Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 28 January 2010

I am glad to live in a tolerant society, but I wonder if we have become too tolerant? The awful case of the torture of two young children by two older boys who hail from a household of chaos in Doncaster is an extreme example of a worrying trend. The Prime Minister told me the other day, in answer to my question on early intervention, that there were 50,000 "households of chaos" in the UK. We have become too accepting of people who have children and then bring them up as feral cats.
Tolerance has become the British disease. We have no fault divorce; housing associations hopeless in dealing with neighbours from hell; and people who have moved to this country and then want to destroy our way of life.
I am encouraged by the thought that things can change. We used to accept increasingly foul language and behaviour on mainstream television but after the Jonathan Ross attack on poor Andrew Sachs, we seem to have pulled ourselves up from this slide into the gutter and set new standards. The offensive suggestion of the demonstration by Britain-haters in Wootton Basset resulted in that group being banned. Perhaps we are turning a corner.
I hope the tragic case of the tortured boys will shift us onto new territory with neglectful parents. We should not accept people who bring up their kids like this, irrespective of their own upbringing which doubtless was imperfect. I recall the police officer who told me when I was first elected that 5% of the population commit over 80% of the crime. These households of chaos produce the majority of our anti-social behaviour, welfare dependency and social misery. They are one of the primary causes of crime.
I sense we are at a crossroads in this country, both economically and socially. Just as we need to put in place a new economic model which is less debt based and more sustainable, so we need to tackle the deep-seated problems that have beset us for so long. If it is 50,000 households, about 800 per constituency, that is a challenge; but it is surely not beyond the vast majority of us to devise systems of intervention and support that start to turn this around.
We should start by tolerating these people less. Then we should reshape our welfare and legal system to get to the bottom of this challenge in a much more rigorous way.

posted by Gary @ 13:25