new spaces of the ‘offshore’ markets.  In short, a large part of ‘Britain’ (the wealthier bits of it) went elsewhere.

Like the many other countries struggling to deal with the current economic situation, Britain needs to address how it is that so much of the wealth it creates ends up circulating endlessly in money markets rather than improving the lives of ordinary people.  This is not just a question of persuading Vodaphone, Arcadia and the many other businesses to pay their taxes – important though this is – but means fundamentally rethinking what a ‘society’ means.  For (unbroken) Britain it meant having a high degree of social cohesion bought through economic redistribution – not socialism or communism, just common sense.  We have replaced that with a system that distributes responsibility downwards, but the resources needed to meet that responsibility lie elsewhere entirely.  Britain is not ‘broken,’ but many of its ordinary citizens are ‘broke’.  This is because a system intended to stimulate ‘our’ economy, is being used by a privileged minority to escape our society altogether.  We need to fix that.

Dr Angus Cameron is a lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Leicester. His research interests centre on the dynamic and dialectic relations between state, economy and civil society and the complex, overlapping spatialities of social, political, economic and cultural life. Read his blog.

29 Comments

  1. Chris Williams
    Posted 08/08/2011 at 23:21 | Permalink

    These riots did not come out of the blue. For some time politicians have allowed (some might say encouraged) the Met Police, in particular, to run out of control with total immunity for their illegal activities, including the killing of innocent unarmed people. This happened during Mrs Thatcher’s government and resulted in riots and now, not unexpectedly, this has happened agin now. Mrs Thatcher learnt the lesson and put the police back under control and spent large amounts in the riot districts of London and Liverpool. Now they are out of control again and the sooner Mr Cameron learns a similar lesson the better for all of us, the Met Police included.

    We do not yet know the circumstances of this latest killing but the Evening Stardard reported that it was allegedly a visious attack by a large number of police who used their riot shields to batter a 15 year old girl that turned the peaceful demo into a riot. Such tactics, seen elsewhere on mobile phone footage, has shown that the police have become a public menace rather than public protectors.

    Having created a riot, they failed to quell it and protect fire fighters and now every opportunist thug thinks it is open season to burn and loot. With no police on the streets they have little deterrent. It only takes a few of them to do immense damage. In Hackney tonight it was 50, in Croydon it was even fewer.

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  2. Bertie Wooster
    Posted 02/07/2011 at 19:39 | Permalink

    How the underclass has absorbed the dogma from the liberal elite; you are not responsible for your actions, it’s all the fault of society. Left-wingers think that simply giving away money as a reward for irresponsible, bad, violent or selfish behaviour (the Welfare State) solves problems. Rather, it has led to a significant proportion of people who cannot accept that their actions are caused by their deliberate choice. Through a combination of bad parenting and poor education people are no longer taught to think for themselves and therefore have no comprehension of the ideas of personal responsibility.This is the effect of the no-blame, no-shame, value-free ideology propounded for more than a generation by our schools, media and criminal justice system. The effect is to trap the poor in poverty and illiteracy and fragmenting families – because they are told that nothing they do is their fault, but rather that of ‘society’ … and in any case the state will always pick up the immediate task of mopping up. To subsidise fragmented families is to make them bearable and even desirable – so more families fragment. To ease up the pressure in schools on children to learn the basics is to make it easier for them to opt out of doing so – and so to ensure a generation of illiterates and innumerates .To go easy on petty crime is to allow youthful aberrations to become settled patterns of behaviour, with consequences that ruin the lives of all of us, and especially of the poorest who cannot escape the criminalised environments in which they are forced to live. To call such laxity ‘liberalism’ is a travesty and an outrage, for it delivers the poorest and weakest into a tyranny.

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    Chris Williams Reply:

    Yes, Britain has certainly changed. It used to be that the poor were not allowed to be responsible for their actions. We will ship your children to the colonies wether you like it or not and if they end up in the hands of pedophiles then we will look the other way. Now we complain because they learnt the lesson of not being responsible too well. When will we get it right!

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    LXmoderator Reply:

    You go too far, Bertie, even though I sympathize with some of the comments you make.

    You mention the liberal elite. Who are they? You say the underclass (who are they?) have absorbed the dogma that they are not responsible for their actions. I can’t recall this being promulgated by anyone, elite or otherwise. The law and social custom inculcate the opposite. If a criminal commits an offence he/she is punished and shown that he/she is responsible for their actions. Parents chastise children for wrong doing and try, in most cases, to change their behaviour. Schools try to teach that anti-social behaviour is wrong and pupils must be more responsible for what they do.

    Who says that everything wrong in individuals’ behaviour is the fault of the society? Some things are, such as unemployment, foreclosures suffered by responsible people through no fault of their own. To say that shortcomings in individual behaviour is the fault of society is to go too far.

    Although you a right to say that the welfare state does throw money at those who cheat the system. choosing to scrounge instead of work (if they can find it), nevertheless society and government has an obligation, a moral one, to help people who need it. What would you do with the severely disabled or the mentally retarded. Leave them to their own, and their families’ devices, that is, to neglect them?

    Much more can be said, but you get the drift.

    Bill Clarke
    Received via email and posted by the moderator on Bill’s behalf

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    Bertie Wooster Reply:

    Today, I am totally vindicated .

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    Bertie Wooster Reply:

    When one looks at the pictures of the wanton destruction, arson and looting by the immigrant thugs, one is reminded of the desolate landscape in Mad Max. London is becoming a war zone, no-go areas, sharia pickets off limits to law-abiding White citizens. This is the legacy of Phil Woolas’ “multiculural enrichment”, endorsed by Clegg, Cable, Camerooooon and all his fluffball cabinet.Theresa May? Last I heard, she blocked the appointment of a tried and tested NT cop to head the effect, politically-correct Yard. In America, some of the top cops kick ass; in UK, the Yard capitulates and appeases the thugs, in the interests of “multiculturalism”. Pictures of Cameroon genteely sipping coffee with Samantha, grinning sheepishly while London burns–probably planning the next round of concessions to the thugs. Britain is burning, the government is ignoring the problem, and ignoring the voices of protest from the citizenry… The cops are treating the murderous thugs with kid gloves. The authorities are releasing violent criminals and putting them on the streets. The criminals and the thugs have all the rights, the law abiding citizens have become disenfranchised. Our only function is to pay taxes so the government can pour more funds into the failed initiatives and further vandalize British culture. We must get used to living in Camerrroooooon’s UK. But no, there is another way.The downtrodden underdog law abiding British must not accept this.

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    Bertie Wooster Reply:

    I found the above on a news site and found it unfair ,inaccurate and a total over-reaction and mis-represntation of recent events.Do n’t you agree ?

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    Bill Clarke Reply:

    I agree, Bertie, that the passage you found on a news site is as you say but don’t see that this distorted tirade in any way vindicates your posting of the 2nd of July.

    That you think that the elite have persuade the underclass that they are not responsible for their actions but are the victims of society and will be looked after by the welfare state (all of which is vastly over-stated)in no way justifies, vindicates, the rioting and looting taking place in cities across the country.

    This mayhem has been brought about, not by the irresponsibility and pampering of the underclass but by the deprivation and unemployment they are suffering, the utter anger and frustration felt by so many young men.
    They are not responsible for their plight. The financiers and bankers who brought the present crisis about are responsible. Their speculating and gambling, with money they didn’t have, has produced the present chaos.

    You should be attacking and vilifying them, not their innocent victims.

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  3. Tom
    Posted 19/03/2011 at 15:53 | Permalink

    I’m sick of hearing that “… Britain is and always has been a nation of immigrants (at least since the Vikings, Angles and Saxons turned up)” since, even if it were true, it bears no relation to the mass-immigration we’re seeing now.

    Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to be true, Stephen Oppenheimer, looking at the DNA of the British, reckons that, “Two thirds of the English people reveal an unbroken line of genetic descent from south-western Europeans arriving long before the first farmers. Most of the remaining third arrived between 6,000 and 3,000 years ago as part of long-term north-west European trade and immigration, especially from Scandinavia – possibly carrying the earliest forms of English language.” – or that’s what’s on the back cover of his book “The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story”.

    Oppenheimer continues “Irish, Scots and Welsh … arrived via the Atlantic coastal route from Ice Age refuges including the Basque country; with the modern languages we call Celtic arriving later”.

    Perhaps nobody knows the truth and both parties are deceiving us – but I’ll believe the book before I accept the opinion that’s in this article.

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    James T Reply:

    It is true and it does have relevance. It demonstrates that minute genetic differences are irrelevant in forming a homogeneous, successful society.

    I accept when levels of immigration reach a point where that homogeneity comes under threat it does become an issue. But I don’t think Britain is in that position. And (not yours but other’s below) downright idiotic ramblings about immigration and race are not helpful.

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    Tom Reply:

    I believe that, being an island, the British are pretty homogenous, precious little recent immigration. And the DNA, at least according to Oppenheimer, strongly backs me my case – better than 5/6th (84%) of our DNA has been on these islands for over 5000 years.

    Hence, anyone who claims “we’re an immigrant nation” probably has an ulterior motive for trying to deceive me.

    So who is this “Dr Angus Cameron”? His publication list is here: http://www.le.ac.uk/gg/staff/academic_cameron_publications.pdf and he’s not a geneticist, he’s not a demographer, his earliest presentations were these: 1998 = “‘Welfare to Work or Welfare as Work? Combating Social Exclusion in the UK’”, “‘Third Sector Initiatives to Combat Social Exclusion in the UK’”
    “‘Local Initiatives to Combat Social Exclusion: Merging the Social and the Economic’”
    1997 “‘One World Divisible: The Global, The State and Social Exclusion’”

    So, is the information provided good enough to make me change my long established beliefs, and the academic DNA results about my own flesh and blood? I think not!

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    James T Reply:

    1. Neither of us are geneticists.

    2. Having said that 99%+ of human DNA is common to all humans.

    3. I simply don’t see how minor variations in DNA are relevant in a debate about homogeneity and modern Britain – which is essentially a debate about shared values and social cohesion. Not biological ancestry.

    4. Following the link you’ve supplied Dr Cameron looks like a human geographer drawing heavily on other social sciences. He’s not attempting to advance an argument based on genetics.

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    Tom Reply:

    I don’t believe we are an “immigrant nation”.

    The evidence from some of science (ie the DNA, probably the best possible) is firmly on my side.

    I’m keen to examine the conclusions of the “opinion” parts of this article, but I will insist the discussion be based on facts and not myths. Of course, not everyone in Leicester may wish to be as rigorous.

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    Angus Cameron Reply:

    Indeed I am not a geneticist. Nor, for the record, am I an economist, demographer, planner, technologist or politician. I’m not even really a geographer, though as almost everything I do involves spatial theory and/or analysis of one kind or another people have been kind enough not to notice. At risk of upsetting Tom even further, however, I do have a professional background in journalism and an academic training that includes Art History, International Relations, International Political Economy and, most recently, Contemporary Performance Art.

    In doing all this I am quite deliberately ignoring the narrow taxonomies and hierarchies of knowledge of the sort that would dictate that, say, only an economist could comment on the economy or a geneticist can discuss, well, people. My comments about the variety of the British people are not, therefore, based on specific scientific analysis, but on experience and observation – including, but not reducible to, my academic work. I don’t really care where anyone’s DNA came from because it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on how they function as people in our very varied society.

    So do I have an ulterior motive in my attempt to ‘deceive’ Tom? No, but I have a very clear motive in seeking to resist explanations of ‘our’ short-term economic problems based on spurious attempts to blame people who quite clearly were not responsible for causing them. And that does not just include Britain’s immigrant populations, but all the many marginal groups in ‘our’ society. Those people did not cause the problems of the Coalition’s ‘broken Britain’, but it is they who will bear the brunt of the cuts in services, the unemployment, the downward pressure on wages and the casualisation of the workforce that will follow ‘our’ failure to deal with the gross inequalities of British society.

    That is not about immigration, it is about privilege and those who would protect it.

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    Tom Reply:

    I’ll grant you that immigration is very much a side-show to our current troubles.

    However, if people’s complaints on one subject are ignored with such prejudice and so little respect for “known facts”, it’s bound to have a deleterious effect on everyone’s mood and their willingness to make sacrifices for the good of the rest of their society.

    And I’m still nowhere nearer understanding the meaning of “we are an immigrant society”.

    Chris Williams Reply:

    I have some sympathy for Tom’s statement. The original problem was not immigration but invasion. Vikings, Danes and, worst of all, Normans. The Normans are the reason we are not a cohesive society. They took all the land and therefore the wealth. So we are not so much an immigrant society as an invaded one. Tom might say that immigration is the modern invasion, but don’t let me put words into his posts.

    Then there are the modern Normans: Lamont, Tebbit et al who have contributed to the increase in inequality. Although, to be fair to Norman Lamont he mostly gave the 7 Billion he lost of our money to foreigners.

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    Tom Reply:

    Since I wrote the above, I’ve discovered that Mark Thomas’s work disputes some of Oppenheimer’s, claiming that the English are indeed invaders of the last 1500 years and that they left a major, even overwhelming, mark in the DNA. Some of the illustrated information is at http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,768706-2,00.html – though I can’t explain why Thomas (who may be more highly qualified than Oppenheimer) is writing in a German publication unless the Germans are much keener to read about this than we are for some reason.

    However, Mark Thomas’s work does not make us a nation of consensual immigrants in any way. In fact, what he believes will stand as a stark warning against allowing mass-immigration. Just 200,000 Saxons did all of that, anything approaching a takeover is extremely bad news!

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    LXmoderator Reply:

    Thanks for the update, Tom. Much appreciated.

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    Chris Williams Reply:

    It’s an interesting article. If it is correct then an influx of about 12 million people from the same part of the world today would result in every other man in Britain having their genetic marker in 1500 years time. What we actually have is about 3 million people from every part of the world so their genetic impact will be smaller and more diverse. Their cultural impact is another matter.
    To estimate that we would need to research the impact that the remaining Celts, Gaels, Scots, etc. have had on the dominating invaders. This may be more difficult to assess as there are a lack of distinct cultural markers. If songs in Hindi or Urdu prevail any time in the future then these will be distinct cultural markers that can be measured. The consumption of Indian food as a single cultural marker would show that the invasion of people from the Indian subcontinent has been on a scale to match the Anglo Saxons 1500 years ago, which is not the case. I’m not going to give up Polish sausage just because I fear it is a marker for Polish cultural assimilation.

    If we are concerned about large scale immigration, we need to focus on what those concerns are and address them directly. We need young people to support our old age but we do not produce sufficient children. We have a housing and infrastructure problem because we have a large number of people on a small island and that number is growing more rapidly than by natural means because of immigration. We want to grow our economy but less than a third of workers work in product design and manufacturing. There is no single response that fulfils all our needs and desires.

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  4. Les Kipper
    Posted 15/03/2011 at 09:28 | Permalink

    Broken, yes. But not for the reasons stated. The vast inequity between the richest and poorest, those with influence and those with none has created a fissure that has split Britain in two.

    The rich and powerful have ‘opted out’ of the nation state in ever way that is meaningful: taxation, public services, observance of the law and the mores that hold society together. Yet they control the prosperity of the majority and have becoming purely parasitic.

    Meanwhile the rest are co-opted in but with none of the benefits enjoyed by those that rule. This end to the social contract between the top and bottom of society can only end one way: The end of the break up of civil society and violent unrest.

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    James Paton Reply:

    Very SWP!You don’t seem to understand that the floating voter middle Engalnd middle class are much more resilient and donlt givea shit about high unemployment, homelessness and general poverty, because they remain on the ‘happy’ side of the economic equation and may only have to forego a holiday or two a year.

    Were you around in the early eighties? 5 million unemployed in a nation of 70 million is still a minority, a big minority nonetheless. But guess what the poor and economically disenfranchised don’t vote. Grow up!

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    Richard Hagan Reply:

    You are too harsh on Les. There is some truth to the statement that the rich have withdrawn from society in comparison with previous generations. You are also too hard on the middle classes, many of whom care about social cohesion. Since Britain obtained full adult enfranchisement in 1930, it has had only two democratically elected governments: 1931 and 2010. In the majority of General Elections around 70% of the votes cast had no effect on the outcome, they did not elect an MP or determine which party became the next Government. So the problem is that about 110,000 people can determine which party forms the next government and not whether or not those people have a sense of social responsibility or any other attributes.

    We all need to grow up and accept that we need the UK government to be elected by more people than contribute to the average opinion poll. Our refusal to address this problem reflects our unwillingness to accept responsibility for determining the course of national progress. This is mainly an English trait. The other counties in the union have embraced democracy and benefited from it in their national governments.

    Perhaps the original question should be changed to is England broken or is it just the electoral system.

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    LXmoderator Reply:

    Any thoughts on the political aspect to the issue that Richard suggests? Is it the electorial system that is broken and if so is that the catalyst for the socio-economic issues discussed in this thread? The Moderator.

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    Chris Williams Reply:

    I can remember thinking at the time of the Brixton and Toxteth riots in the early 1980s that it is always cheaper to live in a democracy. They don’t have riots in Switzerland. Margret Thatcher’s government poured large amounts of money into both areas and took the Police, particulary the Met., back under control. But millions of pounds of damage had been done to get her attention. In a democracy like Switzerland the local and national governments would have been forced to have a referendum to determine if more money should have been invested in the area to overcome the social issues and the discrimination displayed by the police. A riot would not be necessary to get it’s attention.

    The latest riots were less to do being ignored but it is clear that perpetrators do not consider themselves part of mainstream society. They probably would not participate even if they lived in a democracy but unless they are given the opportunity we will never know.

    Britain may never become a Swiss style democracy but, as a minimum, the UK should have a proportional electoral system as do 3 out of 4 of the countries that make up the less than united kingdom.

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  5. Posted 14/03/2011 at 20:25 | Permalink

    Economically things began to breakdown rapidly once full employment and Okuns law whereby wages increased in line with labour productivity were abandoned.

    This was exacerbated by the top siphoning off vastly increased wages and lower tax rates.

    There are some interesting international examples given in the link below, the best that can be said is at least we aren’t be done as badly as the Australians!

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=13193

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    sean bradley Reply:

    What do you mean by “…once full employment and Okuns law whereby wages increased in line with labour productivity were abandoned”? and “…we aren’t be done as badly as the Australians!”
    This makes no sense to me at all.
    I would like to understand.
    What are you saying?

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  6. Posted 12/03/2011 at 23:20 | Permalink

    Well, it has a nice tabloid ring to it, doesn’t it, but the phrase means nothing really. Let’s just get on with things.

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  7. recherche
    Posted 12/03/2011 at 22:01 | Permalink

    ‘Broken’ well I don’t know what that means. But I hate the country even though born in London. Looking for somewhere else to die.

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  8. blazeddon
    Posted 12/03/2011 at 03:18 | Permalink

    Hmmmm… nah its not exactly broken

    Then they try to dumb down society by keeping us ignorant with their bullshit indepth news, they are always watching us digitally and physically true say its not just the uk most the first world countries are like this.
    The whole world is headed this way anyway though thats what worries me, this is some mental imperalism! Real power is in the hands of the people, they just gotta open their eyes, free their minds and decide what kind of life they want to lead. This capitalistic society only benefits the few at the top. Its like a pyramid we are holding those tossers up, unless people realise this nothing will change and people will continue to worship money and live blindly NOTHING WILL CHANGE. Its not all about money money money, thats why there is a difference btwn a broke society and a broken society.

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  9. Dom
    Posted 11/03/2011 at 00:32 | Permalink

    Broken?

    -Whatever that means-but it is- crass, tacky,still parochial, profoundly misogynistic, amazingly expensive,inefficent ,greedy and frankly smug and self satisfied about its image.

    See the British overseas amongst almost any other culture, and it is deeply embarassing and an exercise in humiliation.

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    James Paton Reply:

    Having spent 6 years in France – Strasbourg – I confirm what you say, but even within the so called educated(?) ex-pat community, many, not quiet all, English, conformed to your generally accurate stereotype.
    Our onward drive over the past 40 years toward a more individualistic, rather than communal, way of life, inspired by our siding with the USA rather than Europe, is to my mind the significant deteminant of our brokeness. Surely a no more broken society(?) in the world than the USA – see education, healthcare, debt, homelessness, war-mongering all under the pretence of being a democracy – 80% only registerd to vote and only 58% turnout and of those Obama’s so called historic (hyped) victory only securing 53% of the vote i.e. only 41% of those who could have voted

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  10. Bill Clarke
    Posted 10/03/2011 at 10:10 | Permalink

    Dr. Cameron is right when he says “Britain is not ‘broken,’ but many of its ordinary citizens are ‘broke’. This is because a system intended to stimulate ‘our’ economy, is being used by a privileged minority to escape our society altogether. We need to fix that”.

    Let us be more specific about “a system intended to stimulate ‘our’ economy”. I take it that this means the banking and financial industries that are supposed to invest in the economy. Unfortunately for the rest of us these industries only function in order to make profit.

    Let’s take banking as an example. Because they have the right to create our national currency by granting credit (digital money)to borrowers, they decide whether or not the economy prospers or stagnates or even shrinks. At the moment, in the crisis they created, it is not profitable to invest so the economy shrinks.

    As Dr.Cameron says, this needs to be fixed. How? By taking away from them the right to create our legal tender as debt. Banks should go back to their original function of being brokers between lenders (savers) and borrowers. This can only be done if the fractional reserve system is replaced by a full-reserve one. This means that current accounts cannot be used as a reserve for creating new money. That will mean that banks will only be able to lend money that they have by people investing with them of from borrowing.

    Who will then create our national currency, the money society needs? Society will, and should, create it through the state, not as debt but as investment into the economy as and when new money is needed.

    For those who fear this will cause inflation (because politicians cannot be trusted to act responsibly) may rest assured that their fears can be allayed by a public, accountable, transparent, independent authority that will be given this task and scrutinized to ensure they do not create too much money, or too little.

    It doesn’t make sense that a country’s money as debt is created by private banks, for them to make profit, when the state state can do it without debt. Imagine the benefits that government departments and local authorities (and so all of us) would enjoy if they had access to deb-free money to spend.

    The sooner the better.

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  11. Posted 10/03/2011 at 08:06 | Permalink

    not only britain is broken , the world is now spinning into hell? as mankind ignores god , they do so at there pearl? surly most good people see what is happening especialy in the uk now being run from brussels , with our puppet david cameron lying his way into the nwo eu satanic program, with there intention to be masters of us all, through there anti-christ micro chip policy , the sooner we leave the eu house of bal goverment the better, i have passed on 50,000 uk column news papers all over scotland , were the people are now responding like what is happening in liverpool against our crooked legal judges etc , this will now spread fast through out th uk? the TRUTH IS NOW OUT REGARDING COMMON PURPOSE AND ITS SATANIC EVILS? GOD SPEED THE TRUTH?

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    James Paton Reply:

    PPGC – You clearly have no idea whatsoever of how the EU is constituted and the role national governments play in creating/nominating the EU Commissioners and creating the EU treaties (not the Commission/Brussels) to then scapegoat the very institutions they created for their own domestic political ends.

    The main problem with the EU is that the democratically elected body – the parliament – elected by proportional representation – has the least power in relation to the Council of Ministers(the treaty makers) and the Commission(the legislation initiaitors). Britains situation is entirely of its own making through an antiquated and corrupt political system, back by equally corrupt financiers.

    The EU has very little power over our lives in comparison with global corporate players and institutions such as the oil industry, arms industry, banks, NewsCorp(Murdoch)and Fox news specifically – the bastion of born-again evangelism synonymous with corrupt organised money grabbing religious practice across the USA. And by contrast very locally the supermarkets, insurance companies and global brands like Coca Cola, who do more damage to our lives and local communities by sucking money out of them and putting nothing back

    PS You mean ‘peril’, ‘surely’ and ‘especially’ I assume in your first two sentences.
    PPS God doesn’t vote

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    God Reply:

    Oh yes I do!

    No, really I do. Honest. I voted Libdem. I may be omnipotent but I’m not prescient. But that Nick Clegg will never get into heaven. Over my dead body!

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  12. jeanne kelly castillo
    Posted 07/03/2011 at 15:56 | Permalink

    Britain is not yet broken but it certainly will be if/when this administration has finished with it. It is all very well using the excuse that a coalition has to compromise but since a coalition was not expected, no “coalition” manifesto was put forward. I doubt many people knew what they would be getting when voting last May.

    I feel more of a fool than ever. As it is not in my nature to ever vote Tory and having been thoroughly betrayed by New Labour, I voted Lib. Dem thinking that they would be the party to do the least harm. Alas, my MP is now Zak Goldsmith, Tory boy in Green clothing.

    Since I have had time to reflect on my folly, I have decided that just because we have elections it doesn’t mean we have democracy. It becomes clearer by the day that our democracy began to be sold off to corporate interests about 30 years ago. This government intends to have a fire sale of anything that is left and that is why I believe that Britain will be broken in the next few years. By then it will feel broken.

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  13. James Paton
    Posted 07/03/2011 at 12:50 | Permalink

    Redundant by new Government policy in July, due to Labour’s shambolic regional policy compounded by Tory/Lib Dem funding cuts whilst they ironically state fund failed private banks(!), it’s clear that the state is financially broke, but many provate individuals are not – see footballer transfer fees. It’s the localtion, ownership and use of available money that is highly specific such that the ongoing poor become increasingly poor and the ‘new poor'(unemployed) scrabble to create businesses or find non-existent jobs in av ery cautious lower spending economy. The time lag between funding cut fuelled redundancies now and future private sector’new’ job creation, will take several year., Banks compound the delay by not lending or doing so at extortinate rates to small/new business. Strains will therefore inevitably appear as lives become ruined through unemployment and poverty. (See home repossession rates) We’ve been here before in the 1980’s, but council housing and IB shetlered some of the new poor then. Individuals and certain neighbourhoods will become broken or more broken. Will Big Society, Localism and the private sector save them or be willing to save them? Will the many care enough for the few? The real question is when, if at all, the unaffected middle and high income voters, who swing between Labour and Conservative, say that enough pain has been meted out on the poor – feckless or otherhwise.

    [Reply]

  14. Paul Matthews
    Posted 04/03/2011 at 14:23 | Permalink

    The British public never cease to amaze me. Class division has been in this country for hundreds of years, and that will never change, But why is it whenever we run into trouble, it’s always somebody else’s fault ? The current trend to bash the bankers is a prime example. Bankers have always been paid huge bonuses it’s nothing new. It’s all very well people moaning about being in debt, but at the end of the day it’s down to our own personal choices. We don’t have to have credit cards and mortgages, nobody’s forcing people to do it, we need to stop blaming everyone else and take responsibility for our actions. Nobody moaned in the nineties when people were taking out huge mortgages, loans, credit cards etc.

    [Reply]

    Bill Clarke Reply:

    Whether one thinks Britain is broken or not depends on whether one is a redundant, unemployed person who has had his/her home repossessed or a well paid professional.

    Trying to be objective and impersonal and viewing the financial and economic position Britain is in, it can be concluded that, if Britain is not broken, we are breaking apart so far as the rich and the poor are concerned.

    This has been brought about because of the steady transfer of wealth from the population as a whole to the few rich and powerful in the financial and banking industries.

    In turn, this is because of the way our money and banking system works. It is not generally known that 97% of all money only exists because someone has borrowed it from a bank as a debt on which interest is charged. Hence the huge profits made by banks.

    To stop Britain being more broken, the link between banks being brokers between lenders and borrowers and the creation of our legal tender as debt needs to be broken.

    [Reply]

    James Paton Reply:

    Thank you Bill, spot on.
    James

    [Reply]

    Raffles Reply:

    Here is the answer….. just follow all the links.

    http://www.onegoodcut.org

    On the 4th March Positivemoney.org.uk were invited to a round table discussion at Oxford University…. present were reps from the Bank of England, the gov’t (I think) and Angela Knight, who is the public face of the Banking Association.

    It was a very lively time as you can well imagine because Pos/Money were introducing the proposed new amendments to the 1844 Bank Act (Peel’s Act) that would stop the banks in their tracks.

    Take a look here… http://www.onegoodcut.org

    [Reply]

    Bill Clarke Reply:

    Hi James

    It really is time the banks were radically reformed, not tinkered with. Their friends in the government will only pretend to be doing something to reform them but unless we can build a grass roots movement of protest strong enough to influence them more than the banks, nothing is going to change.

    Such a movement is now gathering strength because of the campaign by

    Have you visited their website? It’s an eye opener.

    Bill

    [Reply]

    Bill Clarke Reply:

    Sorry James; the moderator deleted the URL of Positive Money but you can find it by a Google search or I can send it to you if you will send me your email address.

    Why shouldn’t subscribers to this blog exchange URLs?

    [Reply]

    LXmoderator Reply:

    Bill/James:

    There’s no problem exchanging URLs on the site. I haven’t deleted the URL, the post is automatically sent to pending as it contains links, and sometimes this causes a delay, but hopefully it should be sorted out now. Apologies for any inconvenience.
    Thanks for your continued support of the site.

    LXmoderator Reply:

    Bill:
    Your post has made it.. complete with URL. Happy viewing, James

    [Reply]

    James Paton Reply:

    Thank you very much.

    James Paton Reply:

    Hi Bill, have done and signed-up. have you signe-up to Robin Hood Tax also. Bill Nighy gave it excellnet coverage last week on BBC.

    Best regards

    James

    [Reply]

    Bill Clarke Reply:

    Hi James,

    Good news that you have signed up. This shows that campaigning on the internet does have results (even if most people just seem to ignore the arguments in favour of reforming the money and banking system. I wonder why).

    I strongly believe in the Robin Hood Tax and will join up straight away.

    Goodluck,

    Bill

  15. Posted 02/03/2011 at 17:12 | Permalink

    To answer the main question, first you must qualify exactly what is meant by the term “Broken”. if your a new labour supporter, then of course society is broken, the mere fact that the tories hold office, that reaction is inevitable. yet for the ordinary dissenfranchised voter….no matter how you dress it up in eloquent statements about hankering for the past….Britain in their eyes is in a worse state than it’s ever been.

    maybe before we all start writing blogs and forming high browed opinions, maybe we should all take a step back and do the one thing our MP’s have no interest in doing….listening to the electorate who elected them.

    what our politicians fail to understand is that for the ordinary voter, we don’t need a degree in economics or politics to see the effects of 13 years of the loony lefts wet dream of multiculturalism or Cameron’s inability to deal with the city. the things that sticks in most voters throat and makes them assume that britain is Broken are these.

    The country is as good as bankrupt thanks to labours financial incompetance and inability to regulate the city. we’ve had enough of new labours lies and spin, where they made native born british feel like second class citizens compared to asylum seekers and immigrants.

    Statistics tell us that crime might be falling but so are criminals sentences. the fact that prison is now a holiday camp that alone sticks in most peoples throats, obviously we feel agrieved that most of us work hard and pay taxes while criminals get everything that’s going.

    our companies are making excessive profits and paying fat cat directors obscene amounts of money for doing nothing, while the employees slog their guts out for minimum wage, the city helped create the financial meltdown and subsequent recession, yet after numerous promises and lies from each political party leader, we’re still seeing fat cat pay outs even after the company has made a loss.

    we’ve had the MP’s expenses fiasco, as it stands out of all the corrupt MP’s who have diddled their expenses claims, only three have been prosecuted. our societies value’s are crumbling, where free market greed is the driving force within society.

    But worst of all, how long have our politicians promised the electorate a referendum on europe, we currently pay about 40 million a day to prop up the wet dream of a superstate while our MP’s devolve more of our powers to Brussels.

    What Germany couldn’t do in the 40’s, our own politicians are doing now, allowing another country to dictate to us.

    Are you really surprised that the british voters are dissilusioned, successive governments have failed to bring in legislation to improve our society, yet what i find the greatest laugh of all is our educated masses all fail to spot the elephant that is clearly in the room.

    I don’t need an education in politics to understand why current polls are giving us the same information repeatedly. maybe in time one of our honourable education establishments might do a degree in common sense, as things stand….very few of our politicians would pass the first year and some notable bloggers wouldn’t even get an interview.

    [Reply]

    Paul Reply:

    Brilliant comment. fully agree with you. When we have terrorists being paid millions pounds of tax payer’s money . All because we were aware that the ( U S A ) were torturing them . Doh!!! So did the rest of the (WORLD) . we need an Accountability committee to over see government .( SPENDING),

    [Reply]

  16. Rebecca J
    Posted 02/03/2011 at 12:41 | Permalink

    Britain isn’t broken. I’m fed up with reading the right wing press (and almost as many on the left) saying it is. Living standards are high in Britain. I don’t understand this need to feel collectively miserable and blame young people in particular for where we are.

    [Reply]

    allan Reply:

    Britain will shortly be broke with all the social welfare benefits being dished out to none contributing European immigrants crowding our small island to bleed us dry, fill our hospitals, prisons, social housing, schools and all without contributing to our ever decreasing pot.
    Lets get real we cannot afford to carry on like this, don`t get me wrong I am not racist, however we are a total soft touch, HELLO! someone needs to wake up as it may already be too late.

    [Reply]

    Bob Reply:

    I agree on your comments entirely, it’s about time to stop all this nonsense. The times of massive foreign aid to countries like India and Pakistan whose economy is stronger than ours has to stop.
    The rules sent from the EU on high are untenable for this country of ours may the influx of eastern europeans, who by thier own omissions have courses on how to milk our system, has to stop.
    This is Britain not Poland,Rumania,or any of the Balkan states, If they cannot work for any reason send them home, why do we pay thier families back home child benifit THEY DO NOT LIVE HERE.
    WHY!!! on earth are we still doing all this the country is SKINT It is too late

    [Reply]

    James T Reply:

    What complete nonsense. Have you ever visited India or Pakistan and seen the poverty? Britain is a strong and prosperous country and it is right that some of GDP goes to addressing development issues elsewhere in the world.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    India has a space program (more than we’ve got) and Pakistan is a major nuclear power.

    Trying to relieve the massive destitution in those countries probably does make friends – but it simply makes the problem of poverty there worse, excusing those countries their own neglect.

    [Reply]

    James T Reply:

    Tom, I wouldn’t disagree with some of this (apart from the “aid makes poverty worse” line). But the idea somehow that immigration and international development are the cause of any perceived ills in Britain is patent nonsense. Angus key point, seems to be that it’s wrong to blame the weakest and most marginalised for “breaking Britain”. The argument that it’s all about immigrants is as simplistic and incorrect as the left’s argument that it’s all down to a conspiracy of evil capitalists.

    James Paton Reply:

    Bob and James T in particular

    See The Spirit Level

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11518509

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level:_Why_More_Equal_Societies_Almost_Always_Do_Better

    to dis-abuse yourself that despite relative poverty between countries, the dispariies within countries is also very significant, particularly in USA, (land of opportunity???) UK, Australia and Singapore compared in the research for example to Japan (pre-quake and tsunami) and the Scandanavian countries.

    You miss or underestimtae the unhappiness and actual physiological as well as mental health impacts caused to so many people in so called wealthy material ‘first world’ countires by daily (Murdoch and Sky) being told that they can have a life that financially they blatanly cannot.

    Similarly disparities between nations and regions in a global trading environment means that we should not ignore the poorest 20% ina gloabl context. That is why aid, and not trade alone (non-fair trade) has not produced better outocmes for the poorest 20% ANYWHERE ON THE GLOBE.

    Fair trade, in the same way for the material lifestyles we have we exploit cheap materials and labour in other countries so supermarkets exploit us by sucking money out of our local communities to feed banks and investmnet bankers, rediculous pensions and greedy narrow minded often tax dodging shareholders who are living off the ‘interest’ gained on the backs of the poor.

    [Reply]

  17. Colin Hall
    Posted 26/02/2011 at 21:40 | Permalink

    In a nutshell, Britain is not broke but it`s heading that way. It`s only out of balance.

    The balance problems are two fold, the distribution of wealth and the highly efficient way the world makes goods.

    There should be a formula for the generation of wealth whereby you can only earn a certain amount of money which is proportionally linked to the number of people you employ or utilise, and

    In terms of employment, the world is producing what it needs with a minimal amount of labour due to the ever increasing speed of automatic production, hense mass unemployment. If the former idea was utilised it may solve this problem as unemployment and poverty is the major cause of the downward British spiral and believe me i live in a very deprived, poor and impoverished region of the UK and i see it every day

    Colin

    [Reply]

    Angus Cameron Reply:

    Colin

    An interesting idea, but it presupposes that we have a very high degree of regulatory control over the ‘wealth generators’. Currently we don’t have that control and what little we have we (our governments, that is), don’t use. Any suggestion that we impose much tighter restrictions on the banks, for example, is routinely countered with the argument that they would simply relocate abroad (read offshore) if we did. And successive governments have always backed down in the face of this not-very-subtle bit of economic blackmail. The argument is that if the banks went elsewhere, the vast flow of money that currently runs through the City institutions every day (with all the employment that goes with it) would be lost elsewhere and the cost to the national economy would exceed any temporary fiscal gain. Hence the coalition’s entirely supine response to the current bonus round.
    I am not very convinced that a tighter regulatory environment would lead to the wholesale relocation of the banks – the City is more than just a few tax-light banks. A lot of hedge funds have gone to Switzerland since the crash, but they were all registered offshore already and, frankly, I do not see them as much of a loss. I wonder whether our governments have actually carried out any analysis of the effect of tighter regulation on the City (I’m not aware of any), or are simply backing down without a fight in the face of some rather lame threats? Time to call the banks’ bluff, perhaps?

    [Reply]

    Chris Williams Reply:

    I believe the banks would not relocate and there is a simple way to test them:a variable transaction tax on non retail bank transactions. Transactions likely to damage our economy (betting against the pound) would attract a high transaction tax; investing in British industry a low one. If a bank objects and desires to leave then we should confiscate their UK assets ( may as well – they won’t becoming back) on the grounds that they belong to the people of the UK as they we made with their labour.
    Of course, if we got a bit windy about them going we could just reduce the rate until they agreed to stay.

    [Reply]

    Bill Clarke Reply:

    It certainly is time that the government calls the bluff of the banks to relocate overseas if they are regulated more effectively, as suggested by Dr Cameron.

    If they went, who would create the money, the legal tender we all need, instead of the banks, who do it now every time they grant a loan to a borrower?

    This debt money, created by banks to make profit for themselves, would be replaced by debt-free money created by the government to fund its services by granting it to government departments and local authorities to spend.

    What a good idea.

    [Reply]

  18. seanie
    Posted 26/02/2011 at 17:24 | Permalink

    Britain is far from being ‘broken’. One has only to see the variety of life that progress doggedly onwards, all the time thinking something along the lines of “We’ll get on with it!” mentality. This is not a ‘Dunkirk’ spirit by any measure, but given that our so called leaders are completely feckless, clay – footed and disengenious, it is my opinion that we are all ‘students’ now! We cannot afford to get a mortgage, (some/most) pensions have long ago disappeared and we are forced to pay V.A.T at an excorbitant rate on most things. But what do we do? Nothing at all!
    The so called ‘student riots’ should be a taster of things to come, but I suspect that we will roll over and take what is coming to us? My arse!

    [Reply]

    Angus Cameron Reply:

    Indeed, feistily put. But this begs the question of why ‘we’ don’t seem to do much. Or, perhaps, why we haven’t done much yet. One possibility is that the students are resisting becoming ‘financialised’ – drawn into a system based on debt and therefore dominated by the fear of default and its consequences. Most of the rest of us are already heavily financialised (mortgages, loans, credit cards and the rest) – Britain has one of the highest levels of consumer and property-based personal debt in the world. Not surprisingly, this makes us feel extremely vulnerable and my guess is this makes us far more reluctant to participate in the sort of collective direct action Seanie proposes. Thatcher’s ‘property-owning democracy’ was never about ’empowerment’. It was about the self-regulating effect of wealth postponed – our houses are our pensions and we’re not going to kick off any riots anywhere near them.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    All our arses, in fact.

    [Reply]

  19. A Vaines
    Posted 26/02/2011 at 13:08 | Permalink

    There is definitely something wrong in parts of Britain. Communities are weak and people are less optimistic about the future than in 1997. A pretty sorry state after 15 years of record spending and public debt.

    [Reply]

    sean bradley Reply:

    please explain what you mean by “Communities”
    and how are they “weak”? this is meaningless to me.
    in my life there are no “Communities” that i can perceive.
    there are consumers (= individuals) and there are exploiters
    (= capitalists) and there are politicians (=individual careerists)
    who are in the pay of capitalists to exploit individuals.
    come back

    [Reply]

  20. Chris J
    Posted 25/02/2011 at 17:20 | Permalink

    I’d agree with this and with David Harvie’s blog on well-being.

    It’s really troubling that people see themselves as less happy than previous generations. Despite higher living standards, better health care etc. And take a topic like crime. Crime is falling all the statistics tell us yet if you listened to David Cameron you’d think modern Britain was akin to something out of The Wire.

    I just don’t understand this self-indulgent national flagellation that we put ourselves through. Sure, today’s Britain is not perfect, but we don’t send children to work down mines anymore and we’re not like North Korea. So perhaps we need to collectively get a grip.

    [Reply]

    J B Blackett Reply:

    Sometimes I’m Happy
    Sometimes I’m Blue
    My disposition
    Depends on YOU.
    .
    And it is impossible to consistently ‘happy’ (unless you are constantly on drugs or are otherwise unhinged ( eg a barmy Religious nut case)
    .
    One has to be a bit unhappy relatively to the ‘happy’ state , otherwise everything would be on the same level and would, without the contrast , become mundane and boring and eventually make you feel ‘unhappy’.
    .
    Appreciate the ups and downs of life and ignore the idiots who keep asking you ‘Are You Happy ?’ Daft question. Response to the questioner should be ‘You Can Not Be Serious !’ ( delivered in a sort of shouty voice ).
    Regards and keep smiling.

    [Reply]

  21. Posted 21/02/2011 at 16:36 | Permalink

    Britain is not broken at least it wasn’t until May 6th 2010. What does Cameron actually mean by “Broken Britain?” Who and what is broken? Just like Cameron’s “big society” his “broken Britain” does not really exist, it is a figment of his elitist imagination. It seems to me King Cameron the Arrogant makes it up as he goes along, someone has come up with these two slogans, he thought they were catchy so he has set about making the country try and fit them, they simply do not exist, just like his “hoodie hugging” it is all political flim-flam. However, what is alarming is that Cameron is willing to risk harm being done to the reputation of this country abroad and to the very fabric of our society simply to gain votes from certain sections of society.
    He talks about lawlessness, and promptly slashes the budgets of police forces across the country, if Britain was broken in this respect, losing police officers and police support officers from the beat is hardly going to rectify crimes. Cutting benefits from already poor people so they have no money to care for themselves is just going to push people into crime. Cutting housing benefits from poor people is going to result in homelessness and cardboard city ghettos, where crime will also rise.
    Sending out the message to would be petty criminals that if they commit a crime then they will not be punished is hardly going to mend and fracture that Cameron sees is it?
    Up until May 6th 2010 we had a reasonably well functioning imperfect country. Most people did not fall through the net, the NHS had improved beyond all recognition from the parlous state is was in pre 1997, education and school buildings were improving, and unemployment was starting to decrease again despite the horrendous * global* economic crisis. Yes we had people claiming unemployment benefit that were able to work, yes there are welfare cheats, but this again was taken by Cameron and used completely and deliberately out of context, for short term political gain Cameron deliberately set out to pit person against person just so Cameron could gain political mileage out of it. Few people realise that fraudulent welfare claims fell by half under Labour and they were quietly and efficiently going about the task of reducing benefit fraud. They did not feel the need to scare innocent genuine claimants half to death by making them feel like something unpleasant to be scraped off of the bottoms of more able people’s shoes.
    Pre may 2010, we had a country that actually cared for its citizens and you can tell what kind of place a country is by how it treats its poor and those in need of help. There was nothing broken about the country, it was a country to be proud of in many respects, yet this Tory government, are taking this and turning it into something to be ashamed of, since when is caring about what happens to our people something to be sneered at? Yet this is the kind of country that Cameron is now nurturing, so where we were not broken, the cracks are certainly appearing now.
    We are being governed by a feckless lot of elitist buffoons and the only people who will pay for this and pay dearly – is us!

    [Reply]

    Angus Cameron Reply:

    Much as I agree that the coalition’s approach is profoundly contradictory and potentially damaging – the sorts of issues we’re talking about here long predate the May 6th elections. Although the tone is somewhat different, the ‘broken Britain’ rhetoric is not so different from the ‘social exclusion’ rhetoric of New Labour. When it first appeared in political statements in 1997 social exclusion was hailed as a better and more sensitive way of describing the complex and dynamic _processes_ through which particular communities became multiply marginalised. Very soon, however, it became a category of existence out of which people had to be helped (at first) and then increasingly, forced. New Labour’s social exclusion agenda – linked to a very strange notion of communitarianism – rapidly made the socially excluded responsible for resolving problems (unemployment, poverty, poor housing, poor education, etc.) they played little or no part in creating. The language and the economic context may now be different, but the effects on Britain’s marginal communities is much the same.

    [Reply]

    Jenny Reply:

    Hi Angus

    Whilst I agree with much of your blog I have to disagree with you Labour’s social exclusion agenda was akin to Cameron’s “broken Britain” rhetoric. Initiatives like the New Deal for Communities set out to empower local communities to take control over issues that affected them -and unlike the Big Society it wasn’t based on a middle-class view of “do-gooding” and was properly resourced.

    Britain in 2010 was a much fairer society than in 1997 with stronger public services and higher living standards. The Coalition’s cuts will take us back a decade.

    [Reply]

    Angus Cameron Reply:

    @ Jenny

    I should stress that my comments about the social exclusion agenda were aimed more as the political rhetoric coming out of Westminster than community-based projects under NDC or other government programmes. That said, I did a lot of research on those projects in the late 1990s, and only a minority were in any meaningful sense ’empowering’. Many lasted only as long as the funding, many relied on the expertise of professionals who then moved on some were distinctly cynical and/or corrupt. This should not of course decry the many inspirational projects that were created in the 1990s, but nor should we see it through rose tinted spectacles.

    [Reply]

    sean bradley Reply:

    please explain what you mean by “communities”
    in my life there are no “communities” that i can perceive.

    [Reply]

    sean bradley Reply:

    please explain what you mean by “communities”

    [Reply]

    sean bradley Reply:

    please explain how “communities” (whatever they are) become “multiply marginalised” ( whatever that means)

    [Reply]

    Ziv Reply:

    I concur wholeheartedly. Moreover, I would like to see the bashing of immigrants by bigots like ‘the voice of reason’–stopped. No country ever ignores its ‘native’ population in favour of immigrants. ‘Native’ residents have always complained about immigrants. Queen Elizabeth complained that there were too many Africans in London. Mind you, that was Elizabeth the First, complaining in the 1600s.

    My parents are immigrants. My dad was a nurse, looking after ‘native’ British people. My mum cleaned ‘their’ buildings. They paid their taxes. They couldn’t get back ‘to where they belong’ because it is so hard to live in Britain. But they made moderate successes of their lives.

    I wonder what ‘the voice of reason’ will do when he/she is old and infirm and being looked after by immigrant doctors, nurses and careworkers?

    [Reply]

    J B Blackett Reply:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to argue that the ‘bashing of immigrants’ (your words ) are counterbalanced by the bashing of what you chose to call ‘natives’.
    .
    Are we not all citizens and each deserve mutual respect at the individual level.
    .
    What you are doing is creating more communal division by the sneering use of putting things in quotes. Not very nice , in my humble opinion. We are all ( and I mean all ) in this together – with the exception of very greedy bankers and politicians who thrive on division.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    Nice one. I always enjoy reading what I think written by people who say it better!

    [Reply]

    Jane Eggleton Reply:

    Some people may be fit and willing to work but there may be so many barriers to getting work and getting to work that they eventually give up. As an example: In 2003 there lived a family that consisted of father, mother and 3 children aged under 5. In mid 2009 the father was made redundant, by early 2010 the mother was made redundant from her evening job. They claimed benefits, desperately tried to contain their escalating mountain of unpaid bills, had their car repossessed by mid 2010 and their house repossessed in late 2010. They found a privately rented house in a different area, they had to change the children’ schools, and still could not find work. They began to argue, he began to stay out of the house and eventually left the marital home to live with a friend who was divorced. She eventually found a full time job but could not take it up because the work began at 6am and not only was public transport to the out of town industrial area unreliable, she also could not find anyone willing to look after her children at 5.30am. And even if she had of found childcare, she did not have the funds to pay the holding fee and month payment in advance. In fact, she could not afford the bus fare to the job anyway. She has now given up. In less than 2 years she has lost her job, her home and the money she put into it, the ability and money to be able to choose to live near her family and close friends, her car, her husband, her security of being a family unit, her self respect and her sanity. So can somebody explain to me – why as a nation are we are allowing Bankers and other fat-cat-bosses to earn in excess of £1m yet an ordinary law abiding, hard working family is left to struggle and finally fall apart? That £1m paid to one fat cat equates to the income for 40 families living on £25,000 for a year. Britain is not quite broken …………. but it is breaking.

    [Reply]

    T O Young Reply:

    I am realy touched by your explanation of a broken Briton.I do think that we are being tramped upon so much that we are loosing our self image identity morals and so-on.So you see ,it’s a tiny majority are causing the nation to be in this state(broking).

    [Reply]

  22. Isobel Waby
    Posted 21/02/2011 at 15:48 | Permalink

    England is certainly Broken, being torn apart on a daily basis, the demolition squad moved in last May and now those who made donations for Contracts will be moving in with the bulldozers to salvage what is left, recycle then use tax payers money to line their back pockets…… One would question the legality of the wholesale destruction by the Dictators now in Situ in No 10…….. Those who make huge donations to the Tories expect profits for doing so…… they are being paid handsomely, at the cost of the real British People.

    [Reply]

    Thomas Jefferson Reply:

    Oh please, come on. One might not agree with every policy of the current administration but “wholesale destruction by dictators”?

    The bottom line is as a country we have a massive structural budget deficit. And this needs to be addressed else we risk a collapse in Sterling, spiralling inflation and a handout from the IMF.

    I’d acknowledge some cuts are counter-productive (abolition of EMAs being one). And some policies are simply not thought through (selling off of the Forestry Commision land). But the idea that we can survive this period without reducing public expenditure is not engaging with the reality of the economic position of the country.

    I think the blog piece makes some interesting comments about how politics and economics come together in a slightly distasteful way in the “broken Britain” rhetoric. So we shouldn’t scapegoat the poorest for the mess…. but that’s not a reason for not dealing with the huge fiscal deficit we face as a nation.

    [Reply]

  23. Alan Turner
    Posted 16/02/2011 at 17:13 | Permalink

    David Cameron has said that the Big Society is a model for “social recovery in broken Britain”

    You can listen to his speech here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12446259

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/emp/external/player.swf

    about 30 seconds in he begins to give a list of all the bits he thinks are broken and need “fixing”:

    broken families
    broken communities
    gangs
    people stuck on welfare
    public services that won’t work for us

    Interestingly, absent from his list of things responsible for breaking Britain are:

    tax exiles
    bank bonuses and casino banks
    charities going to the wall because of funding cuts
    16 year olds not staying on at College because of the axing of EMA

    [Reply]

    Angus Cameron Reply:

    Indeed, thanks for that. I was going to say ‘I told you so’, but thankfully Bob Diamond and Barclays got in first. What clearer demonstration could there be of the gross iniquities that our current inadequate regulation of the banks produces?

    [Reply]

  24. Posted 13/02/2011 at 12:59 | Permalink

    @ Jonny B

    At one level the phrase itself is no more than an effective bit of sloganeering, but it seems to have gained some currency (though possibly only in the press) because of that ‘nagging feeling’. I suppose what’s quite clever about it is that it appeals to nostalgia without being at all specific about what we’re nostalgic for. Presumably it alludes to some kind of ‘blitz spirit’ perhaps when we imagined that the ‘nation’ (which no-one can define) stood united? One immediate danger of this, particularly coupled with David Cameron’s recent declaration that multiculturalism has ‘failed,’ is that it plays to a nasty racist and xenophobic strand of British thought that seems to be quite close to the surface at the moment (hence the idiotic EDL).

    But this crude nationalism simply won’t work – we cannot hunker down behind the borders and fight off the enemy without, not least because in a world as interdependent as ours we wouldn’t survive very long. The government have been careful not to be too specific about what the unbroken Britain they want to create looks like. But unless something is done to correct the massive disparities between the rich and the poor in contemporary Britain – a culture of bullying privilege typified by the likes of Bullingdon Club – I cannot see it becoming less divided any time soon.

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  25. Jonny B
    Posted 13/02/2011 at 11:17 | Permalink

    Great post, Angus. There appears to be a tension between perception and reality. The evidence that Britain is broken is thin. Yet people appear to becoming more disillusioned. The Economist reports that when Labour came to power in 1997, 40% of the population thought the country was becoming a worse place to live in. By 2007 that had risen to 60%. A year into Gordon Brown’s spell as prime minister the malcontents numbered 71%.

    Do you agree with Ben Page, head of Ipsos-Mori, that the cries of ‘broken Britain’ are a surge of nostalgia for what are perceived to be the ‘good old days’? And are these views based more on sentimentality than reality?

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  26. Posted 12/02/2011 at 16:46 | Permalink

    @ Pete

    ‘Corporate citizens’ refers to the fact that private companies have what’s called ‘legal personality’. They are regarded, by the tax authorities and for other legal purposes as though they were individual citizens. For tax purposes this special class of citizens are treated differently to you or I in that they pay corporation tax rather than the graduated income tax that we do. In principle there is nothing wrong with this, but what has happened over many years is that the percentage burden of taxation from corporate citizens has fallen relative to that paid by the rest of us in income tax, national insurance and VAT. This is before we take into account the collosal levels of tax avoidance routinely practiced by private companies (as well as very wealthy individuals). This is bad here, but probably worse in the USA where in the late 1990s, at a time when profits were booming, something like two-thirds of US-registered corporations (i.e. not even the offshore ones) paid no tax at all to the IRS.
    We need tax and other incentives to encourage investment. That is obvious. But what is equally obvious is that the current system is being abused. The current government seems to be doing little or nothing to solve this problem – despite Vince Cable’s (in particular) very strong advocacy of such measures during the election campaign.

    [Reply]

    PeteV Reply:

    Thanks Angus. I think the point that the Broken Britain debate seems to be about finding someone to blame for “breaking” it… and we tend to try and hold those with the least power responsible is compelling and a cause for reflection.

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  27. PeteV
    Posted 11/02/2011 at 21:15 | Permalink

    Angus, watched your video, what do you mean by corporate citizens?

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  28. Left Wing Radical
    Posted 11/02/2011 at 21:06 | Permalink

    Yep. Britain’s Broken. And I blame David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

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  29. John Peterson
    Posted 04/02/2011 at 22:31 | Permalink

    “Britain is Broken” is the battle-cry of the Daily Mail reading ex-pat as they grumble from their French retreat. The fact they grumble even more about the depreciation of the Euro against Sterling seems to be lost on them.

    I think Angus is spot on. We might all have concerns about social and economic policy in Britain. But the rhetorical slogan “Broken Britain” implies blame, and as Angus says, that blame is directed at those with the least power to have cocked things up in the workplace.

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    John Doe Reply:

    The Labour Government left this country broke with just about the biggest budget deficit in Europe bar Greece: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=277

    We can fantasise that pursuing a few tax light corporations will make things better but it’s not the Daily Mail that got us into this mess. It was New Labour and their disregard for any sense of fiscal responsibility.

    [Reply]

    Angus Cameron Reply:

    Indeed it is not the Daily Mail that created the mess, but nor can can the blame entirely be laid at the door of New Labour (though goodness knows they played their part!). And John is right that getting corporations to pay their taxes will not be enough, though the several £billion it would yield would not hurt the Exchequer.
    The problems that underlie this debate are much greater and of much longer standing. At least since the 1970s (probably much earlier) we have been struggling with a fundamental contradiction between the way we imagine society (the ‘unbroken’ nation state) and the ways societies actually function (fragmented, porous, evolving). The ‘Broken Britain’ slogan is evidence of just how inadequate our political language is to describe (let alone fix) the society we inhabit. Simply invoking a ‘lost’ past (even if iit had ever existed) really will not address the issues of the day.

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    http://cameron-cloggysmoralcompass.blogspot.com/ Reply:

    I think you are becoming confused with “broken Britain” and being broke, the two perceptions are completely different.
    The Labour government did not leave this country broke, stop falling for right wing rhetoric, just like this country was never broken it was never broke either, it was not broke then and it is not broke now. You mention Greece, but this country could never be compared to Greece, for a start they are in the Euro zone and they have no control over their own interest rates. Greece was broke no one wanted to buy their debt and they had to be bailed out, the situation with the PIGS can not be compared to the UK, we were never in that kind of danger. Yet Cameron, Osborne and Clegg have made people like you think we were. Labour handed this country over to the Tories in *recovery*, economic growth was much stronger than expected, Government borrowing was down and unemployment was falling. Since the Tories have come in and their policies are only now taking effect, unemployment is rising, the claimant count is also rising, growth has been persistently downgraded and the economy contracted by 0.5% last month and government borrowing reached record numbers as a direct result of what this government have done.
    If you allow this government to mislead you about our economy and this government carry on, on the course it has set, then we are going to go into a double dip recession and the deficit will be increasing not decreasing and Osborne will introduce another round of austerity measures, which will again exacerbate the problem. (Just like Ireland)
    If the banks are allowed to continue in the current status quo, then with the trouble in Middle East and crude oil going out of control, we *WILL* see another banking crash, what then? Can’t blame that on labour!

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