Saturday, February 17, 2007

Reason #354 for never voting Conservative

The sight of the 'grassroots' at party conferences, I think you'll agree, is rarely an edifying spectacle.

Historically, both Labour and Conservatives have a habit of having at least Ten Minutes Hate directed to one of their favourite targets.

For the Labour party it used to be capitalists, whom they threatened to squeeze until the pips squeaked.

Obviously they don't do this anymore so fox hunters have had to do instead.

The Tories, on the other hand, used to do single-parents. Therefore, coming from the position of not really giving a shit about fox-hunting but having always hated the Tories for their vicious 'back-to-bascis' pogrom against single mothers, reason #354 for never voting Conservative is they, despite their best efforts to pretend otherwise, haven't changed.

We can see this in the response to the recent spate of shootings in London:
"[T]hose involved with gun crime tend to have grown up fatherless and in the absence of good male role models have gravitated towards gangs."
Chris Dillow points out that while it may be the case that children from single-parent families are more likely to commit gun crimes, overall the proportion committing such crimes is so small that it would be wrong to assume therefore that single-parenthood is a cause of gun crime.

He elaborates here, partly in response to Danny Finkelstein, on his reluctance to focus on single-parents:

"There's another reason why I don't want to focus upon single parents here. It's too easy an answer.
Economics tells us that people commit crime because the benefits exceed the costs. This suggests that a bigger cause of crime is the combination of the collapse in demand for unskilled work and the awful education of poorer kids - which make legitimate ways of earning money hard to find - and the high aspirations encouraged by capitalism and celebrity culture.
Insofar as it focuses upon single parents, the stupid party therefore acts like a bully, attacking the vulnerable whilst cringing towards power."

All I can say is yes and amen - and reinforce one of Chris's points with a piece of anecdotal evidence of my own. I have a class of seriously badly-behaved 4th year boys, most of whom are involved in 'gang culture'. One of the worst offenders is like this, I assume, not because his father is absent but present - and who just happens to be one of the Gorbals' most feared gangsters.

There's something else as well. Ross Clark attempts to dismiss any connection between gun-crime and the drugs trade:
"The evidence appears also to point against one argument favoured by middle-class drug users: that gun crime only happens because drugs laws keep prices artificially high, and that if recreational drugs were legalised, the market would collapse and the violence would subside. In fact, some of the criminals interviewed pointed to the falling price of drugs as a cause of the rise in gun crime: unable to afford their Nike trainers through peddling drugs alone, criminals have started robbing rival gangs."
There's a rather snide assumption that only the middle classes, and of these only those who are drugs consumers, that make the case against prohibition - but that's a trivial point. Instead, while it may be the case that this is the argument used, it isn't the one I would make. It may well be that a saturated market exacerbates gun violence but the problem stems from the fact that the product is illegal in the first place. Ending prohibition wouldn't eliminate the black market because this would cause the price to collapse - it would do this because we assume the rational consumer would choose to avoid purchasing an adulterated product from parts of our cities where the rule of law is a faint rumour if they had a safer product from a safer outlet as an alternative.


Amir said...


I think you're wrong. Children who grow up with both biological parents do better on a wide range of outcomes than children who grow up in a single-parent family. Teenagers with only one parent drink more, take more drugs, have sex at a younger age and are involved in more fights than those in two-parent families. In rough neighbourhoods, especially, single parents can be less emotionally supportive, have fewer rules, dispense harsher discipline (and are often more inconsistent in dispensing discipline), provide less supervision, and engage in more conflict with their children.

According to a report by the left-wing think tank IPPR, the breakdown of the traditional married family is at the root of this disturbed teenage behaviour. It said: “Changes to families, such as more parents working, and rising rates of divorce and single parenthood, have undermined the ability of families to effectively socialise young people.” Without strong families the development of conscience is stunted, private life is diminished, and the power of the state increased.


Shuggy said...

All this may or may not be true but this was about gun crime.

Renegade Eye said...

It is out of the vogue to attack single parents. It is too widespread, to make an issue out of it.

Mr Grumpy said...

I've posted a longish reaction to this here:

Shuggy said...

Right back atcha here

Gavin Ayling said...

Shuggy, you dismiss Amir's comment, but surely that's key. If people fail more often in a living situation that is positively encouraged by our taxation system, surely it is right to change it.

If, in some rare cases, that failure goes as far as gun crime then all the more depressing.

There cannot be anything wrong with removing encouragement to live apart?

uncle joe said...

the downsides of prohibition clearly outweigh the upsides.

Don said...

The idea that people choose to live apart because of tax breaks requires a little more than an assertion that it is 'positively encouraged'.

I have no idea how many single parent families there are because one partner has died, or because the relationship has become abusive, or because the dad was a feckless waster, but I would guess each of these categories far outweighs those who have worked out the tax situation.

Mr Grumpy said...

More from me:

Mr Grumpy said...

Here we go again:

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