« Brown and the halo effect | Main | Costing Blair's managerialism »

November 26, 2006



Natural human tribalism. People find it easier to trust and cooperate with people like themselves. Of course, "like themselves" is relative: before the ethnic cleansing of indigenous UK inhabitants from its cities,there were still rivalries between people from different areas and backgrounds. Chris himself claims to suffer from being of the traditional "Tory-hating" tribe.

Now, given mass immigration, our cities are filled with different ethnicities who generally despise one another. I myself have seen fairly large street fights between ethnic Greeks and Turks in North London which did not even make the local news, let alone stories I have heard from elsewhere.

Traditionally, the nation state is based on there being a shared feeling of tribal unity between its members, against all those suspicious foreigners out there. When your neighbours are more alien and suspicious as the people in the next country, you no longer have a nation state, but, in effect, an "empire" - a state that can no longer rely on a common feeling between its members, and can only use force and oppression to rule.

Unfortunately this is a cultural argument, and our elites no longer have any idea about human culture, but only economics. With restricted immigration it might be possible to build a common UK experience again in a generation or two, but this is unlikely to happen. Probably we will see an increasingly oppressive state ruling an ever more fractious nation, followed by a breakdown into antagonistic micro states, perhaps with purges of the weaker tribes.


Rob I disagree with you- different cultures can exist within countries- what is more dangerous an educated Saudi or a Wayne Rooney lookalike. Seems that Blair agrees with me. So I think that Chris's point still stands. Its a good windup.


'it is possible to identify problem children who could grow up to be a potential "menace to society" ': I trust that none of your readers will be so vulgar as to suggest that the offspring of Princess Toni and Ms Greedie Boot might be felt to be a fair bet.


At the beginning it looked like a potentially amusing Modest Proposal; shame it turned into a rather boring article.

i) I liked this bit: "One reply won't do - that we can better predict which immigrants will be a drain on the tax-payer...Tony Blair has said..."
Even the most slavish Blairite would seldom try to disprove a point simply by saying "But Tony says...".

ii) Your whole article rests on your dismissal of the liberty argument, as this is clearly the main factor involved. But here you make a rather obvious mistake. There is clearly a difference between a State deciding on issues within the society which it governs, and a State deciding on who can join that society. All UK citizens have the right to stand for Parliament. Perhaps you think Japanese citizens should be able to as well?

iii) All of which is without mentioning the qualitative difference. Nothing in either the de jure or de facto aspects of the constitution or workings of Government suggests control of births is something the Government has competence over. Immigration is something it quite clearly does.

"the Stupid Party"...interesting. Philosophical paradoxes are fascinating, when they make you think. When they're self-congratulatory, they make for tedious blogging.


Actually, there is scant evidence to support the idea that "menaces to society" can be predicted.

Initially, much of the Home Office research was done by David Farrington, professor of criminology at Cambridge. He agrees that various factors increase the likelihood that a particular area will produce a higher-than-average incidence of problematic behaviour, and argues that it makes sense for resources to be concentrated on those areas. However, he dismisses as "fanciful" the idea that offending behaviour can be predicted in individual children, and also questions the morality and potentially negative effects of stigmatising them.

The government has more recently turned its attention to Leon Feinstein, reader in the economics of education at the Institute of Education. It was on his research (which can be accessed via: www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page10033.asp)that Blair relied heavily in making his comments.

You can see from this research report that Feinstein asserts that criminality can be predicted with around 80% accuracy when there is 'full information'. This rate drops to around 40% when there isn't 'full information'. Given that these are the results from a research study, they are unlikely to be maintained if the exercise is extended to the population at large, when overworked health visitors, rather than well-motivated research team members, are trying to gather this 'full information'from families - who have not agreed to be part of a research project.


There is also scant evidence that the weather can be predicted.

There is also the moral problem of stigmatising July and August as "rainy" months.

Chris Williams

OK Stuart - do you promise to wear shorts and vest all through July and August, because the mean temperature implies that would be comfortable?

Rob "before the ethnic cleansing of indigenous UK inhabitants from its cities, there were still rivalries between people from different areas and backgrounds."

These are a thing of the past? Blimey - you go into North Braunston and claim to be from New Parks. Tell us how you get on. The fact that everyone concerned has a white skin makes no difference to the likely response.

England (let alone the UK) has _never_ been culturally homogenous, and that goes for regional as well as class, religious, and subcultural factors.


Not quite sure what point you're trying to make, Stuart. The evidence is very clear that the more a child is labelled, the more likely s/he is to live up to that label. See for instance the Edinburgh study of youth transitions: http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/cls/esytc/

One of the more striking findings is that the greater the intervention from the youth justice system, the less likely a young person was to desist from crime.

We're not talking about the weather here; it's about human beings labelled purely on the basis of statistical probability. Whether or not you regard that as a moral problem is entirely a matter for you. There is, however, an evidential problem as well.

Dan Kearns

Because culture matters, even when we wish it wouldnt. Feelings of unity dont always follow as we might wish they might.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad